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Conlan wins in rematch with Nikitin

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Conlan wins in rematch with Nikitin

Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Conlan wins in rematch with Nikitin

On Saturday night to kick off the main card seen on ESPN, payback came for Michael “Mick” Conlan, but it was wasn’t easy. The pride of Belfast, Conlan earned a 10-round unanimous decision over Vladimir Nikitin to retain his WBO Intercontinental featherweight belt by scores of 100-90, 99-91 and 98-92. Conlan controlled the bout, but Nikitin had his moments and found a home for his overhand right. Terrible scorecards but this was definitely a clear win for Conlan. His bout lead inro the sensational co-main which saw Teofemo Lopez defeat Richard Commey to win the IBF lightweight crown.

Nikitin (3-1, 0 KOs) was the beneficiary of a controversial decision over Conlan (13-0, 7 KOs) at the 2016 Rio Olympics, a decision that sparked an international firestorm and set up this highly anticipated grudge match.

“It was a lot of pressure going into that fight, but it’s nice to get it done. I just needed to get that one back,” Conlan said. “I needed to right this wrong. Full credit to Nikitin, who fought his heart out. There’s no bad blood. There never was. Now, we can put this chapter of my career behind me.”

In action on the undercard stream that aired on ESPN+ before Conlan, Super middleweight sensation Edgar “The Chosen One” Berlanga (13-0, 13 KOs) scored the 13th consecutive first-round knockout to begin his career, icing the normally durable Cesar Nunez (16-2-1, 8 KOs) in only 2:45. Berlanga notched a pair of knockdowns before the referee halted the bout.

Berlanga said he came into the fight determined to keep his first-round knockout streak going in honor of his late cousin, Anthony Santana, who was murdered during training camp.

“It feels amazing to be able to represent {Puerto Rico} on such a big and important stage as Madison Square Garden,” Berlanga said. “My cousin was killed while I was preparing for this fight and that’s why I wanted to dedicate this fight to him. I wanted to keep my first-round knockout streak going for him. I did it. I promise that for the next one I will go more rounds and I will be able to show all my skills. I’m not just a puncher.”

Josue “The Prodigy” Vargas (16-1, 9 KOs), the Bronx product, put on a show in front of the home fans and bested former sparring partner Noel Murphy (14-2-1, 2 KOs) via unanimous decision (98-92 3X) to win the vacant IBF North American junior welterweight title.

“What a blessing to fight in front of my home fans and put on a show for them and everyone watching on ESPN+,” Vargas said. “The belt means the world to me. I know this isn’t a world title, but I am on my way. To be 21 years old and fight at The Garden is truly special.”

Super lightweight prospect Julian “Hammer Hands” Rodriguez (19-0, 12 KOs) cruised to an eight-round unanimous decision (80-71 2x and 79-72) over the game Manuel Mendez (16-7-3, 11 KOs), who was knocked down in the opening round.

Undefeated lightweight contender George “Ferocious” Kambosos Jr. (18-0, 10 KOs) took home the most significant win of his career, edging former world champion Mickey Bey (23-3-1, 11 KOs) via split decision.

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Marquis Johns is a unknown humorist and avid boxing fan. His love for the sweet science goes back to when matches were 15 rounds and has been covering fights since closed-circuit pay-per-views. Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth is not only a quote by Mike Tyson, it's also a pretty good reminder to keep your guard up.

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