Vladimir Nikitin and Michael “Mick” Conlan are slowly but surely on track for a rematch of their quarterfinal bout from the 2016 Rio Olympics, which was won by Nikitin in a highly controversial decision. Nikitin will meet Juan Tapia (8-2, 3 KOs) in a six-round featherweight bout as part of the undercard of Conlan’s 10-round featherweight match against Ruben Garcia Hernandez on Sunday, March 17 at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
The undercard, involving Nikitin-Tapia, will start streaming live on ESPN+ at 3 p.m. ET while the main card which will include the matchups of Conlan-Hernandez, Barnes-Mojica, and Collazo-Vargas will stream live at 6 p.m. ET as well on ESPN+.
Conlan (10-0, 6 KOs) versus Hernandez (24-3-2, 10 KOs) will serve as the special attraction for this St. Patrick’s Day card, with a welterweight battle between Luis Collazo (38-7,20 KOs) and Samuel Vargas (30-4-2,14 KOs) serving as the main event. As the recently announced co-feature, two-time Irish Olympic bronze medalist and former world title challenger Paddy Barnes (5-1, 1 KO) will look to rebound against Oscar Mojica (11-5-1, 1 KO) in a six-round bantamweight contest. Barnes is coming off a fourth-round knockout loss to Cristofer Rosales for the WBC flyweight world title last August.
Said Conlan: “Nikitin is a rival from the 2016 Olympics and clearly someone who I look forward to fighting in the professional ranks. This is the second time we’ve fought on the same card, and I look forward to seeing his progress as a professional.”
Featherweight Vladimir Nikitin addded to @mickconlan11 ESPN+ undercard March 17 as @trboxing continues to get Nikitin pro seasoning before the inevitable rematch between the Olympic rivals. My story: https://t.co/FLbz1DwvUk #boxing @CarlMoretti @BobArum @KornerMan44 @MarkKriegel
— Dan Rafael (@DanRafael1) March 4, 2019
Nikitin (2-0, 0 KOs), a standout amateur for his native Russia won medals at both European and World Championships. During the 2016 Rio Olympics, his disputed decision over Conlan moved him to the medal round and made headlines around the world. Conlan’s double middle-finger salute to the AIBA-appointed judges became the unforgettable image of the Olympics. As a pro, Nikitin has won a pair of six-round decisions and hopes getting past Tapia will get him one step closer to Conlan.
“The fight I want after I take care of business on March 17 is Michael Conlan,” Nikitin said. “He wants revenge, and I want to show everyone that I was, and still am, the superior fighter. I respect Michael and his team. While there is no bad blood outside the ring, we have unfinished business inside the ring.”