MICHAEL CONLAN was stunned to lose a unanimous decision to Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin in the 56kgs quarter-final at the Olympic Games on Tuesday (August 15).
Conlan had boxed off the backfoot in first round. The Russian did tag him with the odd hard punch, tipping him off balance with a left hook at one point. But Michael seemed in control, often leaving Niktin swinging punches through empty air after Conlan had sliced right hooks through. All three judges however gave the first round to the Russian.
In the second Conlan elected to go forward and beat the Russian at his own fight. He stood head to head with Vladimir and blazed punches through, outworking him and winning the second session on all three cards.
The third round was closely contested, Nikitin did get forward and lash uppercuts through Conlan’s guard. All three judges scored the final round to the Russian meaning Niktin won a unanimous decision 29-28.
Boos rang out again at Riocentro when the result was announced. Only last night a controversial call saw Russian heavyweight Vladimir Nikitin awarded the gold medal against Kazakhstan’s Vassiliy Levit.
Conlan had seen the heavyweight final but said he thought “that couldn’t happen to me”.
The result left Michael distraught. He had pulled no punches in the ring and let rip in his comments afterwards. “I’m absolutely devastated. My Olympic dream was robbed from me,” he concluded. “He didn’t believe he won. I didn’t believe he won. The crowd didn’t believe he won.
“I’ll never box in AIBA competition again.”
My view at the time, for what it’s worth, is that Conlan won the first and second rounds and therefore should have got this decision.