Michael Conlan moved up to number one contender for WBO featherweight title

Michael Conlan on his way to beat Diego Albert Ruiz during the summer
Conlan secured his 12th straight professional win when he beat Diego Alberto Ruiz in Belfast in the summer

Michael Conlan has moved closer to a world title fight after becoming number one contender for Shakur Stevenson's WBO featherweight belt.

Northern Ireland's Conlan moves up from third in the previous WBO ratings which were listed before Stevenson clinched the belt by outpointing Joet Gonzalez.

Conlan has won all his 12 professional fights and beat Diego Alberto Ruiz in his last bout in August.

He will face Russian Vladimir Nikitin in New York on 14 December.

Nikitin, 29, controversially beat the Belfast boxer in the quarter-finals at the Olympics in 2016, a result which denied Conlan a medal in Rio.

The Russian was originally supposed to face Conlan in Belfast last summer but had to be replaced by Ruiz after sustaining a bicep injury.

Conlan, 28, who won an Olympic bronze medal London 2012, quit the amateur ranks after his Rio disappointment.

The 14 December bout will take place at Madison Square Garden.

Conlan's defeat was among several controversial decisions in Rio and an International Olympic Committee task force said on Wednesday that all referees and judges at the 2016 Games will not be allowed to officiate at Tokyo 2020.

All 36 referees and judges from the Rio Olympics were suspended in the wake of the Games as the International Boxing Association (AIBA) carried out an investigation, following allegations that Olympic fights were fixed.

Several judges and referees were sent home from Rio during the boxing tournament.

While AIBA's investigation in 2017 found no interference in results and recommended that the Rio judges be reintegrated on a "case by case basis", the IOC's new selection criteria has ruled them ineligible for the Tokyo Games.

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