Michael Conlan: Belfast boxer says his motivation 'isn't redemption or revenge'

Michael Conlan
Vladimir Nikitin controversially beat Michael Conlan at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, a result which denied the Belfast fighter a medal

Michael Conlan has said that he isn't looking ahead of Saturday's bout with Vladimir Nikitin, despite promotor Bob Arum stating a world title shot could be on the cards in Belfast.

The Belfast featherweight will face Olympic foe Nikitin in New York's Madison Square Garden.

The Russian controversially beat the Conlan, 28, in the quarter-finals at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

"My motivation hasn't been redemption or revenge," said Conlan.

"Yes that's the line. It works and it fits the story, but my sole motivation is the fact that he has beaten me twice.

"This is the biggest fight of his career as well. He wants to banish those demons of the past and he knows if he beats me then he is right in line for a world title shot."

Both fighters weighted in without incident on Friday afternoon with Conlan looking lean as he tipped the scales at 125.8 pounds with Nikitin slightly heavier at 126lbs.

Conlan has won all 12 of his professional fights and was initially supposed to face Nikitin in Belfast last summer, but a bicep injury meant the Russian had to be replaced by Diego Alberto Ruiz.

"I know how much it means to him so I'm not going in like it is a foregone conclusion," added Conlan.

"No matter what anyone thinks about what happened in Rio, his hand was still raised.

"I don't want to experience that again, and the feeling of losing to the guy.

"It was hard to take at the time and now I'm making sure that it won't happen again."

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Bob Arum hopes Conlan will get a world title shot in Belfast

On top of the controversial Olympic defeat, which denied Conlan a medal, Nikitin also came out on top in the 2013 AIBA World Boxing Championships.

With Arum's claim's about a potential world title shot in Belfast, Conlan says he has to focus on getting the job done against the Russian.

"I've stopped thinking about it. It's not something that I can control," he added on the prospect of a world title fight in Belfast.

"If Saturday night doesn't go to plan then that doesn't go to plan.

"If I let myself linger into it, then it would be exciting, but what happens on Saturday night is first and foremost."

Saturday's bill also features Terence Crawford's WBO welterweight title defence against mandatory challenger Egidijus Kavaliauskas and Richard Commey's IBF lightweight title bout with Teofimo Lopez.