Michael Conlan the Irish Bantamweight Star and world number one had his eyes firmly set on Olympic Gold, but had his dream torn from him courtesy of some very questionable scoring in his Bantamweight Quarterfinal – The extremely gifted Michael Conlan was robbed of an Olympic medal by the judges in his quarter final bout against Vladimir Nikitin of Russia.
Conlan had a;ready impressed immensely in his opening bout and started his quarter final strongly throwing straight shots down the pipe and making his opponent miss with his defensive skills. The number one seed, Conlan was swift in opening up the injury present on the side of Nikitin’s head after only a minute had elapsed and was showing the world why he was the deserved world champion going into the Olympic games. The Irish star was comfortable on the ropes and worked on the inside very well giving more than he received from the Russian. He blocked and evaded most of the arching punches coming from Nikitin and demonstrated fine examples of boxing when he moved his feet and punched at the target in front of him from a wide range of angles. He controlled the distance with his ring craft and fared better than his opponent in the exchanges with his pinpoint accuracy. In what would be a prelude to what was to come, all three AIBA judges scored the round in favour of the Russian, Vladimir Nikitin who spent more time hitting air than Conlan.
Round two commenced much as round one had ended, with Conlan firing and landing straight punches whilst the Russian bleeding from the side of his head struggled to find his mark. The number one seed fired a three punch salvo at Nikitin, before leaning slightly back to make his opponent miss by a matter of centimetres. A bitter toe to toe fight erupted in the middle of the second round as both fighters held their ground and exchanged uppercuts and hooks behind high held guards. A series of cracking right hands caught Nikitin before the referee paused the fighters, to have Nikitin’s blood wiped off of Conlan and also have the Russian’s injury tended to. Conlan seemed keep to show the judges that he could box his opponents fight and still do out box him there too.
As the action resumed, the Irishman drove his opponent backwards with a ferocious combination of left and right hooks which caused Nikitin a new cut above his left eye. Before the bell rang he made the now bloodied Russian miss repeatedly and delivered to him punch after punch in return.in his best round so far The judges together scored the second round in favour of the Irish fighter. Both fighters had a round a piece and it would all go to the final round to decide who would be proceeding to fight for gold in the semi final bout.
The third and final stanza began with Conlan keeping up his fast paced action and Nikitin starting to slow and breathing heavier, the toll of the pace set by Conlan having a clear effect on him, and not least down to the punches Conlan was landing. Jabs from the Russian were now sagging whilst the number one seed displayed the boxing he is well known for, hitting and not getting hit before deciding to step into the breach and throw flurries of fast punches driving the tiring Nikitin backwards. As they took to the centre, Nikitin was barely able to mount a sustained attack, winging single hooks behind a tightly held guard whilst Conlan was persevering to throw flurry after flurry as he bit down on his gum shield. From the Irishman’s onslaught, Nikitin’s face was bludgeoned beyond recognition as Conlan continued to land punches on the Russian. At the end of the round Nikitin staggered heavily towards his corner as Conlan raised his arms.
With the scores 19-19, the bout was all to fight for. The judges scored the final round unanimously for Nikitin making him the victor by unanimous decision 29-28. As the result was announced Nikitin dropped to his knees in shock whilst the equally astounded Conlan looked to his corner in disbelief. With Nikitin still on his knees, Conlan put him a middle fingered salute to the AIBA judges who had scored his bout.
As he was leaving the arena, Michael Conlan gave a short interview to Irish Television in which he said “AIBA Boxing stinks from it’s core right to the top”. With decisions like this one, it is hard to disagree.
I think it is worth while mentioning that Vladimir Nikitin in his previous bout against two time Olympian Chatchai Butdee of Thailand had been on the receiving end of a lot of punishment as his Thai opponent boxed around him for the majority of the bout. However to the arena and the viewers surprise, Nikitin was given the nod ahead of Butdee and so found himself gifted a place in the quarter finals.
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