Michael Conlan’s revenge fight will have to wait.
Belfast’s former amateur superstar was supposed to fight Vladimir Nikitin, the fighter who controversially beat him in the 2016 Rio Olympics. The fight was booked for August 3, 2019 at Falls Park in Belfast as part of the city’s annual Féile an Phobail summer festival.
But after Nikitin pulled out of the fight due to an injury, Conlan asked his promoter to give him the toughest opponent possible. He got a replacement opponent, but I’m not sure if he got a better one. What’s sure though is that Conlan will be fighting a more experienced opponent on August 3rd.
Michael Conlan is one of Ireland’s best amateur boxers of all-time. The 27-year old was a former #1 ranked bantamweight in the AIBA rankings. Conlan created controversy for his actions after a controversial loss to Vladimir Nikitin in the semifinals of the 2016 Olympics. The 2015 world champion at bantamweight turned pro after his disappointment at the Olympics.
The southpaw fighter from Belfast has a record of 11-0 with six knockouts since turning professional in March 2017. Conlan started his pro career with five stoppages in his first six bouts. He is coming off a 10-round unanimous decision win over Ruben Hernandez last March 17th where he retained his WBO inter-continental bantamweight title
Conlan has decent punching power and is an excellent boxer. He has a high fight IQ and is also solid defensively. At 5-8 with a reach of 69 inches, his size looks big for his weight class. On offense, he gives his opponents a lot of looks and can land his punches from a variety of angles. At his age and with his experience, he is a composed fighter who doesn’t rush things.
Odds not available as of 7/11/19
Diego Alberto Ruiz
Diego Alberto Ruiz is the newly crowned WBO Latino Silver featherweight champion. He won that belt last month after defeating countryman Luis Emanuel Cusolito. Ruiz previously fought at super bantamweight and he is also the former WBC Latino Silver super bantamweight titleholder.
The 25-year old from Tucuman in Argentina has a record of 21-2 with 10 knockouts. Ruiz’s height and reach aren’t listed but he is an orthodox fighter. He has won 10 fights in a row dating back to 2016 when he dropped a unanimous decision to Leonardo Bruno Cicopiedi, In his last bout, he narrowly beat Cusolito, taking a split decision victory.
Ruiz only has 10 stoppages but five of those have come in his last 10 bouts so he does have pop in his punches at this weight class. This is also Ruiz’s first fight outside of Argentina so it will be interesting how he does on foreign soil, especially since this is in Conlan’s homecoming fight.
Conlan vs Nikitin would have been a more exciting fight given the history between the two fighters. It would also have been a better sell to the fans because of the storyline that exists. But it is what it is and that highly anticipated rematch will have to wait.
That said, Conlan said he asked Top Rank to give him a tough assignment. However, knowing Top Rank and Conlan’s potential, I’m not sure if Bob Arum did give his prized ward the toughest opponent possible. I’m sure Arum would want to re-book that Nikitin rematch at a bigger venue and a bigger event. The odds for this one aren’t out yet but I think Conlan’s still going to be a big boxing betting favorite here as well.
Business aside, Conlan is a terrific fighter. He was a decorated Olympian and a former #1 bantamweight in the amateurs. He’s fought 11 times as a pro but it’s obvious that he was spoon-fed by Top Rank. To his credit, however, Conlan has displayed tremendous composure like a pro. Unlike new fighters who rush things and sometimes fight recklessly, Conlan has the poise of a veteran and he uses his talents to the fullest.
What I like about Conlan most though is that he is a very good defensive boxer for a young fighter. And not only is he not easy to hit, but he also hits back with purpose. Conlan has nice punching angles and he also throws very fluid combinations. His jab is also steady and his hand speed above average. I haven’t seen too many weaknesses so far but maybe that’s because Conlan hasn’t fought elite competition yet.
Ruiz is obviously not elite. But he’s a veteran who’s been in many wars before. Although Ruiz is fighting on hostile ground, he has nothing to lose and that’s what makes him dangerous. However, despite five stoppages in his last 10 bouts, I’m not sure if he has the punching power to catch Conlan’s attention.
I think Conlan boxers his way to another easy victory here. Nikitin should be next and again, Conlan should beat him handily as well. I’m not sure how much of a test Ruiz will be. Prediction: Michael Conlan