Conlan hopes to face Rio foe Nikitin after home triumph
Michael Conlan wants to settle an old score after recording a convincing win in his homecoming bout in Belfast on Saturday night.
The only Irish male boxer to claim World Elite gold in the amateur ranks beat Brazil's former world title challenger Adeilson Dos Santos in the main event at the SSE Arena.
A rematch with Vladimir Nikitin is now on the cards in a repeat of the highly controversial 2016 Rio Olympics bantamweight quarter-final which the Russian was adjudged to have won.
That decision - and other controversial verdicts - almost ended up costing boxing its Olympic status, with the International Olympic Committee expressing grave concerns about the judging.
Nikitin turned pro with Conlan's Top Rank stable following a disastrous move up to lightweight which saw him trounced by Conlan's ex team-mate Pat Mongan.
"That's a match (Nikitin) I want, whether it's here in Belfast or whether it's in New York. It doesn't bother me as long as I get the rematch," said unbeaten Conlan, who improved to eight wins at Dos Santos's expense.
The London 2012 bronze medallist was on top for most of the eight rounds against the Sao Paulo orthodox, with ref Phil Edwards scoring in Conlan's favour by 7 rounds to 1 (79-73).
Former world flyweight champion Dave 'Boy' McAuley believes that the 26-year-old Irishman is up to two years away from being the finished article.
"Conlan is nowhere near ready for a world title shot yet and I would say he's at least a year away, possibly two years. Right now he's a very good prospect and after that performance tonight he's still a very good prospect," he said.
Meanwhile, Jono Carroll TKO'd Declan Geraghty on Saturday's undercard to claim the IBF intercontinental super featherweight belt. Carroll set a blistering pace from the start in a repeat of the 2014 Dublin derby which he also won.
The fight was stopped just over two minutes into the ninth round with Geraghty wilting under the marauding aggression.
On the undercard, Tyrone McCullagh got off the canvas to claim the vacant Celtic super bantamweight title versus Joe Ham.
The Scot dropped McCullagh with a right hook in the third, but the Belfast southpaw got back on his feet to earn a unanimous decision and improve his record to 11 wins.
Belfast super-lightweight Tyrone McKenna lost on points to England's Jack Catterall. McKenna was down three times in a 10-rounder for the WBO intercontinental belt.