Friday 17 November 2017

'I'll not do another Olympic Games' - Michael Conlan wouldn't fight amateur again for €5m

Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Vincent Hogan in Rio

Irish bantamweight Michael Conlan declared Olympic boxing "dead" after a controversial defeat to Russian, Vladimir Nikitin, in Rio on Monday.

Conlan's defeat means Ireland's boxers will return empty-handed from an Olympics for the first time since the '04 'Games in Athens. Clearly furious with a verdict widely considered dubious, Conlan declared of boxing's world governing body, the AIBA: "They're corrupt, simple as that."

Conlan was down on all three judges' cards despite looking, by far, the better boxer. He dominated round two, getting all three verdicts, but was left jumping around the Olympic ring in clear exasperation when the Russian's hand was raised after an admittedly close third.

Calling the judges "cheating b****rds" immediately after, Conlan said: "My Olympic title was robbed from me there." The reigning World, European and Commonwealth champion added: "I wasn't even breathing hard after the first round. It's been an horrendous week for Irish boxing, it's been an horrendous week of scoring for Irish boxing.

"We haven't got any favours, we're not winning anything."

Conlan intends to follow his brother Jamie into the professional ranks now, saying he would not fight again under AIBA rules even if offered €5m.

Conlan said: "My little dream has been ruined. I will never box in an AIBA competition again - I feel they are one of the most corrupt organisations in the world.

"If you have watched these Olympic Games and seen some of the decisions, Olympic boxing is dead. It's whoever pays the most money - whoever has the most, wins.

"One thing I can say for sure is I will never box in an AIBA competition again as they are rotten to the core.

"If they offered me five million to box in APB (AIBA's professional arm), I'd tell them, 'you probably got that for me losing'. I will not box for them again."

All three Irish coaches were adamant that Conlan had won the fight comfortably, but concerns about the judging at these Olympics had been flagged from before the 'Games began. Head coach, Zaur Antia, described the decision as "terrible".

Eddie Bolger said it had been "bewildering" to discover that Conlan was behind after round one.

Asked if there was a need for reform in 'amateur' boxing, Bolger suggested that the time to do that had been before Rio, not after. "It's very sad for the Olympics," said Bolger.

Speaking to the BBC after his fight, Conlan told John Inverdale: "I'm unbelievably angry, I came here for an Olympic gold medal and I feel I've been cheated of that.

"I wanted to be a two-time Olympic medallist and an Olympic champion and today my dream has been shattered. It's been robbed.

"I'll not do another Olympic Games, I'll advise anybody not to compete for AIBA because they are probably one of the most corrupt companies in the world.

"In the first round it was so easy, I was so comfortable in the corner. I wasn't even out of breath. I was like 'this is easy, what's going on?'

"I had to go to war, which I did and outfought him at his own game. I pulled back that round. Then I thought in the last round I outfought him too.

"It is what it is, I've been robbed of my Olympic dream and I've been robbed by a bunch of cheaters, so it doesn't matter to me."

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