Michael Conlan EXCLUSIVE: I believe I’d beat Josh Warrington now, Vladimir Nikitin no longer in my plans

Michael Conlan speaks with unerring confidence as he declares his belief that he will be champion of the world within the next 12 months.

The 27-year-old Irish star, infamously robbed of his shot at amateur glory in the 2016 Olympics, is now climbing up the professional ranks and expects a rapid ascension to occur over the coming year.

Michael Conlan wants a world title around his waist by mid-2020

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Michael Conlan wants a world title around his waist by mid-2020

Conlan was due to get a chance at Olympic revenge in his next fight on August 3, with the man who ‘beat’ him at the 2016 games, Vladimir Nikitin, set as the opponent.

However, five weeks out from fight night, the Russian withdrew citing a torn bicep.

Despite the demise of his dream rematch, the rising featherweight will still compete on the date against replacement foe Diego Alberto Ruiz.

“I just said, ‘Get a better opponent, get a better fight, let’s keep going,’” Conlan told talkSPORT.com.

“The kind of mindset and mood I’m in, and how I’ve been for this training schedule, it’s been unbelievable.

Conlan won bronze at London 2012, but lost an extremely controversial decision at Rio 2016

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Conlan won bronze at London 2012, but lost an extremely controversial decision at Rio 2016

“So I kind of just kept going, kept a positive mindset which I’ve had, and trained just as hard if not harder because I know it’s a harder test.”

Regarding whether he believes that bout will ever come back around, Conlan said: “Listen, if it was ever possible- I don’t think it’s possible.

“I would’ve loved to fight him now, I think now is the right time for it.

“But I believe I’m just going to push on to world titles, which I believe I’ll have within the next 12 months.

“So I don’t think Vladimir’s going to be in my plans.”

Conlan has a record of 11-0, 6 KOs

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Conlan has a record of 11-0, 6 KOs

Replacements called Ruiz are all the rage in boxing at the moment, with heavyweight Andy Jr jumping in at late notice to dethrone Anthony Joshua last month.

Conlan’s foe, Diego Alberto Ruiz, certainly won’t be expected to match this feat, but still poses some level of threat with a 21-2 record and ten-fight unbeaten streak.

“I’ve watched in total about 20 seconds of him,” Conlan openly admitted, “I let my coach and my team devise a plan and look at him.

“I just say it does not matter who’s in front of me, I’ll go in there and I’ll perform and it’ll be the best performance you’ll see from Michael Conlan yet…

Conlan’s style of boxing hasn’t won everyone over just yet, but he’s keen to prove he can mix it with the elite

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Conlan’s style of boxing hasn’t won everyone over just yet, but he’s keen to prove he can mix it with the elite

“I’m ready for the job, I’m ready for anybody who’s in front of me and I believe, come August 3, any man could be in front of me, they’re not gonna defeat me.”

Switching focus to the future, the Irishman reaffirmed his thesis that he will rule the world in 2020.

From the outside looking in, Leo Santa Cruz (WBA), Gary Russell Jr (WBC), Josh Warrington (IBF) and Oscar Valdez (WBO) seem a formidable list of champions for any featherweight to approach.

Conlan, however, it not in the least bit intimidated.

“Personally, it doesn’t matter which champion, I’ll beat any of them.

“I believe within 12 months I’ll be world champion.”

On the undercard of Warrington vs Frampton, Conlan picked up another win

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On the undercard of Warrington vs Frampton, Conlan picked up another win

Warrington particularly stands out among the currently featherweight kings due to his British base.

The Leeds man’s promoter Frank Warren suggested only recently that: “It probably won’t be too long before Conlan is regularly mentioning the name of Josh Warrington while in media company.”

This is a prospect that seriously excites the potential title challenger, who replied: “It would be a fantastic fight. I’ve been impressed with Josh, but I do believe my style does not suit him and I’d be very confident in victory.

“Even if the fight was to happen August 3, I’d be confident in victory.

Warrington is the IBF featherweight world champion

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Warrington is the IBF featherweight world champion

“I believe I’m a lot better boxer, he has a fantastic engine, a fantastic work rate, he’s a fantastic champion.

“He defied the odds against Frampton and Selby when everybody was backing the other guy and had him as the underdog.

“He seems the kind of guy who needs to have the underdog mentality because he wasn’t the same against Kid Galahad.

“He didn’t seem to perform as well as what he has, but that’s taking nothing away from Kid Galahad.

Conlan has an impressive fan base and will be looking to do them proud

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Conlan has an impressive fan base and will be looking to do them proud

“If I’m honest, I don’t care who’s in front of me. I believe, August 3, I’ll beat anybody.”

It must be accepted that not everybody has been 100 per cent convinced by Michael Conlan in the early stages of his career, with some claiming to be left uninspired by certain performances.

These naysayers will quickly be won round, though, if the featherweight contender fulfils his prophecies over the coming 365 days.

For the 11-0, 27-year-old Michael Conlan, exciting times lie ahead.

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Boxing – talkSPORT

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