Irish boxer Michael Conlan has spoken on what referee Kheira Sidi Yakoub said to him during his controversial fight with Russian Vladimir Nikitin in this year’s Olympics.
The disgraceful decision that saw Conlan robbed of a chance to win an Olympic medal at this year’s games – has sparked widespread disgust from sports fans across the globe.
Speaking to Ger Gilroy of Off The Ball, Conlan has gone into detail on some controversial comments that the referee actually made to him during the fight:
“The referee was terrible. Like before the fight even started she said to me’Keep your head up’ and I hadn’t even moved yet. I was only stepping into the ring. She came over and checked my gloves and checked my gum shield and then she says ‘Keep you head up’. Why would you say ‘keep your head up’ when I have not even started boxing?”
“Throughout the fight she was always on me, she was always giving me a bit of, saying to me like you gotta do this – ‘Keep your head up Conlan, keep your head up. One more and I’m going to worn you.”
The Irishman continued:
“So you were on thin ice the whole time. And then, when he was cut, she was cleaning me instead of cleaning him. I just didn’t understand it. In the second round he was knackered and she was taking me over cleaning me and then cleaning him, she was giving him extra time to breath to get his breath back because she knew he was gassing.”
Russian Nikitin has subsequently had to pull out of this year’s Olympics following cuts sustained in the fight against Conlan, with American Shakur Stevenson now progressing to the final of the Rio 2016 Olympics instead.
If there is anything positive to come out of this whole Conlan-Nikitin fiasco, is that history does show that some amateur boxers who were robbed by bad judging in the Olympics did go on to have very successful careers at the highest level of the sport in professional boxing.
Two that spring to mind straight away are Roy Jones Jr and Floyd Mayweather. Don’t be surprised to see Irishman Conlan knocking on the doors of a world title in the coming years.