It was quite the scene…
Thousands of fight fans on their feet cheering uproariously for Mick Conlan as he walked to the right as chief support that night at the Madison Square Garden Theater, with none other than Conor McGregor the white-hot UFC superstar by his side. Conlan’s debut was seen as the 2nd biggest event that fight weekend right behind Chocolatito Gonzalez the consensus number one pound for pound fighter at the time defending his Super Flyweight title against Sor Rungvisai the following night.
Mick Conlan was on top of the world, to have this much attention, this much pomp and circumstance around a pro debut are nearly unheard of!
Mick Conlan was already a star!
This is a far cry from where Conlan was moments after his quarterfinal match at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. He was paired against fellow Bantamweight, Russian Vladamir Nikitin. It was a torrid three rounds but Conlan clearly had the upper hand, the Russian was visibly lumped up from the beating. It seemed abundantly clear Conlan would be announced victorious and he had just stamped his ticket to the Semi-Finals and at least a silver Medal.
Inexplicably when the scores were read Nikitin was announced the winner the crowd erupted in a chorus of boos.
Conlan erupted too.
In the heat of the moment, right in the middle of the ring, he gave the double-fisted middle finger salute to all the judges at ringside and for everyone, everywhere to see! He then launched into a profanity-laden screed during an interview immediately after the fight live on RTE, Ireland’s biggest broadcaster where he accused AIBA, the international federation that governs world amateur boxing of corruption at every level.
The International Boxing Association (AIBA) have been dogged by stories of corruption for years, this is nothing new, but since 2016 and based on the stories that have emerged since, Conlan’s accusations seem prophetic and various investigative journalists have uncovered a multitude of charges that have excoriated the organization.
Within the last year, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) attempted to expel AIBA outright from involvement in the Olympics, which of course would imperil boxing appearing in the Olympic games in 2020 and in future games as well.
Evidence of payola, biased judging even issues with AIBA’s own anti-doping policies have called the whole structure of world amateur boxing into question. AIBA was also on the brink of financial collapse after former president C.K. Wu was ousted in a financial scandal that saw millions in revenue for AIBA disappear. He was replaced by Uzbek Gafur Rakminov, a man described by the United States Treasury Department as “one of Uzbekistan’s leading criminals.” Rakminov himself only stayed in his role as new AIBA president for a cup of coffee once credible allegations surfaced that he was involved in Uzbekistan’s international Heroin trade, forcing Rakminov to step down in March of this year.
Critically though, in the midst of Conlan venting his frustrations on live TV he said that though his Olympic dreams were “shattered” he also said he wasn’t done that he was destined to go on to do “great things.”
Lo & Behold, Conlan has the chance to right that wrong in a legacy-defining fight this coming Saturday the 14th of December when he faces none other than Vladamir Nikitin on an undercard featuring top pound for pound boxer and WBO Welterweight titleholder Terrence Crawford and the highly anticipated clash of prospects, IBF Lightweight Champ Richard Commey defending against Teofimo Lopez.
Boxraw took an interest in Conlan early, in our hyper-connected social media-driven culture Conlan created a viral moment after his heartbreak at the 2016 games and Conlan has been proudly repping Boxraw gear ever since.
Inspired by Conlan’s irreverence and grit, Boxraw has produced a new collection featuring that symbol of protest against corrupt arbitrary authority he’s become associated with - that extended middle finger.
While stylistically a departure for the Boxraw brand known for classic understated style Conlan’s Redemption line is just the type of showpiece that is both eye-catching, provocative and perhaps even inspiring.
For those who doubt you… for the obstacles that seem to stand in your way… for the moments of doubt that creep into your own head… Here, have a bit of this!
Conlan prepares to right the wrong done to him nearly four years ago, but in some ways was the best thing to happen to him. As it happens, Ares, the God of War will shine his light upon Conlan this weekend as he has the opportunity to avenge his controversial Olympic defeat to Nikitin and take out the last four years and perhaps a lifetime of frustration on the Russian who was unwittingly a part of those shattered dreams.
Then Mick Conlan can move on in his career, put that ugly moment behind him and achieve the greatness he forecasted.