Irish bantamweight 56 kilogram boxer Michael Conlan has ripped Olympic boxing officials in Rio after he controversially lost his quarterfinal bout to Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin, despite clearly having the edge in all three rounds.
“AIBA cheats, He f**king cheats. That’s me, I’ll never box for AIBA again, they’re cheating bastards, they’re paying everybody,” he said in a scathing TV interview with Irish publication RTÉ just moments after the decision.
“I don’t give a f**k for cursing on TV,” he added. “That’s the end of my Olympic gold. My dream has been shattered now.”
Conlan, 24, took home bronze in London four years ago and was a heavy favourite to at least advance to the medal round in Rio. Against Nikitin (who was controversially awarded a victory over the Thai boxer Chatchai Butdee in the Round of 16), Conlan reportedly dominated from start to finish.
In the first round, his impressive footwork had Nikitin missing wildly on his punches. Still, the judges awarded the first round to Nikitin, 10-9. In the second round, Conlan advanced onto the front foot and cut up Nikitin’s face to win the round, 10-9.
According to several reporters that were ringside during the bout, the third round, which had to be stopped repeatedly by the referee because of bleeding on Nikitin’s face, was also clearly won by Conlan. The only question was whether judges would award a 10-8 or 10-9 decision.
Instead, they gave it to Nikitin, 10-9.
After the bell, Conlan held up his hands, expecting victory. When the judges announced the victory for Nikitin, Conlan flashed thumbs-down and middle-finger gestures.
Then he gave the scathing interview to RTÉ.
“I have a big career ahead of me. These ones are known for being cheats, they have always been cheats. Amateur boxing stinks from the core right to the top.”
He continued (via Yahoo):
“Today, I thought I boxed the ears off him in the first round, and they ruled against me. I had to go to his fight, which I did , outfought him and they were just being a bit.
“It’s a shambles to be honest. I don’t even care what I say now. I’m gutted from the bottom of my heart. I wanted to go back a gold medal to Ireland.”
Conlan’s loss is not the first controversial decision in Olympic boxing over the past two games. On Monday, Russian heavyweight boxer Evgeny Tishchenko was surprisingly awarded the gold medal as boos echoed throughout the arena.
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