Mick Conlan impresses as Finn Balor watches on, targets Vladimir Nikitin

Mick Conlan Finn Balor

📸 Mikey Williams

Mick Conlan claimed his eleventh pro victory on Sunday evening as St Patrick’s Day celebrations got in full swing alongside WWE star Finn Balor.

The Irish sensation brought a touch of glamour to proceedings at New York’s world-famous Madison Square Garden.

Entering the squared circle with former WWE Universal champion Balor, Conlan had fans on the edge of their seats.

For the third consecutive year, Irish sensation Michael “Mick” Conlan fought at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on St. Patrick’s Day. And for the third consecutive year, the rowdy Irish faithful left the building happy.

Conlan (11-0, 6 KOs) defeated Ruben Garcia Hernandez by 10-round unanimous decision (100-90 3x) to retain his WBO Intercontinental featherweight strap in front of 3,712 fans.

The Belfast native, who was flanked to the ring by WWE superstar Finn Balor, alternated between southpaw and orthodox and kept Hernandez (24-4-2, 10 KOs) guessing throughout the evening.

The two-time Olympian never was in danger, and once again, emerged victorious on his nation’s holiday.

Michael Conlan’s 2016 Olympic nemesis, Vladimir Nikitin, moved to 3-0 with a six-round majority decision over Juan Tapia (8-3, 3 KOs). The scores were as followed: 57-57 and 59-55 (2x) for Nikitin.

After the bout, Conlan gave his views on taking another step up the professional ladder.

“I think I just used my skills as I said I would. I think I showed a lot of good defensive movements and things I’ve been working on,” he said.

“We were in no rush to try and take out this guy. He’s tough. He went the distance with {Nonito} Donaire and a few other top fighters. He had a tough head on him.

“There were a few times I probably could’ve stepped on it, but we wanted to practice things we’ve been working on. I felt I did that tonight.”

Old Olympic rival Vladimir Nikitin made an appearance on the bill. The Russian himself moved to 3-0 as a pro.

Conlan has his sights set on revenge after pleading with promoter Bob Arum to sign the 28 year-old.

“Vladimir, I know you’re here tonight. We need to do it again for the fans. I need to write a wrong that shouldn’t have been written,” stressed Conlan.


Nikitin commented after sealing a majority victory.

“I don’t know how one judge scored the fight a draw, but I am happy with my performance,” stated Nikitin.

“I look at every single fight like a championship fight and fighting at Madison Square Garden was a great thrill. The Conlan fight will happen eventually. That is what we both want.”

Trainer Adam Booth is happy with Conlan’s ongoing progress.

“These are developmental rounds that will help him become a world champion. I am very pleased with what I saw in there.

“He is working on exactly what we are practicing in the gym, and it’s working,” said the former trainer of heavyweight champion David Haye.