‘Boxing was filth’ – Mike Costello recalls Michael Conlan’s Rio 2016 controversy

The 2016 Rio Olympic Games was remembered for all the wrong reasons for boxing.

Following a number of controversial decisions made by judges at those particular games, an investigation was launched by lawyer Richard McClaren to find out whether the sport at Olympic level was corrupt.

One of the fights that led to this investigation involved Michael Conlan who is in action this weekend against Leigh Wood live on DAZN (except Australia and New Zealand).

The Irishman faced Vladimir Nikitin in the quarterfinals of the bantamweight tournament and despite dominating the contest, Nikitin was awarded the victory.

This resulted in a heated rant from Conlan and his iconic middle finger gesture to the judges.

Speaking to Chris Mannix about the incident on DAZN, commentator Mike Costello believes that despite not winning a medal, Conlan wouldn’t change what happened when it came to the momentum he had at the start of his professional career.

“He didn’t win a medal, but I don’t think he’d swap a medal for the promotion he got leading into his professional career with the middle finger salute you talk about which was replicated of course by Bob Arum when they signed their professional forms together,” Costello said. “Not just that contest alone, but that was one of those that really did stink at those games that carried a stench around the whole sport of boxing and led to that investigation by the Canadian lawyer Richard McClaren that you talk about.

“Just to reflect on the bit of the history, Michael Conlan had won a bronze medal at London 2012 and then was beaten the following year in the World Amateur Championships by Vladimir Nikitin in the quarter-finals, so there is a history between them. Conlan had gone on to become Ireland’s first-ever World Amateur Champion in 2015, a great feat for a country that loves its boxing, and so it took this momentum into 2016 and was strongly fancied along with Katie Taylor to take gold.”

Costello then went on to break down the contest itself.

“That contest against Vladimir Nikitin, you talk about the first round, the first round is really key, and sometimes this is underplayed in these controversies,” he began. “When Conlan was told in the corner by somebody around at ringside because the scores weren’t open to everybody in the arena, but when the Irish corner were told Conlan was behind, he couldn’t believe it. He had to change his tactics He had to change how he boxes because he was behind.

“Had he known that he was in front, he would have carried on doing what he’s doing, which won him a gold medal at the World Amateur Championships a year before, but he had to change. I think he won the second and the third rounds, but he won it boxing in a way that’s not the way he wanted to. It wouldn’t have been the way that he planned.”

While McClaren’s resulting investigation didn’t explicitly state that boxing was outright corrupt, there is one conclusion that was made.

“But what they can say is generally speaking at the games boxing was filth,” Costello stated.

Watch the full feature where Chris Mannix and Mike Costello look back on some of the biggest boxing stitch-ups at the Olympics here.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.