Terence “Bud” Crawford will defend his WBO welterweight world title against undefeated mandatory challenger Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas Saturday, December 14 at Madison Square Garden as part of a special ESPN-televised tripleheader that will immediately follow the 2019 Heisman Trophy Presentation (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT). ESPN Deportes will provide the Spanish-language telecast.
The triple-header on ESPN and ESPN Deportes will also feature IBF lightweight world champion Richard “RC” Commey defending his title against human highlight film and Brooklyn native Teofimo Lopez. Additionally, in the 10-round featherweight special attraction, Irish sensation and New York fan favorite Michael “Mick” Conlan will battle unbeaten Russian Vladimir Nikitin in a rematch of their highly controversial 2016 Olympic quarterfinal bout.
Conlan (12-0, 7 KOs), who is ranked in the top 10 as a featherweight by three of the major sanctioning organizations, is looking to avenge the final, and most controversial loss, of his amateur career. With a semifinal berth — and a guaranteed Olympic medal — on the line, Nikitin was the beneficiary of a decision most experts believe Conlan deserved. The indelible image of the Rio Olympics was Conlan’s double middle-finger salute to the judges. Conlan’s disappointment motivated him for what has been a flawless professional campaign. A proven ticket-seller at Madison Square Garden thanks to his annual St. Patrick’s Day appearances, Conlan is coming off a rousing TKO win over Diego Alberto Ruiz on August 3 in front of 10,000 hometown fans at Belfast’s Falls Park.
Nikitin (3-0, 0 KOs) did not turn pro immediately following the 2016 Olympics, electing to fight as an amateur throughout 2017. He signed a professional contract in 2018 with Top Rank, in large part because he wanted to face Conlan as a pro. Nikitin’s come-forward style has translated to the pro ranks, as he’s won a trio of decisions. He has fought on the same card as Conlan twice as a professional. The message was clear: Conlan and Nikitin were destined to meet again. They were supposed to fight August 3 at Falls Park, but Nikitin suffered a torn biceps in training.
"I'm beyond excited to fight for the sixth time in my favorite venue in the world, the Mecca of Boxing, Madison Square Garden,” Conlan said. “The boxing fans in New York City have been incredibly supportive of my career, and I look forward to putting on another great show for them, as well as my Irish fans coming over for this massive holiday event.
"Vladimir Nikitin and I have unfinished business from the 2016 Olympics, and I can't wait until December 14 to set the record straight."
“Michael Conlan has done a lot of talking about me and our Olympic fight over the last few years. The talking finally ends December 14,” Nikitin said. “He’s bitter over our last fight and can’t accept the result. Well, my hand will be raised once again.”
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with DiBella Entertainment and MTK Global, tickets priced at $506, $306, $206, $106 and $56 (not including applicable fees) go on sale Friday, October 18 at 12 p.m. ET and can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, Ticketmaster charge by phone (866-858-0008) and online at www.ticketmaster.com or www.MSG.com.
The undercard, with fights to be announced in the coming weeks, will stream exclusively on ESPN+, the leading multi-sport streaming service, starting at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT.
Use the hashtags #CrawfordMachine, #CommeyLopez and #ConlanNikitin to join the conversation on social media.