Michael Conlan will now face Diego Alberto Ruiz of Argentina in a 10-round featherweight bout at Falls Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Top Rank Boxing announced Wednesday morning. Preceding the Conlan-Ruiz clash will be the Luke Keeler-Luis Arias 10-round middleweight bout.
Both fights will stream live on ESPN+ (5 p.m. ET/ 2 p.m. PT).
August 3 will be a homecoming for Conlan, who has a significant following and was born and raised in Belfast. The fight card will take place during the city’s annual Feile an Phobail summer festival.
Conlan, 27, was originally scheduled to face Vladimir Nikitin, who beat Conlan on a controversial outcome at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The decision was deemed one of the worst in Olympic boxing history. Nikitin had to pull out due to a reported torn right bicep he suffered during training camp.
In 2018, Nikitin signed a promotional deal with Top Rank in the hopes of fighting Conlan as a pro.
In his last bout, on March 17 in New York City, Conlan (11-0, 6 knockouts) defeated Ruben Garcia of Mexico by unanimous decision. In his previous fight on Dec. 22 in Manchester, Conlan outpointed Jason Cunningham over 10 rounds.
Ruiz has not lost a fight in over three years.
“When Vladimir Nikitin dropped out due to injury, I told Top Rank and MTK Global to get me the toughest possible opponent,” Conlan said. “Ruiz is on a 10-fight winning streak, and I know he’s coming all the way from Argentina to continue his victorious ways. This is my toughest test as a professional, but if I’m going to become a world champion, I must beat Ruiz. I’ve been busy in London with my trainer, Adam Booth, and I can’t wait to put on a show on August 3.”
“Maybe once I’m a world champion, I might give Nikitin a shot, but for now, I’m moving on because it was more stalling my career than advancing it in terms of the level I’m at.”
Ruiz (21-2, 10 KOs) will be fighting for the first time out of Argentina. The 25-year-old resides in Las Talitas. In his last bout on June 1, Ruiz defeated Luis Cusolito by split-decision over 10 rounds.
“This is the biggest fight of my career,” Ruiz said. “This is a great opportunity to prove myself as a fighter. I fought June 1, and I am going to be ready for whatever Michael brings. It won’t be an easy fight, but it is not an impossible task. I am not scared to fight on the road. That is my motivation because the pressure will be on him.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV.com since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing.
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