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Originally, featherweight prospect Michael Conlan was supposed to fight Vladimir Nikitin, and even though Nikitin probably isn’t on Conlan’s level as a professional boxer, it would have been a fun storyline. After all, Nikitin is the fighter who won a controversial decision against Conlan in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Olympics, which led Conlan to flip off the judges with both hands, to call out Russian President Vladimir Putin, and to go massively viral as a result.
But Nikitin pulled out with an injury, and now, Conlan said he gets an even tougher test vs. Diego Ruiz this coming Saturday—and you can stream it on ESPN+.
“When I was first told [Nikitin canceled], I was disappointed,” Conlan told the Daily Dot this week. “When I sat down and thought about it, it didn’t bother me. I know the results for the first time—the real results. I’m not bothered about it. It would have been nice to have a fight. But I told my team, ‘Just get me a better guy.’ They got me a guy who’s going to help ask questions of me and is much more of a challenge than Vladimir.”
Michael Conlan vs. Diego Ruiz
- When: Saturday, Aug. 3 at 3pm ET
- Where: Falls Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland
- Streaming: ESPN+
Conlan vs. Ruiz live stream: Watch Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+
Since it was introduced in April 2018, ESPN+ has been a boon for boxing fans. Thanks to its partnership with the Top Rank promotional company, ESPN has had the chance to use both the network and the paywall on the app to showcase its top fighters and prospects. Terence Crawford has fought on ESPN+. So has Tyson Fury and Vasiliy Lomachenko. Conlan and Shakur Stevenson, two of the most visible undefeated prospects, also have been broadcast on both platforms.
It’s cheapest to stream boxing on a monthly or annual basis. ESPN+ used to give a free seven-day trial, but that’s gone away and now, subscribers can pay $4.99 per month or $49.99 for the entire year. You’re allowed to cancel at any time.
There’s plenty more to enjoy about ESPN+ then just boxing. Basically, ESPN+ is an extension of the main ESPN app, and aside from boxing, it shows other original programming and a variety of live sports that you normally wouldn’t see on ESPN broadcasts. The ESPN+ exclusive content is designated by the “E+” logo in the corner of the preview tile. For example, you can watch all the UFC PPVs there, and you’ll get 20 exclusive UFC Fight Night events per year along with plenty of NHL games, MLB contests, wall-to-wall soccer, and a ton of college sports. You’ll also be able to watch the entire 30 for 30 catalog on demand.
Michael Conlan vs. Diego Ruiz: Why it matters
Though Conlan (11-0, 6 knockouts) knows what Nikitin can accomplish inside the ring, Ruiz (21-2, 10 KOs) is more of a mystery. Ruiz has never fought outside his native country of Argentina, and he’s never faced anything close to an elite fighter. But Conlan—who is a -10000 favorite, meaning you’d have to bet $10,000 just to win an infinitesimal $100—still thinks Ruiz can be dangerous.
“I have been able to watch a little bit of him, because I wanted [to see] what he does best. He’s a lot better—or at least I think he’s a lot better—than [Conlan’s most recent opponents],” Conlan said. “He’s on a long win streak. He has good aggression. He’s very tricky at times. He’s a nice challenge for me. It’s kind of piqued my interest that I might have a problem. He hasn’t fought outside Argentina, but that hasn’t really meant anything. This is my back garden, and no one will beat me.”
Conlan is fighting in his hometown of Belfast for only the second time in his pro career. It’ll take place at Falls Park, which isn’t exactly a boxing arena (or even actually a building at all), and watching the ring setup come together this week has been fun.
Was able to get a sneak preview of the park before @mickconlan11 fight on Sat! What a set up!! Place is going to be bouncing! Unbelievable to think it’s in the Falls Pk. Massive well done to @JamieConlan11 @FeileBelfast 🇮🇪 pic.twitter.com/aSb43PzIW8— Chris Turley (@chris_turley) August 1, 2019
Said Conlan: “The atmosphere this weekend is going to be one of the best atmospheres boxing will ever see. It’ll be fantastic.”
Ruiz hopes he can be the spoiler.
“This is the biggest fight of my career,” Ruiz said in remarks distributed to the media last month. “This is a great opportunity to prove myself as a fighter. … 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.”
Michael Conlan vs. Diego Ruiz live stream schedule
- Michael Conlan vs. Diego Alberto Ruiz
- Paddy Gallagher vs. Chris Jenkins
- Luke Keeler vs. Luis Arias
- Padraig McCrory vs. Steve Collins, Jr.
- Paddy Barnes vs. Joel Sanchez
- Sean McComb vs. Renald Garrido
- Alfredo Meli vs. Araik Marutjan
- Dennis McCann vs. Georgi Andonov
- Callum Bradley vs. Jose Hernandez
- Sean Duffy vs. Naheem Chaudhry
- Damien Sullivan vs. Mateusz Kubiszyn
For a year-round sports fix, sign up here to receive our weekly boxing newsletter. You’ll hear about all the biggest fights and best knockouts from the Daily Dot’s streaming sports guru Josh Katzowitz.
Josh Katzowitz is a staff writer at the Daily Dot specializing in YouTube and boxing. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. A longtime sports writer, he's covered the NFL for CBSSports.com and boxing for Forbes. His work has been noted twice in the Best American Sports Writing book series.