Michael Conlan's highly anticipated Rio rematch with Vladimir Nikitin is off as his Russian opponent has withdrawn from their August bout in Belfast due to injury.

Nikitin has suffered a torn bicep which means that the rematch of their infamous clash at the Rio Olympics, where Conlan was controversially defeated by the Russian, had to be cancelled just weeks out from the fight.

A replacement opponent will be now sourced for featherweight Conlan (11-0-0) who will still fight at the Falls Park as part of the Féile an Phobail in west Belfast. 

It will be "the hardest fight of his career", said brother Jamie Conlan, who now works with management company MTK Global.

"These things happen in boxing and we'll now be looking to bring in an opponent that'll be a harder fight than Nikitin would have been," he said. 

"In some ways, Nikitin was a step back in terms of level and we all know it’s a match-up based on sentimentality.

"Instead, we’ll now seek a fight that will push Mick up the rankings quicker. It’ll be the hardest fight of his career.

"We are already in discussions with some high-class opponents to step up to the plate and we'll be bringing the public news on that - along with further attractive match-ups on the bill - as soon as we can, so stay tuned."

Conlan quit amateur boxing for the pro ranks after the suspect decision to award Nikitin victory in their bantamweight quarter-final three years ago.

Most observers felt that the Russian, who was too badly injured to compete in the semi-finals, had clearly lost.

Their rematch in August was announced last month, with Conlan tweeting, "wanted this fight from that day, August 16th 2016. REVENGE will be sweet!!"

Nikitin, who signed with Conlan's promoters Top Rank last year, said at the time: "I am coming to Michael's hometown during their biggest festival to show everyone my Olympic victory was not a fluke. This is going to be repeat, not revenge."

The show in Conlan's hometown is close to a sell-out, and Paddy Barnes and Sean McComb are among the fighters who have been confirmed for the undercard.