Michael Conlan: I had a gun pulled on me at Rio Olympics

Michael Conlan reacts to his controversial defeat to Vladimir Nikitin at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Michael Conlan has revealed he had a gun pulled on him while he was in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Conlan (9-0, 6 KOs) was the world amateur champion at bantamweight coming into the 2016 Games but suffered a controversial defeat to Russia's Vladimir Nikitin in the quarterfinals in a match that Irish boxing team manager Joe Hennigan claims was fixed against him.

All 36 judges from that Olympic Games were subsequently suspended by AIBA after a string of questionable verdicts, but Conlan's trip to Brazil took another turn after he was eliminated.

"I ended up moving out of the [Olympic] village to stay in an apartment with my mom, my dad and my fiancee," Conlan recalled to ESPN. "Me and my dad had to go back to the village to get things. We were heading back in the taxi and we had this gun pulled on us.

"This taxi driver was driving like an absolute a------ and this guy pulled us over and pointed a gun straight through the window -- a big Desert Eagle -- right at his [the driver's] face.

"I looked at my father, he was across the car from me and he said 'don't move, stay calm'.

"I was in a mood anyway. My dreams had already been shattered. My only dream as an amateur boxer was to be an Olympic champion and I had that dream stolen from me. At the time, I couldn't really give two fingers that there was a guy stood in front of me with a big Desert Eagle."

Conlan turned professional following his exit from the Olympic Games and now faces his 10th fight in the paid ranks. He will face English brawler Jason Cunningham on Dec. 22 live on ESPN+ on the undercard of Carl Frampton's contest with IBF featherweight titlist Josh Warrington.

While Conlan freely admits Cunningham is not a step-up in opponent, he believes Cunningham will ask questions he needs to face at this stage of his career.

"Jason is a good opponent," Conlan said. "He's a southpaw, he's been in there with some good fighters in recent times.

"It's a step in the right direction for me in terms of my progression and it's a test I'm looking forward to.

"If I'm being completely 100% honest, I think dos Santos, who I fought in Belfast, was a higher quality of opponent, but he is going to be someone who asks questions of me that need to be asked.

"He will be the first southpaw I face as a professional so this is something that needs to be ticked off, but at the same time I am not underestimating Jason. He can cause problems for a lot of people so I need to be at my best.

Beating Cunningham would set up a big 2019 for Conlan. With another St. Patrick's Day bout for the Theatre at Madison Square Garden already booked in, the Irishman believes he will be in world title contention by this time next year.

"My aim before turning professional was for the end of 2019, the start of 2020 to be the time for me to make my statement and stamp my authority on the world of boxing," Conlan said.

"This time next year, I could be talking about challenging and hopefully in 2020 I will be challenging, or maybe even next year, nobody knows.

"The plan is first off we've got St. Patrick's Day again in the Theatre at Madison Square Garden and then maybe one more fight before coming back to Belfast for a big, big fight against, and please God let nothing stop this, Vladimir Nikitin."