By: Sean Crose
“It’s an all-Irish fight, the biggest all-Irish fight in the last 40 years or so,” Michael Conlon says of his upcoming hometown bout against TJ Doheny. The battle will go down at Belfast’s Falls Park in Ireland, is scheduled for 12 rounds, and is for one of the WBA’s titles. Doheny, who was originally from Ireland, but now resides in Australia, can view this as a kind of hometown fight, as well. “TJ will have his own fan base,” says Conlan, “and I’ll have my massive fan base out here in Belfast. It will make a difference from my last fights. I’m really excited. I’ve been putting the work in, and I know what I need to do.”
Although quite popular, Conlan has yet to face someone of Doheny’s caliber. For the 34 year old Doheny once held the IBF super bantamweight world title before dropping a decision to fellow world titlist Daniel Roman back in 2019. Needless to say, Doheny is put off by the fact that Friday’s fight will be at a catchweight of 124 pounds. According to Dehany, he wasn’t informed of the catch weight until early this week (though Conlan claims Doheny was informed a full two weeks in advance). Also worth noting is the fact Conlan came in two ounces heavy at Thursday’s weigh in.
“I don’t know what you’re clapping for,” Doheny told the pro Conlan crowd at the weigh in, “your man is in trouble.” It wasn’t the first time this week Doheny arguably tried to get in Conlan’s head. “Michael hasn’t been the most professional,” he said of the leadup to the fight on Wednesday. Conlan responded to Doheny’s accusations in the direct manner the man is known to communicate. “You’re losing your balls,” he said to his opponent. “Tell your story and fuck off.”
Conlan’s ultimate goal, of course, is to win a world title of his own. This means the competition will likely keep getting stronger for the 15-0 twenty nine year old, provided he bests Doheny. Conaln made his super bantamweight debut last spring in what some felt was a difficult outing against Ionut Baluta. An win over Doheny would prove the former Olympian is able to ply his trade at the world class level. A loss on Saturday, though by no means catastrophic, would certainly be a setback.
Michael Conlan-TJ Doheny will be aired live in the US on ESPN+ this Friday, starting at 3PM eastern time.