By: Hans Themistode
Michael Conlan had a point to prove. In order to do so, the 29-year-old Irishman officially shed the “prospect” tag and instead, replaced it with the word champion.
In an all Ireland showdown against his fellow countrymen and former titleholder TJ Doheny, Conlan dominated his man. With the WBA interim featherweight title on the line and with his rabid fanbase watching and screaming his name from Falls Park in Belfast, Conlan didn’t waste the moment.
Kicking things off, neither fighter appeared interested in taking many risks. Conlan pumped out a slow and lethargic jab but rarely hit the mark. Doheny continued to play it safe during the first half of their contest. At the age of 34 and losing two of his past three contests overall, Doheny appeared uninterested in getting clipped with a big-time shot.
Noticing that Doheny’s offense was coming few and far between, Conlan began picking up his aggression. He landed numerous right hands and avoided the rare moments in which Doheny attempted to let his hands go.
Trailing at the midway point of their contest, Doheny got his offense going. While he was hoping to land something of note, his willingness to begin exchanging was actually to his detriment as Conlan landed a shot to the midsection. The strength of the blow forced Doheny to take a knee, although he managed to beat the count.
Now, full of confidence, Conlan kept the pedal to the metal. Throughout the remainder of the middle rounds, the 29-year-old pushed his considerably older opponent back and pushed for the stoppage win. Using fire with fire, however, Doheny began uncorking several shots that seemed to get the respect of Conlan.
With the championship rounds upon us and with Doheny needing a miraculous finish, the former titleholder began swinging for the fences but couldn’t land his money shot. By the end of it all, their contest was easy to score as all three judges handed Conlan the lopsided victory.