Boxing

TJ Doheny will throw all he has into last stand against Michael Conlan

Off the Laois... TJ Doheny celebrates after beating Ryosuke Iwasa to win the IBF world super-bantamweight title in Tokyo in 2018. Portlaoise native Doheny won by a unanimous decision
Andy Watters

TJ Doheny will throw everything into a last stand against Michael Conlan in the all-Ireland bill-topping battle at Feile an Phobail on August 6.

Portloaise southpaw Doheny is five years older and a couple of inches shorter than Conlan but he has been to where the Belfast man has yet to go – the world title summit – and is determined to bar his way when they face-off in Falls Park.

Fighting in Conlan’s backyard is unlikely to annoy Australia-based Doheny too much. He won the IBF super-bantamweight title in Tokyo’s legendary fight venue Korakuen Hall by out-pointing local favourite Ryosuke Iwasa in 2018 and went on to defend the belt at Madison Square Garden against another Japanese - Ryohei Takahashi.

He fell short against Daniel Roman in a unification battle two years ago but gave the LA native an unrelenting battle at the Inglewood Forum before losing on majority decision.

Since then Doheny has lost to Ionut Baluta (by decision in Dubai). Baluta had previously knocked out David Oliver Joyce but Conlan was able to bring his run of Irish victories to an end when he won on points at York Hall, London in April.

Doheny says he “cannot wait” to prove he is Ireland’s number one super-bantam.

“This will be my first time fighting on Irish soil, and I can’t think of a better homecoming,” he said.

“It doesn’t get much bigger than this for an all-Irish clash, and the fans are in for a real treat.

“This is the kind of fight that I have been craving since my close majority decision loss to Daniel Roman. Top opposition is what motivates me and helps me raise my game. I cannot wait for this.”

Once again, all eyes will be on Conlan who has the burden of expectation on his shoulders every time he ducks through the ropes. His win over Baluta was clear cut but it wasn’t the comprehensive stoppage win that he predicted and wanted.

Doheny is just the opponent he needs at this stage to kick on to a world title shot later this year or early 2022 in New York.

“It will be an honour to share the ring with TJ,” said Conlan.

“I have a lot of respect for him and his achievements. I believe it’s my toughest fight to date, and with that, I will make my biggest statement in my quest to become a world champion.”

McCrory faces Russia's Gorokhov in WBC title fight

IT’S the Belfast ‘Hammer’ versus the Russian sickle at the Falls Park Feile on August 6 when Padraig McCrory challenges WBC International super-middleweight champion Sergei Gorokhov (11-2-2).

Gorokhov, from Kaliningrad, is an aggressive, come-forward brawler who will take it to ‘Pody’ on the night and, after winning his WBC belt in Belgrade in April, fighting on foreign soil doesn’t seem to cause him any sleepless nights.

McCrory (11-0) signed professional forms with Manchester-based Kieran Farrell four years ago and admits he never truly believed he would ever fight for a title that will give him a global ranking.

“Kieran was putting on small hall shows, so to be at this stage now is something that I’ve worked hard for but, four years ago, I wouldn’t have thought that I would have got to this stage,” he said.

McCrory made his debut with Farrell (a points win over Jacob Lucas) and was then confirmed for the undercard of the ill-fated Carl Frampton versus Andrew Gutierrez bill in 2017. That bill never happened of course and, after a subsequent bill fell through, McCrory and Farrell parted company.

But ‘The Hammer’ has been able to rebuild and now stands on the verge of taking a massive step up the super-middleweight ladder.

“Gorokhov’s record is 11-2-2 but you just need to look at his last fight when he won the title,” said McCrory.

“He came out in the 10th round and knocked a 27-year-old guy out. He’s an aggressive fighter, he comes forward and it’s something that I’m going to have to deal with but I think we have a very good gameplan to deal with his style.”

McCrory has five stoppage wins on his record and has genuine one-punch KO power in his right hand when he lands clean. That is a handy deterrent to have in his locker but he says he can’t rely on the big shot on fight night.

“I carry that power and we plan on using it, but not relying on,” he said.

“He sets a very high pace for 10 rounds so I have to be smart and know when and when not to punch.”

Victories over Sean McGlinchey (in his fourth fight) and Steve Collins junior (at Feile two years’ ago) marked skilful McCrory as a man to watch and he paved the way to next month’s title fight with a stoppage win over Mickey Ellison in England in September last year.

“They were all steps up and I dealt with them,” said the west Belfast native.

This is a new level. This guy is a well-schooled Russian and he’s coming off a really good win. I’m hoping to win, get a good ranking in the top 20 and then the world’s my oyster.

“I was due to fight 13 weeks’ ago and I did a full camp there. We knew the Feile might happen so I was back in the gym straight away and I’m in great shape.

“I’m hitting new numbers in terms of strength and condition and I still have five weeks’ to go.”

McComb to feature on Feile bill

SEAN McComb will take on Welsh battler Craig Woodruff over eight rounds at Feile an Phobail on August 6.

It’s a challenging comeback fight for Belfast’s McComb who will have Dubliner Peter Taylor in his corner for the first time and needs to find form and confidence again after he retired mid-round against Gavin Gwynne last time out.

Gwynne was a tough as they come and Woodruff - who dropped and badly hurt Gary Cully (the Dubliner recovered to win on points) last year – is no shrinking violet either.

The Newport native is seen by some as a gatekeeper in the lightweight division and he will be looking for a Welsh double over ‘The Public Nuisance’ who will look to right the wrongs of his last fight.

There’s no better way of doing that than against a genuine tough guy who’s capable of causing anyone trouble on his day.

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Boxing