Written by Tré Berry III | 08/06/2021
The contest was certainly enough for the people at Falls Park to embrace their best on Irish soil, as 🇬🇧🇮🇪Michael “Mick” Conlan (16-0-0, 8KO) hung in there tough with rugged veteran 🇮🇪TJ Doheny (22-3-0, 16KO) through 12 rounds of solid action in what was a good fight. Conlan showcased improvement in his skills, and showed different levels to his game, jumping out to the big early lead.
Doheny made a spirited comeback of sorts, but in the points aspect, the lead was insurmountable, and the early work put forth, Conlan was rewarded for it, and won the bout via Unanimous Decision, to pick up the vacant “Interim” WBA Super-Bantamweight title.
Clarifying what was…if you are wondering why an “Interim” Super-Bantamweight Title was fought at a limit of 124 lbs., it was because both parties agreed to do so, thus making the bout valid for the belt. The crowd was electric at Falls Park, and the tension felt in the first round was palpable, even with the action being largely uneventful as both took a long look at what the other was trying to do. The switch-hitter Conlan fought in the southpaw stance, and began to establish his right jab by the second stanza, both upstairs and downstairs.
He tipped his hand that his game-plan for the fight was to check-counter with the right hook, but most of his counters were picked off by Doheny’s fundamentally sound defensive positioning with his left glove. Doheny decided to make it rough in there in the 3rd round, bulling his way to the ropes, but surprisingly, as Conlan’s back was on the ropes, he was doing the better job landing to the body in closed quarters, while he was positioned on his heels.
Doheny had his moments, but Conlan getting the upper hand, and making TJ wobble with a right hand furthered his control in the bout. By this point, you could see that Conlan had improved in his craft during training, and improved as an overall fighter. He was very crafty and free flowing with his lead right hand, jabbing, hooking off the jab, and controlling the distances well, keeping TJ largely at bay. In the waning seconds of the 4th round, he staggered Doheny with a right hand & taunted him, letting him know what he was in with.
Round 5 continued to go further south for Doheny, as Conlan ripped a sharp left hook to the liver that visibly hurt TJ, forcing him to stagger back to the ropes, while Conlan stepped in to wail away, forcing him to take a knww down to the canvas in a fit of pain. He was cleared to continue, but he was still hurt, as Conlan fired away, nearly forcing a stoppage, but Doheny showed his guts in hiking his boots up, and fighting back to stop the onslaught to the bell.
Doheny rebounded with a good round 6, though Conlan still had full control within the frame. A war broke out between the two in the final 30 seconds, but once again, it was Conlan landing the bulk of the blows, particularly to the stomach. By this point, Doheny’s left eye heavily swelled up. TJ finally got himself on the map with a hard fought 7th round, rough housing his way in, and landing some impressive combos inside. There was a slight momentum shift, but would it be sustained going forward in terms of direction for the fight
Round 8 was very nip and tuck between both fighters, but TJ managed to sneak in a powerful left hand that made the legs of Conlan wobble in the last few seconds of the round – the fight of the fight looked like it was starting to turn. Round 9, Doheny closed the gap with his foot work, and lived on the inside. Conlan showed no ill effects of the punch that landed a round before, and got back to business.
This was a tough round to score, an even round in our opinion. Conlan had his best round in a while in the 10th, re-establishing his range, sticking his chin out trying to draw out a Doheny lead, daring him, and countering him at will, which worked with precision in the stanza.
The Championship rounds was upon us, and it was the former world titlist who came out like gangbusters, and had him a great round, as Doheny rapidly increased his work rate up, and landed at a much high clip in previous sounds, speeding the youngster up. At the end of the 11th round, Conlan’s right eye was heavily marked underneath with a deep laceration – fortunate for him, it wasn’t in a bad spot.
Round 12 was a beautiful one to see in terms of all out aggression, combination punching, and Irish toughness that was 100% appreciated by the Ireland crowd, who got the action that they came out for, paid for, and anticipated. The winner through the action was clear for Conlan, but we had to wait for the official scorecards for obvious reasons.
Judge Victor Loughlin’s score of 119-108 was terrible, but Steve Gray, and Ian John-Lewis was bang on with the scoring, issuing 116-111 scorecards. Nonetheless, the decision was Unanimous, and Conlan secured his best win, and his best performance as a pro, and a roar of the crowd took over Falls Park, cheering for their favorite, who is now making his bones in the pros. The animosity between the two competitors in the lead up to the fight was hostile, but immediately at the 12th and final bell, they shared a warm embrace, and showcased a new-found respect for each other, as they both went for it all.
Doheny may be long in the tooth at this point in terms of his prospects, but he should be proud of his efforts despite coming up short, and Conlan showed enough improvement, and stones, that SHOULD shift the mind of some detractors who believed that he would never graduate to a true Championship level fighter. Well done by Conlan, who picked up the “Interim” WBA Super-Bantamweight World Title. This is why he moved down to the division, and he knows that his work is far from over, as he wants to earn a full title to live out his dreams of hoisting a true title belt.