Michael Conlan elevated his world title choices with a unanimous factors victory over TJ Doheny for the WBA interim featherweight belt in Belfast, Northern Eire, on Friday.
Two-time Olympian Conlan pressured a depend within the fifth spherical on his option to a hard-fought factors win (119-108, 116-111 and 116-111) over his robust Irish rival in entrance of a crowd of 8,000 at Feile an Phobail in Falls Park.
Conlan (16-0, 8 KOs), 29, of Belfast, now holds the third-most-valuable featherweight belt of the WBA governing physique. Leo Santa Cruz of Mexico is the WBA “tremendous” champion however has not defended the featherweight belt since February 2019, whereas England’s Leigh Wooden stopped China’s Xu Can within the final spherical for the WBA “common” world title final Saturday.
However Conlan can be ranked No 1 with the WBO at junior featherweight, and is due a compulsory shot at that world title at 122 lbs. Friday’s victory means he additionally now has a selection of weights to go for his first world title.
“It isn’t even concerning the belt, it is concerning the environment, nothing can create an environment like Belfast,” Conlan mentioned. “It was an honor to share the ring with TJ. I knew I’d get him to the physique, however I knew it might go to factors as a result of TJ is a tricky motherf—er. I believed it was a mature efficiency towards a former world champion. I am actually glad.
“I am planning to struggle at 122 kilos, this chance got here up and I mentioned no drawback. I am nonetheless seeking to struggle the winner of [WBO world bantamweight champion] Stephen Fulton versus [WBC and WBA champion] Brandon Figueroa [who fight on Sept. 11].
“Now my choices open up much more. I would not thoughts doing each.”
It was simply the end result Conlan wanted after his progress towards a primary world title try was delayed by an ankle damage sustained final yr, after which an unconvincing majority factors win in his final struggle over Romania’s Ionut Baluta in April.
Doheny (22-3, 16 KOs), 34, who made one protection of the IBF junior featherweight title in 2019 earlier than being crushed by Daniel Roman, is from Portlaois within the Republic of Eire however is predicated in New South Wales after beginning his skilled profession in Australia in 2012. This was Doheny’s first skilled struggle in Eire, however he was given a hostile reception in Conlan’s yard for his first struggle since an eight-round factors loss to Baluta in March 2020.
Conlan, who received bronze on the 2012 Olympics and trains in England, landed the cleaner punches early on however nonetheless completed the second spherical with a bloody nostril. Doheny, who moved to Australia in 2008 earlier than turning skilled in 2012, couldn’t pin Conlan down within the third spherical regardless of trapping him within the nook.
Conlan labored effectively to the physique on the within after which confirmed fast hand velocity later within the third as he started to look extra snug. Conlan completed the fourth in command too, when a proper hook left Doheny taking a backward hop on the bell.
Doheny was in additional hassle within the fifth when he touched down with a knee for a depend after being damage by a physique shot. Conlan then tried to complete it amid a fierce assault, however he was met with some gritty and courageous resistance from Doheny, who ended the spherical firing again. Conlan endured with the appropriate to the physique, however his punches didn’t disturb Doheny within the following rounds.
Conlan was too slick, however fellow southpaw Doheny ensured he was not dominated and stored on the entrance foot till the top. The eleventh had good moments from each boxers and was nice leisure. Conlan tried to provide the knockout end to fulfill a raucous crowd within the closing spherical, however Doheny stored firing in a Twelfth-round slugfest.
Additionally on the invoice in Belfast, native hero Tyrone McKenna (22-2-1, 6 KOs) defeated Jose Felix Jr. (39-5-1, 30 KOs), of Mexico, by unanimous factors choice (97-91, 97-92, 99-91) at tremendous light-weight. Scotland’s Lee McGregor (11-0, 9 KOs) recovered from an early knockdown to cease France’s Vincent Legrand (32-1, 17 KOs) with a physique shot within the fourth spherical to defend his European bantamweight title.