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Michael Conlan eyes unification bout after TJ Doheny win

Belfast man happy to drop down to super-bantam for world title shot


Michael Conlan after beating TJ Doheny during their interim WBA featherweight contest at Falls Park in Belfast on Friday

Michael Conlan after beating TJ Doheny during their interim WBA featherweight contest at Falls Park in Belfast on Friday

Michael Conlan after beating TJ Doheny during their interim WBA featherweight contest at Falls Park in Belfast on Friday

A shot at the winner of September’s super-bantamweight title unification clash between Stephen Fulton and Brandon Figueroa remains on Michael Conlan’s radar following his victory over TJ Doheny at the Falls Park on Friday.

The Belfast man collected the interim WBA featherweight title on a unanimous points decision, but believes he can still reign in the 122lb division.

Conlan produced a career-best display against former world champion Doheny to confirm his credentials as a world class operator and now believes he has options aplenty.

“I’m still looking to fight the winner of Stephen Fulton and Brandon Figueroa,” he confirmed.

“The 126 (featherweight belt) just came up but I can fluctuate between both.

“I’m a giant at both weights. I’m big at 126 but I’m even bigger at 122 so the opportunities are there in both decisions and I’m happy to take them.

“I won’t think what the plan is now. Jamie (Conlan, brother and manager) and Adam (Booth, trainer) are the bosses. I’m going to go away on a holiday next Thursday and enjoy life again.”

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It was a raucous night in West Belfast with fans retuning to boxing for the first time since the pandemic hit.

Two years had passed since Conlan last boxed in his home city and the enthusiasm had not waned as the atmosphere was electric throughout.

The home favourite produced a performance befitting of the occasion, dropping Doheny with a barrage in the fifth and while the Portlaoise man showed plenty of character to recover and enjoy his moments, there was no disputing the victor.

Conlan showed a bit of everything on the night to box, fight, slip and move so it was a hugely satisfying outcome for the 29-year-old.

“I didn’t think 2019 could be beaten but tonight beat it,” he said of the occasion.

“Maybe it was the fight that added to it, but that atmosphere... At the start tonight, I was nervous, but as the warm-up went on, I could feel myself rising and thought this is what I’m here for.

“I think questions were answered. I’ll still get criticised, as I always do, but I’m happy and my team is happy with my performance. I think my progression is looking good and the better the opponent I perform better.

“You’ve seen me in the world (amateur) finals, the Olympics - I get better when the opposition gets better.”

The manner of victory and performance delighted head trainer, Adam Booth, who believes his man showed huge improvements and is now beginning to go through the gears having improved to 16-0.

“It was a huge progression in terms of him being a professional fighter,” said Booth.

“He’s showing some experience now and we can see that he’s not just a boxer, but there’s a fighting side. I’ve always said he’s a world class body puncher and he showed that tonight.”

It was a successful night for the home fighters as both Tyrone McKenna and Padraig McCrory scored big wins to collect silverware.

McKenna came out a points winner over Jose Felix to take the WBO Inter-Continental light-welterweight title on a points decision after an absorbing 10-rounds where both men were down.

Padraig McCrory entered deep waters against Sergei Gorokhov, but delivered the performance he wanted to stop the Russian n the fifth round to take the WBC Silver International super-middleweight title.

‘The Hammer’ took charge as this fight progressed to leave the defending champion with a damaged nose that required the doctor to inspect in the fourth and for a second time in the fifth that prompted the end.

Elsewhere, there were wins for Sean McComb, James McGivern, Fearghus Quinn, Callum Bradley, Paddy Donovan and Cian Lewis, while Scotlan’d’s Lee McGregor overcame an early scare to defend his European bantamweight title with a fourth round stoppage of Vincent Legrand.

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