TJ Doheny hopes for Irish Homecoming card “sooner rather than later”


TJ Doheny [20(14)-0] fights in New York this Friday night and there is a unification in the pipeline but the IBF super bantamweight king is keen to fight in his homeland for the first time.

Having emigrated to Australia over a decade ago and before he turned pro, the Portlaoise puncher has never had a professional bout in Ireland and he wants to change this soon.

Doheny defends his red belt for the first time at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on Friday, making his Matchroom debut with a voluntary versus Japan’s Ryohei Takahashi.

WBA titlist and new stablemate Danny Roman is on the horizon but the 32-year-old also wants to fight at home soon.

Doheny explained how “Ireland will always be home.”

“Portlaoise is where I’m from and it’s very close to my heart. I get a lot of support from back there, they’re great people.”

“The people of Portlaoise are really buzzing to get me back there.”

‘The Power’ admits that a fight at home has long been desired and noted that any Irish fighter that’s been fighting overseas, that’s in the back of your head all the time, getting home to fight in your hometown.”

“Especially being a world champion, I think I’d be a good draw back there.”

Indeed, he is joined by Katie Taylor, Jono Carroll, and potential future foe Ryan Burnett in the Matchroom stable, and Doheny believes that this could form the basis of a stellar show back home.

The Laois fighter described how “with the talent that we have in Ireland right now, we could make a fantastic card – especially with the amount of Matchroom fighters.”

“That is a potential move and hopefully it’s sooner rather than later.”

Of course, there are a number of issues that need to be mentioned before continuing.

In terms of a card in Laois, there is no viable indoor venue – and a stadium event at O’Moore Park would look to be a non-runner.

In terms of the Republic of Ireland as a whole, Doheny’s management outfit are currently engaged in a self-imposed exile – although this looks to be cooling recently.

A big card in Dublin, at present, seems unlikely – but a major bill in Cork headlined by Taylor has been proposed by Sky Sports Head of Boxing Adam Smith.

READ: Sky boss wants Katie Taylor Fight Festival

Belfast remains an option – and the Titanic City and the SSE Odyssey Arena could play host to a clash between Doheny and Burnett down the line.

Doheny just wants to fight at home and recalled his special homecoming event after he snatched the title from Ryosuke Iwasa in Tokyo last August.

The Sydney-based boxer detailed how “I got back to Portlaoise and they put me in this convertible car and, at the start, there was a parade through the town and I looked back and there was a good crowd. But the main street goes up a hill and I remember getting the top of the hill and looking back and the street was black. You couldn’t see nothing, it was just crowed with people, it just gathered momentum the whole way.”

“It just goes to show that people are looking to grasp on to someone to support and now we have a world champion.”

“The town where I come from, Portlaoise, it’s a real sporting town and I think it deserves to have something like this to be able to follow and progress.”

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie