TJ Doheny reveals he almost walked away from boxing less than a year before World Title win


World Champion TJ Doheny [20(14)-0] has revealed that he almost stepped away from boxing towards the end of 2017.

Back then the Portlaoise super bantamweight was 17-0, ranked highly, and had just seen an IBF world title final eliminator in Russia versus Evgeny Gradovich fall through.

Doheny relocated from Sydney to Boston for a training camp with Hector Bermudez that year, but saw fight after fight delayed meaning that he was kept away from his young family Down Under.

These delays appeared to be worth it when a final eliminator was secured, but when Gradovich pulled out and subsequently retired, Doheny began to consider his options.

“My career wasn’t really progressing even though I was lined up for a world title,” he recalls.

“What happened was, my son was born and I was on a promise of fights here [America]. My son was only two months old and I left to come to America to get ready for a fight – it fell through, we got another date, that fell through, fights just kept falling through.”

“I was starting to lose faith, there’s only so much you can do and I was away from my family, away from my little boy.”

“I had my bag packed, I was ready to move on, go back to Sydney and reset and go again – then the phonecall came from Thailand and it just started steamrolling from there.”

This call from Thailand was for another final eliminator, around the same timeframe, versus home favourite Mike Tawatchi.

The rest, as they say, is history, with Doheny defeating the South East Asian before heading to the Far East and dethroning Ryosuke Iwasa in Japan.

Doheny described how “we got a blessing, we got a phone call for an eliminator in Thailand, we won that, got to Japan, snatched the belt from Iwasa, and here I am about to defend my title in Madison Square Garden on Friday night.”

“Unbelievable stuff, the stuff of dreams”

“Just before I won the eliminator, I had a lot of problems, a lot of setbacks.”

“Honestly, I was thinking about going looking for a job, that’s where I was at.”

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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