It got heated between Michael Conlan [15(8)-0] and TJ Doheny [22(16)-2(0)] for the first time at the final press conference ahead of their eagerly anticipated world-level all-Irish clash this weekend.
Both fighters have been ultra respectful in the build-up to the Falls Park-hosted Féile Fight Night set for this Friday and one of the highest level all-Irish fights ever made.
However, words were exchanged in Belfast this afternoon, as they produced an old-school top table performance and one of the most entertaining press conferences since the Carl Frampton era.
With news breaking late Monday night that the winner of the fight would be crowned WBA interim featherweight [126lbs] world champion, Doheny claimed he had only agreed to fight at the 122lbs super bantamweight limit and debate ensued.
Conlan, who went on to question the Australian-based, American-trained, Portlaoise native’s ‘balls’, argued a 124lbs catchweight was agreed upon over two weeks ago.
Speaking today, Doheny said: “It looks like he can’t make the weight. I’ve been in training camp for the past 12 weeks and I have changed my body composition to get myself down into the super-bantamweight division.
“Now, all of a sudden I am being asked to move to featherweight. I’m in talks with my management at the minute and we are trying to rub out the discrepancies.
“At the end of the day it is professional boxing. Professional meaning you agree to a certain weight division and a certain category and you stick to it. You can’t go changing things up at the last hour.”
Olympic medal winner Conlan saw weakness in ‘The Power’ raising the issue, suggesting the signs suggest Doheny hasn’t trained properly.
“TJ is yapping about things which he agreed to and then went back on because something different has been put on the line,” claimed Conlan.
“He is saying ‘I don’t want to fight at 126kg, I want to fight at 122’, after agreeing at 124 two weeks ago.”
“Now he is saying he wants to fight at 122 and he doesn’t want to do 12 rounds, he wants to do 10 rounds.”
“Has he not prepared right? What is the difference between 10 and 12 rounds? There’s nothing, the same preparation is done.”
“As soon as it was offered to me I was 100%. It’s a 126lb title and I’ll still make 124lb, what more do you want?”
🤜🏼🤛🏼Some verbal sparring between @mickconlan11 and @TjDoheny ahead of their all-Irish fight at @FeileBelfast this Friday. 8k fans will get to watch on as the pair take to the ring at Falls Park. pic.twitter.com/KPCKubrTx0— Cool FM News (@newsoncool) August 3, 2021
When the fight was first announced there was a sense it would act as a WBO super bantamweight world title eliminator of sorts. However, late Monday night news broke the WBA interim world title belt would be on the line – and it became apparent the pair would fight at featherweight.
The camps now have two days to resolve the issue and it’s very likely some form of compromise will be reached – although it will be interesting to see who gives way.
It appears Doheny would gain an advantage by forcing the Belfast hero to boil down the extra two pounds if indeed 122lbs is the agreed weight in the contract.
However, the 34-year-old, who holds an amateur win over Jamie Conlan as well as Carl Frampton, may want direct passage back to a world title fight and if the WBA interim title is on the line, the winner would most likely be next in line for Leigh Wood, who claimed the WBA ‘regular’ world title with victory over China’s Xu Can in Fight Camp last Saturday.
It’s wasn’t an ideal turn of events for Top Rank and Conlan boxing it’s a resolvable issue and the tension and drama can only prove to hype the best all Irish fight for 40-years further.