Michael Conlan stayed unbeaten with another win today in front of a spirited Belfast crowd, out-pointing TJ Doheny over 12 rounds of mostly one-sided boxing.
Conlan (16-0, 8 KO) took the W on scores of 116-111, 116-111, and 119-108. Bad Left Hook had it 118-109 on our unofficial card, with Doheny (22-3, 16 KO) dropped in the fourth round, and while he gave the effort throughout, he was just almost always a step behind Conlan, and unable to force the rough-and-tumble affair he would have needed to even have an argument.
The 34-year-old Doheny was a curious choice of opponent in some ways, but being a native of Portlaois, Ireland, he also made perfect sense to face the Belfast man at this sort of event. Doheny, a former 122 lb titleholder, hadn’t fought since an upset loss to Ionut Baluta in Dubai back in Mar. 2020, which only adds to how ridiculous it was that the WBA put an “interim” featherweight title on the line here, but sanctioning bodies do as they please.
Conlan was previously the WBO’s top-ranked contender at featherweight, which was pretty absurd considering he’s never fought a serious contender as a pro, but then he moved down to 122 lbs so that he wouldn’t have to openly pass on what would have been an order to fight Emanuel Navarrete for the vacant WBO belt at 126. Conlan narrowly beat Baluta on points this past April at 122, and this move back up to 126 gives him that interim belt, which may not mean he’s a world champion — and to be very clear, it does not — but does give him multiple options moving forward.
Conlan turns 30 in November and has inched his way forward as a professional in the last four-and-a-half years, but he gave a pretty strong performance today, even if it wasn’t the most exciting thing to watch most of the time. Doheny put in the work, but he couldn’t find Conlan consistently enough to win many rounds.
Lee McGregor KO-4 Vincent LeGrand
This wasn’t the best performance we’ve seen to date from McGregor (11-0, 9 KO) by any means. He looked flat for a couple of rounds, including getting sort of casually dropped in the second round on a nice 1-2-1 combination from LeGrand (32-1, 17 KO), but then he was able to find the body with a great shot in the fourth, and that was it. LeGrand took the knee, spat out the mouthpiece, and took the 10-count.
McGregor, 24, retains his European bantamweight title with this win, beating a former European flyweight champ who had come up in weight and been fighting mostly in regional-level bouts in France for whatever reason. McGregor looked bigger and thicker than the Frenchman here; they were about the same height, but it was obvious that the Edinburgh native was the natural bantamweight.
“I’m happy I got the win, I’m a bit disappointed by the performance,” McGregor admitted. “I was just a bit too eager and wanted to impress too much. I got caught by a shot, literally a flash shot. I feel like I controlled every single thing but that shot. Disappointed, to be honest.”
He continued, “But in a couple months time, I’ll be saying, ‘That was the best thing to happen to me.’ It’s another step on the road and another part of my journey to becoming world champion.”
McGregor made a couple of mistakes here, sure, but he’s young, still putting it together, and the natural talent and power are there, he’s got a ton to like still and is already a top 10 bantamweight in the world, at least in my opinion. Is he ready to leap right in with the tippy-top guys at 118? Probably not, but he’s working toward that, and not being rash about anything. This wasn’t a perfect performance, but he got the result, and decisively so.
- Tyrone McKenna UD-10 Jose Felix Jr: A rugged, very entertaining fight. Neither McKenna (22-2-1, 6 KO) nor Felix (39-5-1, 30 KO) are headed for world honors at 140, but these guys put on a tough, hard-hitting bout for 10 full rounds. Both were ruled down once, though the call against Felix early was pretty questionable. The win does get McKenna the WBO’s “Inter-Continental” title, which means a rankings place for him, and he’s a charismatic, entertaining fighter who might get a chance in a big fight sometime; worse fighters have gotten world title shots.
- Paddy Donovan KO-1 Jose Luis Castillo: Not that Jose Luis Castillo. This one is an Argentine fighter who got brought in on very short notice (they weighed in this morning), and then lasted a bit over a minute before a left hand body shot from the southpaw Donovan (7-0, 5 KO) ended things with a 10-count. Castillo (9-6-1, 6 KO) felt it and that was that. Donovan, 22, is a legit promising prospect, no question about that, and a very marketable guy on paper.
- Padraig McCrory TKO-5 Sergei Gorokhov: A somewhat quiet first few rounds, but McCrory turned up the heat some in the fourth, dropped Gorokhov with a good shot on the chin, and may have broken Gorokhov’s nose, which is what led to the fifth round stoppage on doctor recommendation. McCrory (12-0, 5 KO) is 33 years old so the chance to move up the super middleweight ladder is going to be relatively short. Gorokhov drops to 11-3-2 (7 KO), and also drops the (checks note) “WBC International title” to the Belfast native.