Conlan v Doheny Now For WBA Interim Featherweight Belt

This Friday’s all-Irish clash between Michael Conlan and TJ Doheny now has a title up for grabs.

The WBA’s championships committee yesterday approved that the winner would become WBA Interim featherweight champion.

It is something of a surprise turn of events given that the unbeaten Conlan (15-0, 8 KOs) is currently the WBO’s number one contender at super-bantamweight. The 2016 Olympic medallist seemed prepared to wait for his shot at the winner of the September 11 unification clash between Stephen Fulton (WBO 122lbs champion) and Brandon Figueroa (WBC and WBA).

Doheny has been fighting near the 126lb limit in his last two fights, both eight-rounders. His own world success came when he became IBF super-bantamweight campion in 2018 after beating Ryosuke Iwasa in Japan. The 34-year-old defended it successfully against Ryohei Takahashi before losing to Daniel Roman in their 2019 unification battle.

Conlan had been campaigning at featherweight for the majority of his career before his win over Ionut Balata. Wins against Jason Cunningham, Ruben Hernandez, Diego Ruiz and Vladimir Nikitin were for WBO and WBA 122lb trinkets.

The move made by Conlan’s team of Top Rank, MTK and his trainer Adam Booth may have come after watching Leigh Wood become the WBA world champion on Saturday night. ‘Leigh-thal’ proved too hot to handle for Xu Can and has now become one of the division’s hot properties. Is Conlan now targeting a bout against Wood? Will the new champion be elevated to ‘Super’ champion status given the level of inactivity from current holder Leo Santa Cruz? Hopefully this Friday night will shed some light on it all.