In a new series, published every weekday on Boxing Social, the incomparable Terry Dooley delivers his unique look at the boxing news.
Michael Conlan’s father, John, won’t be in attendance tonight at Belfast’s Falls Park as he is in Tokyo with Ireland’s amateur boxing team, but Conlan (15-0, 8 KOs) has told The Sun that not hearing that familiar voice in the crowd when he meets TJ Doheny (22-2, 16 KOs) won’t faze the 29-year-old in the slightest.
“He’ll still be in Tokyo, but it won’t be strange, no,” he said when talking to Kevin Byrne. “He’s been to most of them but not all of them so it’s nothing really new. He’s not someone I really need to hold my hand. He was in the corner my whole amateur career but then when I got on the national team, he let me go. I went and done my own thing and had some of the best performances of my whole career too. So it’s not really something I’m worried about.”
Newly-minted Conlan Boxing is promoting tonight alongside Top Rank and Conlan believes that Doheny’s pedigree means that he will go into the ring without the pressure of putting his opponent away for the first time in his 15-fight career.
“It feels like one of the first times there’s no pressure,” he added. “I feel like for the first time I can just go in there and perform, be me.”
Doheny and his team erupted yesterday as they expected the fight to take place at 122lbs only for a catchweight of 124lbs to be announced so that the interim WBA featherweight title could be put up for grabs. Doheny raged about the change of poundage, claiming that Conlan only stipulated it because he struggles to make the Super bantamweight limit.
There was talk of Doheny walking away from the fight, but that type of talk rarely amounts to anything but empty rhetoric and he hit the scales at 123.8lbs only for Conlan to initially come 2oz over the artificial weight limit that he had set in order to give himself every possible advantage.
The fight will still take place, and over 12 rounds rather than the 10 that Doheny claims was offered to him, but Conlan was unapologetic when reflecting on Doheny’s complaints, arguing that his opponent was simply looking for a bit more money. “It was good,” he said when talking about the pre-fight to-do.
“I know he’s a little angry man. I’ve seen it in his other fights. When he gets to the press conference, he likes to have a bit of an attitude and a bit of a go. He’s very easy to wind up. Very easy to entertain. I gave him a wee bite back, let him see: ‘I’m here’. I’m excited about the fight. It’s going to be a great night.”
Floyd Mayweather (50-0, 27 KOs) may be retired, but according to many accounts the 44-year-old continues to spend his money like a drunken sailor on shore leave in a big American city. Sure, he can still attract the occasional big, novelty payday fighting the odd YouTube star yet money is finite and life swallows it up so “Money” might have to cut his cloth accordingly in what will be a long retirement.
However, should he hit skid row Mayweather can always count on having a place to live as he appears to be living rent free in former opponent Manny Pacquiao’s head, which has increased in size year in and year out ever since the 42-year-old decided to move to America.
Mayweather recently trousered a fair chunk of change for holding YouTuber Logan Paul up for a few rounds. Pacquiao, though, has said that he would never stoop so low as he believes that these bouts can cause damage to a fighter’s legacy.
“No, I will not,” said Pacquiao when asked if he would take on a YouTuber like Jake Paul, Logan’s brother, who has called Manny out, during a recent press conference for his upcoming fight against Errol Spence Jr. on August 21 for one of the WBC and IBF welterweight titles. “I want to fight the best to add into my legacy.”
Mayweather, though, has defended his decision, telling TalkSport that he does not have to fight just to earn money whereas some of his former rivals are now having to plug on after pumping their money into other, more costly, pursuits such as politics: “Pacquiao, he has to fight but I don’t,” he said.
“I put myself in a position where I don’t have to fight anymore. I’m financially set, and I want to make everybody hear this. You’re going to hear a lot of people say: ‘Floyd needed to do this.’ No, I’m well off.”
After years of “Will they, won’t they” Mayweather and Pacquiao fans finally got to witness a fight between the two in 2015 when both men were well past their best. Mayweather cantered to an easy decision win, one of his last fights in the professional ring, while Manny’s vociferous fan base argued it was only possible because their man was past his best and that Mayweather had relied on his greater innate technical ability to win rather than standing still and allowing his opponent to tee off on him.
Since then, Pacquiao has posted some good wins, as well as a loss to Australia’s unheralded, raw Jeff Horn, and has shown glimpses of the form that took him to the top, but over almost half a decade ago what was left of this form was nowhere near good enough to settle the score with Mayweather, who retired with his ‘0’ intact and his legacy in place. Don’t bet against a Seniors Tour rematch between the two, though, but if it does take place then put your house on Mayweather, again.
Tyson Fury’s (30-0-1, 21 early) recent battle against Covid-19 left the WBC heavyweight titlist house-bound, with only the occasional jaunts to local casinos permitted by his medical team as he strives to recover in time for his rubber match with former holder Deontay Wilder.
Like most of us found out during Lockdown, Fury has discovered that there are worst things than a global pandemic to deal with. “The Gypsy King” has revealed that his recent stint of convalescence has thrown up the most unlikely of nemesis, a formidable foe who has taken down some of the biggest and baddest names in the world, and who shows no sign of stopping her relentless march.
“Peppa Pig, I’m going to make a bacon sandwich out of you,” he said during an interview that will go out on tonight’sThe Lateish Show With Mo Gilligan on Channel 4. Fury is a father of five, with a sixth on the way, so he is no stranger to the show, and the fact that Peppa is omniscient on TV and other devices has driven him to distraction.
“Peppa Pig, I fucking hate you,” he added. “I wake up to the kids in the morning at 6am, three iPads on the bed screaming: ‘Peppa Pig, Peppa Pig’.
The 32-year-old rematches Wilder in October, but he is also lining up Anthony Joshua for a multi-title bonanza at some point in 2022. Luckily, he is not too fussed about the venue and we all know that there is plenty of space in Eddie Hearn’s back garden if they cannot find anywhere decent, so what could possibly go wrong between now and then, apart from either one of both of them losing and stripping the fight of all of its appeal? “I’d do the fight in AJ’s back garden if he wants!” declared Fury.
With the Olympics drawing to a close and medals still up for grab it is good to remember that not every Olympian walks away with a medal, a contract, the power to make money and a nation behind them.
In 2012, Cameroon’s Thomas Essomba (10-7-1, 4 stoppages) made a life-changing decision when he decided to pack his bags and walk away from London’s Olympic Village in order to seek asylum here in the UK. The Captain of his team, Essomba and four other athletes decided to walk away, and he is still here today as he continues to come to terms with the enormity of his decision.
“It was a very, very difficult decision, I wasn’t happy to be honest,” he said when speaking to The Associated Press. “The UK is my country now. I’m happy to be here. By the grace of God I think everything will be all right.”
Essomba was not the first athlete to use the Olympics to escape from their home country and nor will he be the last. The prestigious event has a rich history of defections, with many athletes seeing it as more than just a chance to win a medal — for some it is an opportunity to begin a new life in a more tolerant or stable country, which begs the question as to why so many decide to decamp to the UK and Europe.
Indeed, Essomba has stated that life wasn’t too bad for him back home, so the decision was made off the cuff and he has spent the intervening years working out why he decided to make it. “The only thing I’m scared of was going back and stop doing boxing, because boxing is all my life,” he said. “They don’t like challenge. I’ve tried to challenge them and my life became dangerous.”
Like many nations, Cameroon has numerous issues and, for many of its citizens, life is greener on the other side. As Essomba explained: “Everything changed when I came here. But I said, ‘Listen, my life first’. I had to protect my life.”
Essomba and his fellow defectors headed for the safety and sanctuary of south London via a late-night bus ride, which they somehow managed to survive, and he started the process of becoming a British citizen. Eventually, a six-month Visa was parlayed into a longer stay.
“I didn’t know anything about the UK,” he said. “Even applying for asylum, I didn’t know that I was supposed to do it,” He has made visits back to his place of birth and won the Commonwealth flyweight title as a professional. However, he still harbours the hope of underlining his new citizenship by winning the British title despite the fact that his last fight was a decision loss to Marc Leach in Sheffield Arena’s car park as part of Dennis Hobson’s Drive-Thru boxing innovation.
As medals rain down upon the fighters in this year’s Games, it is good and timely to remember that not every Olympian is presented with garlands of gold and lucrative professional debuts, some are just fighting for survival and for the right to live their lives, wherever that may take them.
“Everything in my life is in the UK now, so I don’t think I’m going back,” said the 33-year-old. “I haven’t reached my goal yet. My goal is to have a British title. This is my hope. So that’s why I keep fighting. I believe I will do it.”