Michael Conlan: Belfast’s boxing atmosphere is hard to match anywhere else in the world

The countdown is on to Friday’s Féile Fight Night at Falls Park as Michael Conlan and TJ Doheny battle it out to see who emerges for a chance at world honors.

With fans returning to boxing in the city for the first time in 18 months, there is a huge buzz surrounding this event with the fight week activities also returning.

It all started on the grounds of City Hall yesterday when fighters took part in an open practice with a large crowd to get a taste of what to expect on Friday.

Padraig McCrory, his opponent Sergei Gorokhov and Lee McGregor of Edinburgh were the first three in the ring, followed by the main event with a warm welcome from Doheny ahead of what is his first professional fight on the island.

Conlan was the man who had come to see the most and he did a light shadowboxing workout and a bit of pad-work with the trainer, Adam Booth, and said when he left the ring that it was is a huge pleasure to be back in action in front of his home support once again.

“Coming back to Belfast is amazing,” he said. “The atmosphere is hard to match anywhere else in the world so I can’t wait to be there.

“I feel bad today because people want to take pictures with me but I haven’t been tested (Covid) yet and I can’t do it.

“It’s just the name of the game at the minute because I have to be careful.”

The Belfast man’s last two outings have been behind closed doors and while he didn’t care too much about the experience, the presence of 8,000 fans this week gives him extra buzz.

This is the biggest Irish derby clash in many years with Conlan a former amateur world champion and Doheny de Portlaoise a former IBF Super Bantamweight champion.

The pair will enter Friday’s clash knowing the winner is virtually guaranteed an upcoming world title fight, so the stakes could not be higher.

“It’s an all-Irish fight and the biggest for around 40 years the one I’m really excited for, ”Conlan admits.

“TJ will have his own fan base and I will have my massive support from here to Belfast. It will make a difference from my last few fights and I’m really excited to be in it after working out to show what I can do.

“Without a doubt, TJ is my toughest opponent and has great credentials. He won the world title in the outside corner, is a very tough guy, a durable guy and a fit guy. and leave victorious.

The fighters will attend the final press conference at the Balmoral Hotel today before coming face to face for the weigh-in at the Devenish Complex on Thursday.

The Belfast man says he’ll just take advantage of the final days before fight night before focusing on the job at hand as the long-awaited opening bell approaches.

“The hard work is done, now I sit back and enjoy the ride,” he added.

“I love being back in Belfast and this is the first time in about six weeks so it’s nice to be home and in front of a great fan base that supports me everywhere I go.

“It’s time to relax and then I’ll focus on the end of the week. “

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