TJ Doheny to face Marco Demecillo on Friday
This Friday, TJ Doheny will undergo his first significant test as a prospect. The 28-year-old featherweight will face heavy-handed Filipino Marco Demecillo in a 12-round bout at Club Punchbowl in Punchbowl, Australia.
The fight is the type that goes a long way toward making a young fighter’s reputation as a prospect. But before he enters the ring, Doheny has already come a long way in more ways than one.
Doheny (10-0, 7 knockouts) grew up in the small town of Portlaois in the Midlands of Ireland. The neighborhood he grew up in is called Knockmay Estate, a council housing estate with a boxing sound that hinted at the path he’d go down in life.
“It’s a council housing estate that wouldn’t have the best reputation in the town but I wouldn’t change where I grew up if I had the choice,” said Doheny. “It’s one of those places where you kinda grow up fast and have to learn how to stand up for yourself or you’re gonna get picked on.”
It’s here where Doheny first followed friends to the local boxing club at age seven. He began his amateur career at age 11 and by the time his amateur career was over, he had fought 200 times – including 40 times internationally – and won five national titles along the way.
Doheny had designs on representing his country at the Olympics but lost out to eventual London 2012 silver medalist John Joe Nevin in the 2008 All-Ireland senior finals. Shortly after, the global financial crisis hit Ireland hard and many Irish people were moving to Australia in search of work.
Doheny was just 21 but made the decision to travel halfway around the world to see what was in store for him in the Sydney, Australia suburb of Bondi Junction.
“It was a spur or the moment kind of thing. I had just got beaten in the All-Ireland senior finals and I was feeling a bit down so I decided to take a break and I ended up in Australia and I just fell in love with the place,” Doheny says.
Initially, Doheny found work quickly in construction but hadn’t given much thought to a pro career in boxing. He kept in shape at the Bondi Boxing Club, run by trainer Tony Del Vecchio. Doheny fought every so often in amateur bouts but soon the temptation to turn pro was too great.
“He had a couple of pros training with him and I seen how active they were and I wanted some of that, so I approached Tony and he was chuffed [pleased] because he had been trying to get me to turn over for a while,” said Doheny.
In 2012, Doheny made his pro debut and, within five months, had jumped to the six-round level. He has found a growing following among the local Irish community that has made similar sacrifices for their futures. Winning a regional title early on has helped him earn a No. 13 ranking with the WBA at 122 pounds.
Friday’s fight will be just his 11th pro fight but his fifth to be scheduled for 12 rounds.
“TJ has defeated a number of solid, journeymen-level fighters in the Asia Pacific already, so the next genuine step was the face a stronger, more internationally credentialed opponent,” said Mike Altamura, Doheny’s manager. “Demecillo’s a power puncher and certainly presents danger but I believe the rewards are there for TJ with victory.”
Demecillo (20-3-1, 15 KOs), of Iligan City, Philippines, has the deeper pro resume of the two but has fought primarily as a junior bantamweight and bantamweight in his career. His biggest win was a 2012 third round knockout of previously unbeaten fighter Marvin Mabait, who would later challenge for the WBC junior bantamweight title.
Demecillo has lost three of his last six fights heading into the bout.
“He’s a typical Filipino who likes to come forward and has lots of power. I’m excited for this as it is a step up in class and these are the fights I want to be involved in,” Doheny says.
For Altamura, Friday night is just another piece of a larger puzzle.
“The goal is essentially to keep marching on that pathway to a world title. Short term, coming out of this weekend, my goal is to secure him a solid deal with a UK-based promoter and eye a homecoming fight in Ireland.”