By Anthony Cocks
World title challenger TJ “The Power” Doheny 19-0 (14) has revealed that moving to Australia was the catalyst that helped him turn his life around.
The 31-year-old Irish-born southpaw now calls Sydney’s Bondi Junction home, where he lives with his wife and young children.
“I was a bit of a brat when I was back home but being here changed me,” Doheny said in an interview with the Sunday Times.
“It opened my eyes and broadened my mind to the opportunities if I keep my head down and work hard.
“Looking back at my carry-on in Ireland and looking forward and thinking how much things have changed, did I want to fall into old habits or become someone I wanted to be?
“I knew I could make something of myself.”
Something of an underachiever as an amateur, Doheny drifted away from boxing for a time before moving to Sydney a decade ago to work as a scaffolder and take a 12-month sabbatical from the sport.
Doheny would eventual have a handful of amateur fights in his new country but, finding the quality of competition lacking, his thoughts turned to the professional game.
“I didn’t fulfil my potential [as an amateur],” admitted Doheny, who once bested two-weight world champion Carl Frampton in the singlets.
“I was a bit of a livewire. And that was a huge part of my thinking going professional, I don’t want to have regrets when I hang up the gloves. I just want to push on.”
Doheny started training with Tony Del Vecchio at the Bondi Boxing Club, turned pro and had his first 14 bouts in adopted country before hooking up with Irish-American promotional outfit Murphy’s Boxing.
As a mark of his newfound professionalism, the Sydneysider now conducts his training camps in Boston, Massachusetts, a full 10 weeks away from the distractions of family, friends and a comfortable home life. It’s a monastic lifestyle at times but one that suit him.
“People give me stick because all I do is train and go back to the room. But if I go out gallivanting I tend to lose focus, I like staying in the zone,” said Doheny, who is trained by Hector Bermudez in the USA.
“It benefits me coming out here [in Boston]. It’s tough on my family and all but we know what’s at the end of the tunnel.
“We’re sacrificing now for what’s to come.”
Doheny is hoping that all of the sacrifices and time away from his young family will pay dividends this Thursday night when challenges IBF super bantamweight champion Ryosuke Iwasa 25-2 (16) at Tokyo’s famed Korakuen Hall.
The 28-year-old Japanese southpaw has a pair of defeats on his ledger at the hands of fellow lefthanders Lee Haskins and Shinsuke Yamanaka – both future world titleholders.
Despite giving away height and reach, Team Doheny believe that his left-handed stance will provide a definite advantage on the night.
“I just have this air of confidence about me right now. I’m so relaxed and taking it all in my stride,” Doheny posted on social media after arriving in Tokyo on Friday.
“I truly believe this is where I belong. I’ll be world champion one week from today.”