Owney Geoghegan was born in Ireland in 1840. After immigrating to the United States at the age of nine, he cultivated his talent as a lightweight, bare knuckle boxer. He fought his first prize fight against Jim McGann in 1860. In 1861, with the United States Lightweight Championship vacant, Geoghegan faced Eddie Touley in hopes of filling the title. Geoghegan defeated Touley in 45 rounds to claim the championship.
Geoghegan successfully defended his title until 1863, when he faced Con Orem. Geoghegan won the match due to an illegal move from his opponent; however, he relinquished his claim to the title and retired from boxing altogether. Following his fighting career, Geoghegan opened up various gambling and sporting houses. He died a wealthy man in 1885.