All-Ireland unification fight on the cards for new champ Doheny as big win opens door for Burnett bout
Japan win will open up some lucrative doors for Doheny
Ireland's latest world champion, TJ Doheny, could now be in line to face Belfast's Ryan Burnett, the WBA super-bantam champion, in an all-Ireland duel following the Portlaoise native's heroics in Tokyo yesterday.
Doheny - based in Australia for the last decade - had to dig deep to outpoint local favourite and defending champion Ryosuke Iwasa and claim the IBF world super bantamweight title.
The 31-year-old caused a big upset by ending the reign of the Japanese fighter in front of his partisan home fans in the Korakuen Hall, where all but three of Iwasa's 28 professional fights have been staged.
Doheny sustained a cut under his right eye in the first round, but he recovered admirably and shaded the contest until round nine when Iwasa took over and looked to have done enough to win the championship rounds.
While Doheny seemed to be tiring, he summoned enough reserves of strength to finish the fight well and won round 12.
While most ringside observers, including the commentators on ESPN, suggested that Iwasa had done enough to keep the title, the judges thought otherwise.
Indeed, the Laois man won on a unanimous decision and by a comfortable margin - 115-113, 116-112 and 117-112.
The result was greeted mostly in shocked silence, but it mattered little to Doheny who takes the belt which Carl Frampton held between 2014 and 2016. The pair fought during their amateur days and Doheny got the decision.
The victory brings Doheny’s pro record to 20-0 with 14 of his victories coming via knock-out.
Needless to say, however, this is the most significant win of his career and it gives him an opportunity to raise his profile and earn some lucrative purses.
A decade ago he lost out on a chance to challenge for a place on the Irish boxing team for the Beijing Olympics when he lost to John Joe Nevin.
Subsequently, he emigrated to Sydney and after a slow start he built a creditable professional career Down Under.
He becomes the 21st Irish boxer to win a world professional title and is the first since the legendary Jimmy McLarnin to secure a world belt having never fought professionally in his native country.
CompuBox had Doheny landing 159 of 604 punches, and 97 of 362 power shots, compared to 143 of 485 for Iwasa, including 105 of 281 power shots.
The three ringside judges were from Japan, USA and Australia, with the Asian official marking the 12-rounder 115-113 to the Leinster lefty in his 20th outing.
Doheny is only the second fighter from Ireland or the UK to go to Japan and win a world title.
Barcelona Olympic silver medallist Wayne McCullough was the first to do it when he secured the WBC bantamweight belt in 1995.
Ireland now has three current world champions in Katie Taylor, Ryan Burnett and Doheny, who received his initial boxing tuition from the former president of the IABA Pat Ryan, in Portlaoise BC.
“This win is the beginning of a new era and will open many doors. Behind one of those doors is the talented Ryan Burnett. TJ will know his next move after the dust settles,” said Ryan.