Ireland's TJ Doheny eyes second belt after retaining IBF World super-bantamweight title
Portlaoise native TJ Doheny has successfully defended his IBF World super-bantamweight title. He stopped Japanese opponent Ryohei Takahashi in the 11th round in the Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden in the early hours of this morning.
Now based in Australia, Doheny immediately set his sights on unifying the belts against the WBA title holder Daniel Roman. The American joined the Irishman in the ring after his victory to congratulate him. Both fighters are promoted by Eddie Hearn's Matchroom organisation and the unification contest is likely to take place in early summer.
"That's the fight I want next; that's what we are all in it for. Danny Roman is a great fighter. He's got the WBA (belt), I have got the IBF (belt). Let's get it on Eddie (Hearn). You got the orders from the fighters. Let's make it happen – let's dance," said the unbeaten 32-year old.
Roman is rated as the number one super-bantamweight in the world by BoxRec while Doheny is ranked ninth.
This fight against a worthy, but limited opponent was essentially a warm-up contest to give Doheny an opportunity to shake off the cobwebs. He hadn't fought since his sensational victory in Tokyo against the then defending title holder Ryosuke Iwasa last August.
Iwasa's countryman Takahashi wasn't in the same class, though he had won 16 of his previous 20 fights and suffered only one career loss. He took the fight against Doheny at short notice and was always struggling against the southpaw.
They bumped heads as early as the second round. Both fighters suffered facial cuts but Doheny made light of the injury afterwards.
"It's not a TJ Doheny fight without a cut. That's only a scratch compared to the one I picked up in my world title fight. Every time I come out with scratches and bruises but that's because I gave it all in this ring. But I always want to give the fans a show and that's exactly what I tried to do tonight."
Doheny, who boxes under the banner 'The Power', had his opponent on the canvas in the third round after he unleashed a barrage of left hooks which found their target. But Takahashi was quickly on his feet and comfortably survived the rest of the stanza.
By the half way point Doheny was in control as his superior class shone through. Takahashi finally had his joy in the eighth round, landing two decent shots to Doheny's midriff which was probably enough to give him the round.
But the champion reasserted his dominance during the remainder of the contest before referee Michael Ortega stepped in to stop it in the penultimate 11th round just as Doheny seemed poised to inflict a barrage of punches on his opponent.
Now unbeaten in his 21 professional contests, Doheny revealed he had been suffering from a thumb injury in the run-up to the contest.
"I am shaking off a bit of rust, coming off a thumb injury. I was about half a second too slow on my counter punching but the main thing is I came here to defend my title for the first time and that's exactly what I did. Every time I hit him I felt I was hurting him. The main thing is we got the stoppage in the end and we are moving on now."
So after a long but financially unrewarding career, Doheny looks poised to finally hit the jackpot in 2019 and his reunification fight against Roman will be comfortably the most financially rewarding of his career.