There were contrasting fortunes for Irish fighters in the Gulf this afternoon.
Three boxers from these shores were in action in the United Arab Emirates, with one stoppage win, one destructive loss, and one particularly shocking defeat.
Fighting at the swanky Caesar’s Palace in Dubai, live on ESPN+, Rohan Date posted a stoppage win but there was a disappointing defeat for Steve Collins Jr and, most shockingly, a points defeat for former world champ TJ Doheny.
Date scored an impressive finish to the body, but Collins found himself stopped inside a round on the Round 10 and MTK Global card before an out-of-sorts Doheny was on the wrong end of a points decision.
Castleknock super middleweight Collins was first up and suffered a hurtful defeat.
Collins was looking to bounce back following his BUI Celtic title loss to Padraig McCrory last Summer but was faced with one of Australia’s hottest prospects.
Tapia was riding high following a win over Renold Quinlan last time out to win the Aussie title and the 21-year-old entered as favourite here – a tag which he duly fulfilled with an explosive win.
It was a war from the opening bell with Collins charging at his young foe. Tapia though, held his nerve, picking some nice sharp counters and hurting the marauding Irishman. Collins continued to fight hard but was catching clean shots on the chin and, backed up to the ropes, took a volley of straight punches that sent him down and out.
MASTERFUL MATEO 💫
Cesar Mateo Tapia dominates with a first round KO win over Steve Collins Jr.
A late stoppage, but thankfully Collins is OK. ✅
— MTK Global 🌍 (@MTKGlobal) March 6, 2020
Collins now drops to 14(4)-4(2)-1 as this Dubai gamble failed to pay off but the big fight-hungry ‘Wolfhound’ will no doubt soon return to competitive domestic scraps.
The impressive Tapia improves to 12(7)-0.
Given the dreaded swing slot, Waterford welter Date was up straight after Collins and there was another stoppage – this time in favour of the Irishman.
Date was in against Rivo Kundimang and had the Indonesian southpaw’s gumshield punched out within seconds. The Deise man continued to lash in uppercuts but Kundimang managed to steady the ship and see out the round.
The Asian was hurt again at the start of the second by a huge right from Date but, to his credit, managed to stay on his feet after falling into the ropes and grew as the round progressed.
Date’s pressure continued into the third round and he made his breakthrough in the fourth, slashing in a right hand to the body and forcing Kundimang to raise his hand to signal the end of the fight
26-year-old Date improves to 12(9)-0-1 with the impressive win and, having been mandated to face Noely Murphy for the Irish title, new fight news is eagerly awaited
For Portlaoise super bantam Doheny, it was a matter of keeping busy as he chases unified IBF-WBA champion Murodjan Akmadaliev and WBC king Rey Vargas. Here he was faced with solid Spain-based Romanian Ionut Baluta and came acroppper, suffering a devastating points defeat.
Baluta had sprung a surprise win over England’s Kyle Williams in his last fight and gave as good as he got in the opener.
The aggression from the Romanian continued into the second – a second round he may have taken on the cards – as Doheny looked to grab a stranglehold in the fight.
Doheny began to come forward more in the third round but did still look somewhat sluggish.
Turning the screw as we approached halfway, Doheny’s bodywork was starting to pay dividends and Baluta was working hard to keep the pace.
In the groove, ‘The Power’ Doheny was stalking his unravelling Eastern European opponent in rounds five although Baluta rallied somewhat in the sixth.
Baluta continued to fight hard in the penultimate round but Doheny, while not firing on all cylinders, was in control, hurting his opponent again in the closing stages.
Into the final stanza, it was a scrappy affair, with Baluta both slipping to the canvas and losing his gumshield. Doheny looked for the big finish but it did not come – and there was drama when he was docked a point for tossing his opponent to the ground.
Going to the cards and, following a sluggish start and the deduction, there were an uncomfortable few seconds for Doheny and it turned out to be a devastating defeat for the former world champ.
The cards read 77-74 and 78-74 twice in favour of a delighted Baluta who improves to 13(2)-2(0).
Doheny falls to 22(16)-2(0) following the defeat, one of the biggest shocks in Irish boxing for a long time.