TJ Doheny [22(16)-0] has put the man most want to avoid on the top of his wish list.
Having missed out on unifying the super-bantamweight division via majority decision defeat to Daniel Roman last year, Doheny is now chasing Roman’s recent conquerer; WBA and IBF king Murodjon Akhmadaliev.
The Uzbek is deemed one of those ‘better off without him’ fighters, but ‘The Power’ isn’t one for ducking a challenge.
The Portlaoise fighter proved as much when he quickly set about securing a unification clash with American Roman when he could have got away with a couple of routine defences of his then IBF world title.
Now seen as the fighter who claimed World and Olympic honours as an amateur has the trinkets, he is the man the Australian based, Boston trained Irish fighter wants.
WBC titlist Rey Vargas would also be an option, but Doheny seems to be taking the two belts are better than one approach.
Speaking ahead of his clash with Ionut Baluta on the Rotunda Rumble3 bill at Caesars Palace Bluewaters, Dubai on March 6 Doheny said:
“Akhmadaliev is the current unified world champion so yes, he is my No. 1 target right now. I only narrowly missed out in my attempt to unify the division so it remains my ultimate goal.
“Akhmadaliev and I fight under the same umbrella so that fight can be made easily. It would be a really fan-friendly fight – an absolute war. Two power-punching southpaws having an absolute shoot-out for the unified championship of the world. It’s a mouth-watering match-up.”
Doheny told Irish-boxing.com he was ‘gutted’ to see Akhmadaliev defeat his old foe Roman and that he still fancies a return with his fellow Matchroom fighter.
He points out avenging that loss would be sweeter if he was to do so as a world champion.
“The ideal scenario would be for me to regain my status as a world champion and then avenge the only loss of my career to date, which came against Roman. With that in mind, I’ll stay at super-bantamweight for now because I’m very well positioned with all the governing bodies so another world title shot is just around the corner.
“There are lots of great fighters out there who I’d love to share a ring but the man on my mind right now is the unified champion Akhmadaliev.”
Doheny vs. Baluta is part of an eagerly-anticipated fight night in Dubai, where undefeated Australian Mateo Tapia (11-0, 6 KOs) faces a stern test in Dublin’s Steve Collins Jr (14-3-1, 4 KOs) and world-ranked locally-based super-flyweight Aliu Bamidele Lasisi defends his WBC International crown against Norbelto Jimenez.
On the undercard, unbeaten Kazakhs Nurtas Azhbenov, India’s Faizan Anwar and Lalrinsanga Tlau, Dubai’s very own Sultan Al Nuaimi and Irishman Rohan Date will all bid to snatch the spotlight.