TJ Doheny has successfully defended his IBF super bantamweight title in New York in rather dominant fashion.
The Portlaoise southpaw put the red belt on the line for the first time tonight versus Japan’s Ryohei Takahashi at the famous Theater at Madison Square Garden
The DAZN and Sky Sports-broadcast fight, Doheny’s first ever to be shown live in his home country, saw ‘The Power’ score an eleventh-round stoppage.
The Irishman had Takahashi hurt and dropped early but his stubborn foe would hang in all the way until the penultimate round.
Doheny had defeated Japanese opposition to claim the title back in August, travelling to Tokyo to dethrone Ryosuke Iwasa at the famous Korakuen Hall via unanimous decision.
A return to Japan looked likely for Doheny, who had a slightly longer break from action due to a broken thumb suffered versus Iwasa, but a link-up with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Promotions and this Takahashi fight was confirmed last week.
While the fight news came as a surprise to most, it soon emerged that 28-year-old Takahashi had been in camp since early last month, training alongside WBO super featherweight champion Masayuki Ito.
Coming into the fight, the Yokohama brawler was ranked #10 in the world with the IBF and was in the midst of a five-fight win streak.
This ranking came courtesy of an away win in Thailand over Mike Tawatchi – who Doheny had previously beaten in a final eliminator – to claim the IBF Pan-Pacific ranking title.
Indeed, while the choice of opponent was lambasted by some, with heavily skewed odds being cited, Takahashi represented, on paper, the second-toughest opponent of Doheny’s career after Iwasa – and the highest-ranked available challenger.
However, the Sydney-based, Boston-trained, Laois fighter was in control for the vast majority of the contest and eventually forced a stoppage.
There was very little feeling out, with Takashi swinging wildly and missing right from the opening bell while Doheny drilled home heavy lefts to the body that seemed to bother the challenger.
The second round saw both suffer cuts from an accidental head clash, with both gashed on the bridge of the nose and bleeding quite profusely. The action continued regardless and Doheny continued to get the better of exchanges, picking Takahasi off with venom as the Asian marauded forward before upping the intensity in the final minute and hurting his foe to the body once again.
The breakthrough came for Doheny in the third stanza as he sent Takahashi down with a right cross followed by a succession of left hooks upstairs. The Far East fighter rose but looked ragged as the champion went in for the kill but the bell would come.
DOWN IN THE THIRD! @tjdoheny knocks down Takahashi
Live now on Sky Sports Arena! pic.twitter.com/gUxKxwKLx6
— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) January 19, 2019
The assault from 32-year-old Doheny resumed immediately in the fourth as he landed clean, accurate power punches as the beleagured Takahashi kept wading in wildly.
Boxing off the back foot, Doheny was picking his shots beautifully as the fight moved into the fifth, countering the insanely brave Takahashi at will and the writing seemed to be on the wall of the famous Felt Forum.
Takashi, though, was refusing to lie down and poured forward in the sixth while ‘The Power’, in complete control, continued to land snappy counters.
Entering the second half of the title fight, the dancing Doheny increased his focus on the body as he looked to force a stoppage of the proud challenger but there then threathened to be a momentum shift.
The ringside microphones seemingly picked up Doheny telling coach Hector Bermudez that he was feeling the pace – and Takahashi cut an invigorated figure in the eighth and landed some meaty bodyshots of his own. Doheny, though, responded grittily and dug in heavy shots from close range.
Sticking to his skills early in the ninth, Doheny regained control and would stagger Takahashi with a left hook.
Takahashi snuck home a few right hands early in the tenth but the session reverted to type soon after, with the skills and sharpness of Doheny winning out.
Going into the championship rounds, Doheny’s second wind arrived and he had his opponent hurt and somewhat deterred, forcing Takahashi back with short hooks and uppercuts. The midlander was well on top and, with Takahashi’s revival having been snuffed out, the referee would intervene and call a halt to the bout – perhaps prematurely but Takahashi would not argue the decision.
The stoppage win sees Doheny improve his undefeated record to 21(15)-0 while the immensely brave Takahasi drops to 16(6)-4(1)-1
With the first defence in the bag, it now looks like Doheny will move into an early unification with new Matchroom stablemate and WBA beltholder Danny Roman [26(10)-2(0)-1], who was ringside tonight, in the coming months.
Earlier on in the card, before the Sky Sports potion of the broadcast began, Amanda Serrano became a seven-weight world champion.
The Puerto Rican, a future opponent of Katie Taylor, scored a 37-second knockout of Austrian Eva Voraberger to claim the vacant WBO super flyweight title, marking a scarcely believeable 25-pound drop from her vacant WBO light welterweight title win over Yamila Reynoso just over four months ago.