Doheny claims world title
IBF super bantamweight win in Tokyo for Portlaoise boxer
Portlaoise native TJ Doheny created boxing history in Tokyo yesterday by winning the IBF world super bantamweight title, securing a sensational victory over defending champion Ryosuke Iwasa.
The 31 year old who has been based in Australia for the last decade caused a big upset by ending the reign of the Japanese fighter in front of his own fans in the Korakuen Hall, where all but three of Iwasa's 28 professional fights have been staged.
Doheny sustained a cut under his eye in the first round but he recovered admirably and shaded the contest until round 9 when Iwasa took over and looked to have done enough to win the championship rounds.
Though Doheny looked to be tiring, he summoned enough reserves of strength to finish the fight well and won round 12. While most ring-side 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 scale of what Doheny has achieved cannot be overstated. He is only the second fighter from either Ireland or the UK to go to Japan and win a World title.
Barcelona Olympic silver medallist Wayne McCullough had been the only boxer to win a World title in Japan when he secured the WBC bantamweight belt in 1995.
Interestingly Iwasa's only two previous defeats had also come against southpaws and before the fight he admitted that taking on southpaws was his Achilles heel. His worst fears were realised in only the second defence of his title.
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 gives him an opportunity to raise his profile and earn some lucrative purses before hanging up his gloves.
A decade ago he lost out on a chance of 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 built a credible professional career down under.
He becomes the 21st Irish boxer to win a World professional title and the first since the legendary Jimmy McLarnin to secure a world belt having never fought professionally in his native country.
Ireland now has three current World boxing champions Katie Taylor, Ryan Burnett and TJ Doheny, who was received his initial boxing tuition from the former President of the IABA Pat Ryan in Portlaoise Boxing club.