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Dublin: 8°C Thursday 28 January 2021

Portlaoise's TJ Doheny defends world title with 11th-round stoppage at Madison Square Garden

‘The Power’ dropped Ryohei Takahashi and forced the referee’s hand in the 11th as he made the first defence of his IBF crown.

Doheny was greeted in the ring post-fight by WBA champion Daniel Roman, with whom he agreed to a world-title unification clash later this year.
Doheny was greeted in the ring post-fight by WBA champion Daniel Roman, with whom he agreed to a world-title unification clash later this year.
Image: Joel Plummer

TJ DOHENY RETAINED his IBF World super-bantamweight title on Friday night with an 11th-round stoppage of Japanese challenger Ryohei Takahashi in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.

The Portlaoise southpaw, making the first defence of the strap he ripped from Ryosuke Iwasa in Tokyo last summer, outclassed Takahashi for large spells and despite getting dragged into a back-and-forth battle late on, forced referee Michael Ortega’s hand as he put his foot down in the penultimate verse.

The third man’s decision to intervene seemed a touch premature but Doheny was by far the superior competitor in every department and had marched into a massive lead on the cards.

Indeed, almost from the first bell, it was laid plain that there could likely be only one winner.

Both fighters went looking for each other from the off but it was Doheny — in his first outing under Eddie Hearn and Matchroom’s promotional banner — who gained the ascendancy after 30-or-so seconds of arm-chancery, seizing centre-ring and rhythmically firing off his left hand from the southpaw stance.

‘The Power’ from Portlaoise let fly towards both body and head, finding the mark consistently and hurting Takahashi to the solar plexus in a one-sided opener.

Boxing 2019 - TJ Doheny Defeats Ryohei Takahashi by 11th Round TKO Doheny lands a left uppercut. Source: Joel Plummer

They bumped bonces seconds into the sophomore stanza, both men suffering cuts towards the bridge of their noses. Takahashi emerged from the accidental clash slightly the worse for wear, but neither blemish was likely to threaten the contest.

Doheny stepped on the gas in the third, teeing up the Japanese challenger with a throwaway left to the body before teeing off with a right cross. Under fire, Takahashi attempted to grab hold of the Irishman only for Doheny to unleash a swift series of left hooks which sent the younger man crashing to the canvas.

Takahashi rose to his feet with a nod of acknowledgement and survived the round without taking too much in the way of further punishment.

The more Doheny got to grips with Takahashi’s unorthodox approach over the first half of the contest, the more he oozed class. Carrying with him to the ring a greater pedigree as well as a world title strap, the Leinster man pivoted and pot-shotted his way to a big lead through six.

Takahashi marauded forward in the seventh and was again picked off at will, but when he poured it on a round later Doheny appeared to wilt slightly. The challenger landed two shots to his midriff and grinned at Doheny through his gumshield, jostling and forcing his way to what was surely a first 10-9 success.

Doheny steadied the ship over the following six minutes and wound up closing the show in the 11th.

Boxing 2019 - TJ Doheny Defeats Ryohei Takahashi by 11th Round TKO The game Takahashi gave as good as he got and more in the eighth. Source: Joel Plummer

Referee Michael Ortega hastily pulled Takahashi out of dodge with Doheny — his tail back up at this stage — on the precipice of unleashing a barrage. Takahashi himself scarcely complained, slowly retreating to his corner as Doheny made a B-line for his own.

Doheny was probably robbed of a more aesthetically pleasing finish, but most importantly dusted off the cobwebs having not tread the canvas since he relieved the heavily fancied Iwasa of his title in the Japanese capital last August.

He was later congratulated in the ring by rival Danny Roman [26-2-1, 10KOs], the WBA world champion in his division, with whom he subsequently verbally agreed to a unification bout later this year.

In victory, the Sydney-based Doheny improves to 21-0, 15KOs and opens the door to bigger nights in a potentially momentous year for his globetrotting career.

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