IBF super bantamweight champion TJ ‘The Power’ Doheny 20-0 (14) will get the chance to make a big impression on the US audience when he makes the maiden defence of the world title he won in Japan when he takes on fringe contender Ryohei Takahashi 16-3-1 (6) at the Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden, New York on Friday January 18.
The fight will feature on the undercard of WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade’s inaugural title defence against Artur Akavov.
Doheny, 32, surprised many when he wrested the IBF championship from reigning champion and fellow southpaw Ryosuke Iwassa 25-3 (16) at the famed Korakuen Hall in Tokyo last August.
“I am delighted to face Ryohei in my first defense,” said the Australian-based Irishman who resides in Sydney.
“I have massive respect for boxing in Japan having won my title there, and I know how motivated he will be in his first world title fight, just as I was in Tokyo.
“But I have prepared brilliantly for this fight and this is my time to shine. I know he wants to rip the title from me, but this is my first big night under the spotlight and I intend to shine.”
The 28-year-old Takahashi is something of a dark horse. He was decisioned over 10-rounds by world-rated super flyweight Andrew ‘The Monster’ Moloney 18-0 (11) in what was the undefeated Australian’s sixth pro bout in early 2016 but has bounced back to compile an 8-1 (5) record since including five straight victories.
In June last year Takahashi won a 12-round unanimous decision over Thai veteran Pipat Chaiporn 45-12-2 (28) – alias Mike Tawatchai – who Doheny defeated by split decision in December 2017 to help secure his world title shot against Iwassa, 29, who was making his second world title defence.
Takahashi says he is going to grab the opportunity with both hands.
“It is really an honour to fight a world title match in this big event,” said Takahashi, the IBF number 10 contender. “I’ll show everyone a great fight and rise up as a champion. I will make it happen.”
Doheny, who recently signed with promotional powerhouse Matchroom Boxing USA, plans to unify the 122-pound division later this year with WBA boss Daniel Roman 26-2-1 (10) firmly in his sights.