Former IBF super bantamweight champion TJ ‘The Power’ Doheny 22-2 (16) suffered a shock loss to unheralded Romanian Ionut Baluta 13-2 (2) on points over eight rounds at Caesars Palace in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on Friday night.
Baluta, 26, frustrated Doheny in the early rounds, using his deft footwork and defensive tactics to avoid any real damage while racking up points of his own.
The 33-year-old Doheny, who was having his second fight since losing his world title in a unification bout against Danny Roman last year, started to find his rhythm in the middle rounds and came on down the stretch, but it was too little too late.
A point deduction for throwing Baluta to the canvas didn’t help Doheny’s cause, but in the end it was academic. The three judges scored the bout 77-74, 78-74 and 78-74, all for Baluta.
“I’m absolutely devastated,” Doheny said to The 42. “Look, I was just getting going. I’m a 12-round fighter. If that had have been a 12-round fight, I would have gotten him out of there in the next few rounds.
“I was just starting to find my rhythm, starting to get to him, you know? He knew it was an eight-round fight so he just tried to survive, hit, run, and it was just a nightmare of a night.
“The referee wasn’t allowing any inside work which is where I was having success. I got a little frustrated and I tossed him on the ground as you could see.
“The rounds were so close. I thought, honestly — every fighter says they thought they were winning. When I heard the scorecards, I thought the scores were too wide for me not to win. That’s what I was thinking. Then, when they called his name, I was just like, ‘Wow’. I dunno, it’s just one of those things.
“I was expecting to get eight rounds to set me up for the year, expecting to get some work.
“I can’t even call him a surprise package because I’m 10 times the fighter he is, but he just ran and spoiled and held, and it was one of those fights where the spoiler came out on top. And unfortunately, I had to be the one in there with him.
“I’m very, very, very disappointed. Honestly, I don’t know what to say, I’m so upset.”
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