Former IBF super bantamweight champion TJ ‘The Power’ Doheny 22-2 (16) has expressed his disappointment at losing to Romanian spoiler Ionut ‘Il Capo’ Baluta 13-2 (2) at Caesars Palace in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on Friday night.
The 33-year-old Australian-based Irish southpaw got off to a slow start and was deducted a point late in the contest, eventually losing an eight-round decision by scores of 77-74 and 78-74 twice.
Baluta, 26, was coming off a 10-round split decision victory over Kyle Williams in the UK last October.
“I don’t know what to say myself. I’m absolutely devastated,” Doheny said to Irish-Boxing.com.
“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.”
Doheny engaged in one of the fights of the year in 2019 when he engaged in a thrilling 12-round brawl with WBA champion Danny Roman in a unification bout last April.
Roman lost his IBF and WBA belts to Murodjan Akmadaliev in January and Doheny was hoping to secure a world title shot against the hard-hitting Uzbek southpaw. Those plans are now on hold.
“I don’t know what to say — I’m absolutely devastated. I had so many big plans for this year and now, with this result, it sets me back. I just don’t know what to say,” Doheny added.
Doheny said that despite Baluta’s negative style, he believed he did enough to win the bout.
“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,” he said.
“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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