Thursday, August 16, 2018

Doheny Dethrones Iwasa To Become IBF Jr. Featherweight World Champion

Undefeated International Boxing Federation (IBF) number one Jr. Featherweight contender TJ Doheny scored a hard-fought twelve round unanimous decision over IBF Jr. Featherweight world champion Ryosuke Iwasa on Thursday night at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan. A rarity in the sport of Boxing where two southpaws faced each other for a world championship, the bout was a tactical, but entertaining fight where both fighters had periods of effectiveness.

Doheny suffered cuts under both of his eyes in the first two rounds of the fight, but it was unclear to this observer as to whether the cuts were caused by punches or clashes of heads. This was due to Doheny’s shorter height as compared to the champion and his head movement as he came forward. Despite bleeding from both cuts throughout the fight, the challenger was consistently aggressive and brought the fight to Iwasa. Doheny had particular success in being able to land his left hand in variations throughout the bout.

This was a fight however, that was more dictated by moments in that there were several rounds where both fighters had success and this created a very difficult fight to score. The champion was most successful during periods where he was able to use his jab and near 5’8 height to keep Doheny at distance as well as having success of his own in landing his left hand and had periodic success landing punches to the challenger’s body. Iwasa was also successful in almost completely nullifying Doheny’s offense whenever the 5’5 ½ challenger would get in close.

Although the physics of this fight as well as certain periods throughout the bout would indicate and give the impression that the advantage was in Iwasa’s favor, Doheny’s aggression, ability to land his left hand consistently with hooks and overhands as well as his ability to make the champion miss with his head movement in addition to finding a home for his own jab throughout became the story of the fight in my eyes. The challenge as I have said frequently over the years with regard to close fights where both fighters have success in the same rounds is to distinguish which fighter is able to make the most of their periods of success as compared to their opponent that more often than not will determine who will get the upper hand in terms of the scoring of the fight.
While Iwasa was the more accurate fighter throughout the fight and controlled the combat in close, Doheny dictated the tempo and was simply the effective aggressor. If there is one criticism that some might point to about Doheny’s performance in this fight, it was his inability to let his hands go on the inside where it was theoretically to his advantage where Iwasa would be ineffective in using his longer reach. Despite this, Doheny was the fighter who more often than not forced the action and this in addition to the success he was able to have offensively throughout the fight  allowed him to earn the twelve round unanimous decision. Official scores were: 117-112, 116-112, and 115-113.

TJ Doheny advances to 20-0, with 14 Knockouts. Ryosuke Iwasa falls to 25-3, with 18 Knockouts.

Unofficially, I scored this bout seven rounds to five in favor of Doheny. Although there are those who tend to put an emphasis on statistics in an age of ever advancing technology as sort of a way to gage who is more effective in fights that are fought like this, it is hard to argue if one views this fight objectively the subtle differences between the two fighters in a closely fought battle. From my perspective, Doheny’s success in not only landing his left hand, but landing it cleanly throughout as well as his defensive prowess as the fight progressed is what I based my score on in addition to being the effective aggressor.

In other bouts:

Featherweight Ryota Tsuchiya successfully made his professional debut by scoring a four round split decision over Takahiro Nakatsuka, who was also making his professional debut. Official scores: 39-37, (Two scorecards, one in favor of each fighter) and 39-38. Ryota Tsuchiya advances to 1-0, with 0 Knockouts. Takahiro Nakatsuka falls to 0-1, with 0 Knockouts.

In the Jr. Bantamweight division Takuya Matsunaga successfully made his professional debut with a four round unanimous decision over the also debuting Soma Ikeda. Official scores: 40-36, 39-37, and 39-38 all in favor of Matsunaga. Takuya Matsunaga advances to 1-0, with 0 Knockouts. Soma Ikeda falls to 0-1, with 0 Knockouts.

In the Flyweight division veteran Daisuke Sudo scored a six round unanimous decision over Jun Ishimoto. Official scores: 59-55, (On two scorecards) and 58-56 all for Sudo. Daisuke Sudo advances to 5-6-3, with 0 Knockouts. Jun Ishimoto falls to 5-6-1, with 3 Knockouts.

In the Lightweight division undefeated prospect Shawn Oda continued his winning ways with a third round stoppage of Masashi Wakita. Official time of the stoppage was: 1:31 of round three. Shawn Oda advances to 9-0, with 8 Knockouts. Masashi Wakita falls to 8-8-2, with 3 Knockouts.

Former Oriental Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) Flyweight champion Koki Eto, now competing as a Jr. Bantamweight scored a sixth round knockout over veteran Delfin de Asis. Official time of the stoppage was 1:14 of round six.

It will be interesting to see what both TJ Doheny and Ryosuke Iwasa do coming out of what was a highly competitive world championship fight in the 122lb. Jr. Featherweight division. While it is too soon to speculate on a potential rematch between the two, this observer feels a second encounter is warranted due to the close nature of the fight they put forth. Sometimes when there is such a close fight and opinion might differ as to the outcome, the only logical answer to appease critics, fans, and even the fighters themselves is to do it again.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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