By Nick Skok
TJ Doheny went into the famed Korakuen Hall in Tokyo and dethroned Ryosuke Iwasa to claim the super bantamweight title nearly two weeks ago. Now as the dust settles and the new champion recovers in Bali with his family beside him, it’s almost time to get back to work.
The title of champion comes with a massive target on his back and it wasn’t even two minutes after he was crowned when Tomoki Kameda entered the ring to aggressively make his intentions known and demanding a fight with the new champ. TJ wasn’t having any of it telling Kameda “Get out of here!” and pushing him against the ropes before the two could be separated. TJ told media in attendance that “He’s lucky he didn’t get a smack.”
So, is a Kameda fight something that interests TJ? “If the money’s right.” said his manager Mike Altamura of MTK. The seemingly never ending travel schedule of Altamura led him to Glendale this past weekend to support his other super bantamweight champion, Isaac Dogboe, and that’s where I caught up with him. “Let them send the contract.”
A return to Japan during the busy fight week prior to New Years Eve could make the most financial sense. TJ made an impact on the local fans who were more antagonized than usual as a large contingent of Australian and Irish fans brought out their ire, along with their dissatisfaction in the result. Playing the role as the visiting heel ought to inspire more interest for TJ from those who wish on the revenge a Kameda victory could bring the Korakuen regulars.
Kameda is (35-2, 20 knockouts) on a four fight win streak and is currently ranked third by the IBF although nobody holds the second position while the first position was held by TJ. That spot could conceivably and will likely see Kameda take it over. Kameda is a former bantamweight champion and would offer TJ a stiff defense option, considering his experience and his unusually candid demeanor- at least amongst Japanese fighters.
New Years Eve is just four months away. The time seems appropriate as TJ suffered a fractured left-hand and two cuts during his championship winning performance. Unifications against Rey Vargas or Daniel Roman could also be in order down the line though the Kameda fight is seemingly the most likely and for now the most lucrative option.
“TJ fears nobody.” said Atamura. That’s good because with division red-hot right now and the charismatic brawler TJ Doheny taking over as the IBF boss, there’s fights to be made.
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