The Irish Eye: August
August brought the fulfilment of life-long dreams for TJ Doheny and Carl Frampton. Kane Clarke rounds up all the action from Ireland last month...
On 16 August at the Korakuen Hall, Japan, Portlaois super-bantamweight - TJ Doheny travelled into enemy territory and dethroned Japanese star Ryosuke Iwasa after 12 action-packed rounds to realise a life-long dream and become the new IBF super-bantamweight champion.
'The Power' had manoeuvred his way into the mandatory challenger position for the belt after building up an impressive unbeaten record of 19(14)-0, with eight stoppages in his last nine bouts - seven of those coming within six rounds.
The-28-year-old Iwasa was making the second defence of his title which he captured with a sixth-round stoppage of former champ Yukinori Oguni in September last year, and then successfully defended in a one-sided beatdown of Ernesto Saulong in March this year.
The champ entered the bout as the betting favourite, and most likely nicked a tentative opening round as the battle of the southpaws commenced, but Doheny came powering back to win the second and the third, and possibly just edged the fourth too. The 31-year-old was controlling the distance beautifully with some great movement and landing frequently with the left hand upstairs and right jabs to the body.
Iwasa battled back in a close fifth to most likely nick the round before Doheny upped the pace in the sixth and piled on the pressure, landing big shots through well-timed flurried combinations. He continued this trend through the seventh, hurting Iwasa on occasions with sharp left hands over his opponent's jab.
The pace eased up slightly in the eighth as Iwasa looked to slow the challenger down with body shots, but 'The Power' was landing the classier and cleaner shots, and looked the fresher of the two as the bell went to end the round.
Doheny picked up where he left off in the previous round when he started the ninth, landing a perfectly timed left-hook on the chin of Iwasa as the champion tried to set up a right hook of his own - perhaps the best shot of the fight thus far.
Iwasa must surely have felt the fight slipping away from him through round nine - and came out for the tenth with a little more conviction in his work, landing cleaner shots to the body an working better on the inside - something Doheny had been able to nullify up to this point in the fight.
As the bout entered the championship rounds both combatants emptied their tanks and went to war. The eleventh was non-stop action from the opening bell with both fighters going to toe-to-toe for much of the round. With both men clearly tiring in the last, instinct took over and the two warriors slugged it out until the final bell which brought an end to an exciting battle.
The scorecards were 116-112, 117-112, 115-113, all in favour of our new world champion Doheny, who moved his unbeaten record to 20(14)-0 after becoming only the second Irishman to win a world title in Japan, following Wayne McCullough's heroics in 1995.
From one life-long dream realised - to another, on 18 August, former IBF super-bantamweight champion - and amateur rival of Doheny - Carl 'The Jackal' Frampton, finally made his long-awaited ring walk at the home of his beloved Northern Ireland national football team - Windsor Park.
Around 24,000 noisy 'Jackalites' packed out the Belfast stadium to watch their local hero defend his interim WBO featherweight world title with a ninth-round TKO of Australia's Luke Jackson in the rain-soaked Titanic City.
The 31-year-old Frampton [26(15)-0] dominated proceedings right from the off against the previously undefeated 'Action' Jackson [now 16(7)-1(1)], winning the early rounds clearly, before upping the pace and pressure through the middle rounds, eventually downing the challenger with a sickening body shot in the eighth The tough Aussie surprisingly managed to rise from this blow before his corner threw in the towel in the ninth.
During Frampton's post-fight interview with BT Sport, promotional stablemate and IBF featherweight champion Josh Warrington entered the ring, leading to promoter Frank Warren announcing that the much talked about fight between the pair was next for the well-supported fighters, and that it would be broadcast on BT Sport PPV. As yet, however, there has been no confirmation of a date or venue for this event.
On the undercard, former Irish champion and lineal heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury continued his come back with a ten-round shut-out points victory over German-based Italian Francesco Pianeta [35(21)-5(3)-1] to lift his unbeaten professional record to 27(19)-0, and set-up a mouth-watering world title clash with WBC champion Deontay Wilder [40(39)-0], who was sat ringside to watch his future foe go through the gears.
Also on the card, Belfast flyweight Paddy Barnes dared to be great in just his sixth professional bout and challenged WBC world champion Cristofer Rosales. After a few tight opening rounds, Barnes eventually succumbed to defeat via a vicious right hand to the body that sent the triple Olympian crashing to the canvas in pain - unable to beat the count.
There was an All-Irish clash on the card as Belfast's Steven Ward outpointed Dubliner Steve Collins Jr over eight rounds to claim the vacant light-heavyweight BUI Celtic title and improve his record to 8(3)-0. Collins Jr drops to 12(4)-2(0)-1.
Dublin middleweight Luke Keeler moved to 15(5)-2(1)-1 with a 79-73 eight-round points victory over England's Dwain Grant who dropped to 2(0)-5(1)-1.
Big-punching Belfast welterweight Lewis Crocker went the six-round distance for the first time in his career as he outpointed the ultra-durable William Warburton - 60-54 - to move to 7(6)-0, whilst the journeyman fell to 26(5)-139(2)-10.
Belfast super featherweight Marco McCullough [20(11)-4(3)] tuned up for his October 5 bout with Dubin's Declan Geraghty with a six-round points victory over England's Jordan Ellison [10(1)-16(4)].
Coalisland middleweight Conrad Cummings looked impressive as he outpointed Englishman Nicky Jenman over six-rounds to improve to 14(6)-2-1.
There were also a couple of professional debuts for two of Ireland's most decorated amateurs in Ballymena's Steven Donnelly and Belfast's Sean McComb. Rio Olympian Donnelly showcased his impressive skillset over four rounds as he outpointed danger journeyman Kevin McCauley [15(0)-172(12)-12]. Light welterweight ''The Public Nuisance' McComb got his career of to a perfect start with a fourth-round stoppage of Reynaldo Mora [7(4)-39(10)-1] to move to 1(1)-0.
On 4 August at the Ice Arena, Cardiff, Wales, Jobstown bantamweight Dylan McDonagh gave a great account of himself before narrowly losing on points to 2010 Commonwealth games gold medallist Sean McGoldrick, after eight rounds of action that saw the Irishman push the undefeated Matchroom prospect all the way before eventually going down 78-76 on referee Reece Carter's scorecard.
On 11 August, Monaghan welterweight, Aaron McKenna upped his professional record to 5(3)-0 with a four-round points victory over Rolando Mendivil [10(3)-5(3)], at The Avalon, Hollywood.
On 24 August at the Emirates Arena, Glasgow, Irishman 'Super' Darragh Foley fought outside his new home of Australia for the first time against Wales' Chris Jenkins, but had to settle for a technical draw as the bout was stopped by the doctor due to cuts picked up by the Welshman in rounds two and three.
On the undercard, Dublin lightweight Stephen 'The Rock' Ormond moved back into the world rankings with a hard-fought but well-earned ten-round points victory over George Ashie [28(20)-5(0)-1] to improve to 26(13)-5(1), and 2016 Rio Olympian David Oliver Joyce continued his unbeaten start to the pro ranks with a sixth-round stoppage of Arturo Lopez [5(0)-5(3)-3], to improve his record to 8(7)-0.