Australia-based Irishman TJ Doheny continued staking his claim for a fight with Naoya Inoue with victory in the Tokyo Dome on Monday night.

The 37-year-old southpaw scored a fourth-round stoppage of Filipino Bryl Bayagos, who is now 7-1-1, in the show opener, which still took place in front of thousands of fans. 

Doheny was impressive, but that wasn’t the first time the Japanese audiences have seen Doheny in full flow. 

In fact, in Japan he has been called by some “The Japanese Assassin” based on his previous visits to the country.

Doheny’s manager, Mike Altamura, has been with Doheny since Doheny was only a handful of fights into his pro career. Doheny is now 26-4 (20 KOs), and the former IBF super bantamweight champion is hoping he might get the call for Inoue in September, with Australia’s Sam Goodman tackling the “Monster” in December.

“I was familiar with him for his first couple of fights because he was training with a friend of mine [Tony Del Vecchio] in Australia, but it was early on,” recalled Altamura.

“Obviously being an outstanding Irish fighter living in Perth, Australia, it’s not like you walk down the street and there’s any kind of fanfare, but he walks the streets of Tokyo and there’s people out there pointing, coming over for photos, wanting his autograph, saying, ‘Ah, TJ Doheny, TJ Doheny’, and it gives him a rise where he says, ‘You know what, this feels like home. This is the only place I’ve ever fought where I’ve felt completely at home.’

“He’s warmed to it because, especially the first time, nobody in Japan was expecting him to beat [Ryosuke] Iwasa [to win the IBF title]. Then he was considered to be a shot duck when he fought [Kazuki] Nakajima. He’s stopped him and then you’ve got to remember Japhethlee Llamido was Inoue’s sparring partner and from all understandings had performed exceptionally well [in sparring].

“He was an elite amateur, and TJ was supposed to be the first name on his [Llamido’s] record, obviously he [Llamido] beat Iwasa [in an eight-rounder] but it was a name to really cement him as a future star and future champion.”

Doheny upset matters again, so in Japan he is known as a problem. He outpointed Iwasa, then defeated 16-3-1 Ryohei Takahashi in New York, halted Nakajima in four and blasted out Llamido in the first round. 

“Maybe some people thought TJ could beat him with ring guile and ringcraft or whatever,” Altamura said of Doheny-Llamido. |No one was expecting a detonation in round one. I wasn’t expecting that! So, I don’t think anyone else was. We expected a proper fight, that TJ would have to work and break him down. 

“But because of the mythical proportions about him here [in Japan], he definitely embraces it.”

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