Tuesday, December 05, 2023  |


Naoya Inoue sparring partner Japhethlee Llamido looks for statement win vs. TJ Doheny

TJ Doheny (L) and Japhethlee Llamido. Photo by Joe Koizumi
Fighters Network

Japhethlee Llamido could put the junior featherweight division on notice with one statement victory against former world titleholder TJ Doheny.

Llamido, who has previously fought at featherweight, will face Doheny in a compelling junior featherweight fight on Tuesday at the famed Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan. The 10-round bout, with a regional 122-pound title belt at stake, will headline a card promoted by Hideyuki Ohashi, the promoter of pound-for-pound star Naoya Inoue.

The 23-year-old Llamido (11-0, 4 knockouts), who is originally from Long Beach, California and currently lives and trains in Yokohama, Japan, last fought on April 15, defeating former world titleholder Ryosuke Iwasa by unanimous decision.

Prior to the Iwasa win, Llamido mostly fought in Southern California on fight cards promoted by Golden Boy or Thompson Boxing. Llamido has also sparred against top fighters in Southern California, including WBO junior bantamweight titleholder Junto Nakatani.

Llamido knew how to use his height and reach effectively during a U.S. sparring session with Naoya Inoue in September 2022. Photo by Masa Ueda

Recently, after moving to Yokohama, Llamido sparred with Inoue to help prepare the former undisputed bantamweight champ to challenge then-unified 122-pound titleholder Stephen Fulton.

Doheny (24-4, 18 KOs) will be a significant step up in opposition for Llamido. The 36-year-old was the IBF junior featherweight titleholder before losing the title to Danny Roman in April 2019. Doheny, who is originally from Portlaois, Ireland and now resides in Bondi Junction, Australia, recently lost to unbeaten San Goodman, but stopped once-beaten Kazuki Nakajima in his last fight on June 29.

Despite Doheny’s experience and pedigree, Nomaan Ali, who manages Llamido, is confident the young prospect could become a contender at 122 pounds with a solid win over Doheny.

“Llamido is an exceptional talent with an impressive amateur background who can fight both orthodox and southpaw,” Ali told The Ring. “He has just beaten a former world champion in Iwasa and now goes on to fight another former world champion in TJ Doheny. Not many are doing what he is doing at just 23 years old.

“When he gets past TJ (and we have every faith that he will), the plan is to push on to get a top-five rating and announce him to the boxing world. Llamido has sparred the likes of Inoue, (Vasiliy) Lomachenko, Michael Conlan, Leo Santa Cruz, and more and is only just getting started.”

Llamido hopes the amount of sparring, particularly with Inoue, will improve his skill-set and make him a better overall fighter.

“A win over TJ Doheny would be great for my career and have me enter the world ratings,” he said. “I was part of Inoue’s camp for Fulton and it went great. I have sparred Inoue many times and I give him my best work and he gives me his best work, so the goal is to just get better.”

Doheny has split his last six fights since the loss to Roman.

Also on the card, Toshiki Shimomachi (17-1-2, 11 KOs) of Osaka, Japan will square off against Toshiya Ishii (6-1-1, 4 KOs) of Fujimino, Japan in a 10-round bout.


Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]