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Isaac Dogboe: Barking up the wrong tree

After back-to-back defeats against Emanuel Navarrete over the past six months, it’s back to the drawing board for Isaac Dogboe.

Mikey Williams/Top Rank
Lewis Watson is a sports writer from London, UK, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has been a contributor at Bad Left Hook since 2018.

Repeat or revenge: a comprehensive answer was delivered in Tuscon on Saturday night, as Emanuel Navarrete retained his WBO super-bantamweight strap against former title-holder Isaac “Royal Storm” Dogboe.

It was “repeat” in more than just the result. The second installment of their rivalry at 122 pounds played out in similar fashion to the first; Navarrate’s reach and physical advantages negated anything Dogboe could throw the way of “Vaquero,” with the champion never looking troubled by the limited flurries of success that the Ghanaian-Brit forged.

Navarrete was clearly thankful for the opportunity thrown his way by Dogboe, and was impressed by the heart shown over both fights.

“It really surprised me that he took so many hard shots, but at the same time, he continued to throw strong punches,” Navarrete stated after retaining his strap. “I want to thank Dogboe because he gave me the opportunity to become a world champion, and now in this second fight, he gave me the opportunity to demonstrate that my first triumph wasn’t by accident and that there is a reason why I have the title.

“And to all the fighters at 122 pounds, I tell them that if they want my title, then they can come and try and take it.”

For Dogboe, the future is less clear. Stories of struggles in making the weight frequently surface following defeats in the lower weights, with Dogboe following suit, alluding to a move up to featherweight.

“Making super bantamweight is getting too difficult. My next fight, I will be moving up to [featherweight]. I will be much more comfortable there. All the credit to Navarrete. I thank him for giving me the opportunity to regain my title. It just didn’t go my way tonight. I will be back at featherweight in a big way.”

With changes afoot in the career of Dogboe, considerations over his weight and coaching team will be scrutinised over the coming months. In hindsight, this rematch was only worth taking for Dogboe if he, and his team, were comfortable and committed to making the necessary changes to alter the pattern of the first fight.

In predicting the outcome of the rematch last week, I claimed the following: “If Dogboe continues with his come-forward, straight-line pressure, the Mexican will pick ‘Royal Storm’ off with ease, allowing his left hook and flurries of upper-cuts to flow.”

Sure, after flitting back and forth I picked Dogboe by split decision, but the way that Dogboe was going to lose the rematch was obvious, and it played out that way.

The former WBO super bantamweight champion may look elsewhere, having had his father, Paul Dogboe, in his corner from the amateur ranks to a professional world title. The former British army officer deserves huge respect in guiding his son’s career to this point, however, the ceiling to his tactical awareness was exploited in this rematch.

The remit was clear: find a way to neutralise the size, reach and pressure of Navarrate, with a plan to change tactics later in the fight if the knockout wasn’t coming. The fundamentals were not evident to carry out this mission, with Dogboe’s attempts to headhunt the champion proving suicidal the longer the fight went on.

Speaking after the fight, Dogboe Snr. was refreshingly honest in speaking to Graphic Sports: “Oh yes, he will take a long vacation and continue his education and if that hunger comes back then he will come back to fight. ... I think I will have to get him another trainer if he decides to come back and fight because I can’t do this anymore.”

Dogboe’s rise over the past 18 months has been as rapid as it has been impressive. The father-and-son relationship has been fascinating to follow, but now, blind faith in family loyalty can’t get in the way of “Royal Storm’s” future.

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