A fun featherweight final eliminator is just over a month away. Top Rank have officially announced that Joet Gonzalez will meet Isaac Dogboe atop a July 23rd ESPN+ card in Hinckley, Minnesota.
Gonzalez (25-2, 16 KO) and Dogboe (23-2, 15 KO) sit at No. 1 and No. 2 in the WBC’s rankings, meaning the winner will be next in line for the winner of Mark Magsayo vs. Rey Vargas two weeks prior.
Gonzalez has twice challenged for gold, falling well short against Shakur Stevenson in a 2019 bid for the WBO title but giving Emanuel Navarette a stiff test for the same belt last October. He was last seen mauling Jeo Santisima on the March 4th Ramirez-Pedraza show, and while it’s clear he’s a step below the genuine elite, it’s fair to say he’s proven himself a tough out for most everyone else at 126.
The same can’t quite be said about Dogboe. “Royal Storm” was on pace for one of the more impressive years in recent memory back in 2018, but got derailed in two one-sided defeats to Navarrete and has looked to be on borrowed time since moving up to 126. Though he managed to stop Isaac Avelar in his divisional debut, he barely scraped past Adam Lopez and Christopher Diaz via majority decision.
He’s still fast, powerful, and hugely entertaining, but he’s nowhere near the force of nature he was at 122 and remains undersized. He’ll give up two inches of height and half a foot of reach to Gonzalez.
At the end of the day, though, this looks like it’ll be a a phone booth slugfest until someone goes down, so I’m here for it.
Gonzalez said, “The third time’s a charm, and I’m more motivated than ever to have a world title around my waist. Isaac Dogboe always comes to fight. The respect is there, but on July 23, I am preparing to go to battle. I expect the best version of Dogboe, and I will be at the top of my game.”
Dogboe said, “I have been tested against the very best, and on July 23, we go to war against another top contender in Joet Gonzalez. I am excited to be back in a main event as I continue my quest to become a two-weight world champion.”
The co-feature sees Gabriel Flores Jr. (21-1, 7 KO) continue down the comeback trail against recent Top Rank signee Giovanni Cabrera (20-0, 7 KO), who pulled an ugly upset of Rene Tellez Giron in January that most would prefer to forget.
Cabrera said, “I’m here to contend for the lightweight crown. I’m still getting better, and I still have a lot to prove. Gabriel Flores Jr. is a highly skilled fighter, but I’m used to taking on this level of challenge. I know he’s never been in with a fighter like me. His strategy against me will only be a guess, a shot in the dark, but how can you prepare for a style you’ve never seen? I’m going to train my butt off out of full respect for my opponent, and the fans will be the winners.”
“I am a different fighter at lightweight. The weight is no longer an issue, and you’re going to see the same fighter that knocked out Velez,” Flores said. “I like fighting southpaws, so if Cabrera thinks I don’t have the strategy to beat him, he’s going to be in for a rude awakening on July 23. I know what I need to do, and mark my words, I’m going to win this fight in dominant fashion.”
The usual suspects round out the undercard, including Guido Vianello (8-0-1, 8 KO), Haven Brady Jr. (6-0, 4 KO), and Antonio Mireles (3-0, 3 KO).