Folks, we cannot tell a lie: For in-ring action, this is a pretty dead coming weekend in boxing.
But there is one fight of note on major U.S. TV, and it’s at least a well-matched fight on paper, as Joet Gonzalez faces Isaac Dogboe in a featherweight main event Saturday night on ESPN+.
So who wins? Well skip past the first idiot and see what the next three guys have to say!
Scott Christ (47-25)
I really enjoy Dogboe, but have a hard time seeing him win this. If he does, he may have to seriously out-work Gonzalez, and I don’t know that this will happen; Gonzalez isn’t afraid to get in and mix it up, and Dogboe is hardly the physical challenge Emanuel Navarrete was, so when you combined Gonzalez’s willingness and toughness with his size advantages — yeah, tough to see how Dogboe does this, other than maybe some punishing body shots.
Both of these guys are good fighters and it’s a good matchup. A win keeps one of them in the mix at 126, where the WBO belt could go vacant at some point if/when Navarrete decides to move up, which will probably happen if/when Shakur Stevenson moves up and leaves Navarrete a vacant 130 belt to fight Archie Sharp or Albert Bell for.
Wil Esco (56-16)
The thing about Isaac Dogboe is he’s a really easy fighter to root for because he bears so much of his heart in the ring. And for the most part that heart carried him as far as he has. But, man, those two fights against Emanuel Navarrete were brutal and Dogboe is such a small guy that I’m not sure he’ll ever fully recapture the momentum he had before then, even despite his recent three-fight win streak.
I’ve never been too high on Joet Gonzalez, but he’s a decent enough technician that I believe he can use his height and reach to outpoint Dogboe and not allow the fight to spend too much time at close range where Dogboe has his best hopes for a win. I suppose I wouldn’t be completely stunned to see Dogboe pull off a win, but my first inclination is to say he drops a decision over the distance. Gonzalez UD-10
Johh Hansen (55-17)
I’ve spent all week cogitating on this matchup. My gut instinct is Dogboe. But, every time I stop and think it through, I convince myself I should probably go with Gonzalez instead. Gonzalez is bigger, he’s a more natural and conventional 126 pound fighter, and he’s very capable of handling the sort of in-close aggression Dogboe will have to bring to stay competitive here. I’ve also suspected Dogboe might be in over his head, somewhat literally, ever since moving up from 122 pounds. Each time, he’s proven himself capable at featherweight.
Every time I go over this matchup, I get more excited about what we might be in for on Saturday. Dogboe must march forward to succeed. Gonzalez is entertaining as hell in a high volume fight. Both guys have good to very good power for their size. Dogboe can get up when he gets caught, and Gonzalez can withstand inhumane levels of punishment without stopping. And the stakes are high for both men. Whoever wins is right in the mix as a title contender, and whoever loses runs the risk of falling down to gatekeeper status. The ingredients for something special are on the table.
Expecting a great fight is the surest path to disappointment. So, let’s not make any bold statements, and just say that my most confident prediction is that anyone tuning in for this event is likely getting good entertainment. Maybe something thrilling. As for who wins? I’ll go with my instinct this time. Dogboe MD-10
Patrick Stumberg (57-15)
Joet Gonzalez’s big, game-breaking flaw is that he’s way too willing to put his earmuffs on and wait his turn. This let Shakur Stevenson get in, do his work, and get out before Gonzalez could get in position to retaliate, and it allowed Emanuel Navarrete to fire off his trademark volleys with relative impunity for much of their fight. On paper, Dogboe’s swarming style presents a similar issue, but “Royal Storm’s” willingness to stay in the pocket and lack of the slick, offbeat footwork that Stevenson and Navarrete used means he’s going to be in Gonzalez’s firing line a lot more often.
That means trading with a big, durable, and heavy-handed featherweight. If Dogboe had carried his power up, he’d have a good shot, but even with the benefit of 10 rounds instead of 12, it’s hard not to picture him getting physically overwhelmed as the fight progresses. Gonzalez steadily takes over a phone booth firefight. Gonzalez UD-10