A Royal Storm with purpose!

Dogboe being declared winner of the fight by US Referee Tony Weeks at the Bukom Boxing Arena

Dogboe being declared winner of the fight by US Referee Tony Weeks at the Bukom Boxing Arena

The jam-packed Bukom arena thundered and wobbled at its very foundation when his name bellowed out from the loud speakers. He was lacing his gloves for the kill!

An animatedly expectant crowd had been waiting for him all night – having already seen some four less-fascinating supporting bouts. Somebody had to come to serve the fans something worth the wait; something worth relishing. Alas! With gusto, he burst out amid the din of excitement that engulfed the arena.

He is Isaac ‘Royal Storm’ Dogboe, the 23-year-old hard-hitting Ghanaian world title hopeful whose spectacular ring-craft and indomitably rich doughty character reminds the world of the halcyon days of the legendary Azumah Nelson.

At stake on Saturday night was the vacant World Boxing Association (WBO) Interim Super Bantamweight title. Winner of the fight, staged by Rising Star Africa Promotions, will contest against the world title holder, Jessie Magdaleno.

And, the boxer standing in the path of Dogboe for that mega career-defining bout was well-revered 26-year-old Mexican Cesar Juarez, who said he was in Accra for nothing but business. Indeed, Juarez zoomed into the Bukom Arena with a fight record of 20-5, 15 Kos. He seems to be the more experienced boxer of the two, but not more technically adroit than Dogboe.

Dogboe had a sterling fight record of 17 wins – all by way of knock-outs, heading into the duel. Such was the qualities of the two pugilists that culminated in the full house. So thick was the crowd that when one throws a grain of maize into them, it would certainly not find its way down.

The first round got underway with Dogboe slipping a bit on the canvass but remained on his feet. That apparently served as the wake-up call for the Ghanaian who opened up an artillery of ferocious punches on the body of the Mexican.  Indeed, he worked with ruthless intensity. The crowd loved it. They exploded into a cacophony of cheers to salute the show.

Dogboe continued from where he let off in the second round as he sent Juarez crashing with a powerful left hook to his chin for the mandatory count. Gamely, the Mexican beat the count. But the torture would continue unabated to end the round.

By the third round, it was becoming obvious by the minutes that Juarez might not survive the distance of 12 rounds. He would not last. Dogbe was bent on finishing the business as promised as he worked on his body rather brutally with Juarez fighting back gallantly though. But all this while, Juarez was confused – totally perplexed. He was constantly failing to find antidote to the Ghanaian’s mesmerising firepower.

Interestingly, Juarez had his finest moment in the fourth round, managing a series of striking body shots and swift jabs that kept the crowd momentarily quiet. Isaac’s dad and trainer, Paul Dogboe, may have been rattled. He scowled and growled orders.

Paul had invested his world into the fight which was to carve his son’s path to the world title proper. It was not time to fail. No!  And, the ‘Royal Storm’ had an unmistakable impression about that belief.

The Mexican continued with that style in the fifth round as the two pugilists were embroiled in brief give-and-take exchanges until a deceptively innocuous stinging left punch from Dogboe sent Juarez to the canvass – two minutes into the round.

This time, it was the number one-ranked Juarez’s last tango.  He had done well to spring back onto his feet. But just! The mass of the Dogboe punch seemed too intense to bear as Juarez wobbled and staggered back and forth into the arms of United States’ Referee Tony Weeks who instantly signaled for the end of hostilities.

The Mexican challenger had been taken to uncharted territory by Dogboe and did not find the way out.

Screamingly, the crowd romped into raptures with Dogbe’s Apostles Revelation Society (ARS) church and the agbadza-drumming groups combining deliciously to create an infectious carnival in celebration of the new WBO Interim Super Bantamweight champion.

They were not the only ones around.  The cheers of the night were also generated by hordes of dignitaries including WBO Vice President John Duggan, Minister of Youth and Sports Isaac Asiamah, ex-sports minister Nii Lante Vanderpuje, members of the Anlo Traditional Council as well as traditional rulers from the Volta Region led by the Awomefia of the Anlo State, Togbe Sri III, members of the Diplomatic Corps, former world champions Azumah Nelson and Ike Quartey and many others.

Moments after the fight were boxing’s vicissitudes: whilst Dogboe was cart-wheeled shoulder-high in celebration, his opponent crashed into his corner in throbbing, uncontrollable tears. Though disappointed with himself, Juarez said the referee was all-too quick to stop the fight, contending that the referee failed to give him a count after the second knockdown.

Indeed, the fight with Dogboe was the Mexican’s second chance to fight for a title. In December 2015, he gave then-junior featherweight world titlist Nonito Donaire a very tough fight but ultimately lost a unanimous decision in one of that year’s most exciting fights.

An excited Dogbe could not hide his joy after the all-action night, thanking the crowd for their stunning piece of support and promising to bring the title home, this year.

“Jesse Magdaleno, I’m coming for you baby. I know you’re going to run, but the African Lion is coming,” he roared after the busy night.

Predictably, Magdaleno would wish to avoid Dogboe now.  But he dares not! He is under obligation to make a mandatory defence against the Ghanaian by March – failure of which he could be stripped of the WBO title and handed over to his challenger.

The undefeated Dogboe, now  18-0, 12 KOs, battered Filipino Neil John Tabanao to win the WBC Youth Silver Featherweight title in 2016 and went on annex the vacant WBO International super bantamweight crown the same year with a convincing unanimous decision victory over Julian Evaristo Aristule in New Zealand.

He did not stop there – proceeding to defend his WBO International super bantamweight title with TKO win against Argentina’s Javier Chacon in Accra, in July, 2017.

Clearly, the young dynamic Ghanaian is all-too determined to join the golden fleet of his world-beating compatriots –  from featherweight David Kotei (D.K Poison), first Ghanaian world champion (September 20, 1975); three-time featherweight and super featherweight WBC champion Azumah Nelson (December 8, 1984), bantamweight Alfred Kotey (July 30, 1994), Nana Yaw Konadu, who  first won the WBC and Lineal super flyweight title in 1989 and later captured the WBA bantamweight crown on January 28, 1996; welterweight king Ike Quartey (June 4, 1994), IBF bantamweight king Joseph Agbeko (September 29, 2007), welterweight champion Joshua Clottey (August 2, 2008) to International Boxing Organisation (IBO) and reigning lightweight champion Emmanuel ‘Game Boy’ Tagoe (December 2, 2016).

“I think he’s got what it takes to be a world champion. He is aggressive, hungry and ready to go. But he got to train harder to achieve his dreams,” says former World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight champion Ike Quartey, who knocked out Crisanto Espana in France to conquer the world in 1994.

Quartey might be right in his assertion, but Dogboe appears too famished to let his guards down now.  If for nothing at all, the Royal Storm is hungry to add his name to the glistened list of winners.

BY JOHN VIGAH

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