DECEMBER 8, 2018, will forever be engraved on the memory of Ghana’s Isaac ‘Royal Storm’ Dogboe – as well as avid disciples of the brave pugilist.
It was not a glorious moment at all on that Saturday night in the Madison Square Garden in USA. It was an acerbic moment of stupefaction and disappointment as Dogboe lost his WBO super bantamweight title to Mexico’s hard-hitting Emanuel Navarrete.
The Ghanaian champion had held the title for barely eight months!
Two judges scored the fight 116-112 for Navarrete and the third had it 115-113. It was a unanimous decision that even the biggest fanatic of the vanquished boxer agreed with, though the loss came in all-too unlooked-for.
Coming on a date (December 8) that the nation’s legend boxer Azumah Nelson was marking 34 years after being crowned WBC featherweight champion, adds more salt to injury.
Dogboe, a 2012 Olympian, had ruptured the scene early this year, winning an interim title by crushing Cesar Juarez in the fifth round in January, then claiming the full title with a stirring 11th-round knockout of Jessie Magdaleno in April – followed by a first-round demolition of Hidenori Otake in August.
Everything then was looking excitingly cool until he had a terrible day in office on that agonizing, tear-jerking night.
According to CompuBox punch statistics, Navarrete landed 221 of 804 punches (28 percent) and Dogboe connected with 176 of 686 (26 percent). If this statistics are anything to go by, then clearly the Mexican really worked his nose to the grindstone and deserved the coronet.
Of course, though Dogboe’s face looked quite battered after the full flight, he fought like a champion and remained on his feet stoically. Many a boxer would have gone down after the Ghanaian came under a barrage of attacks, especially in the final two rounds.
The fact that Navarrete suffered a cut on the left side of his hairline in the second round is enough to tell the world Dogboe gave a dignified account of himself.
Admittedly, it was not the vintage Dogboe we saw. Something may have gone wrong.
First, there was a gross lack of respect for the Mexican challenger going into the fight – ultimately affecting the overall preparation of the 24-year-old Ghanaian. This was later confirmed by Dogboe himself as well as his dad and trainer Paul, in a post-fight interview.
“We underrated him. I did not have the best of training camps ahead of the fight,” Dogboe said after the fight.
Much as we sympathise with the Dogboe camp on the disorienting loss, the billet of excuse was unacceptable.
Indeed, this is a scandalous excuse and one would have wished Dogboe had never said this. A world title fight is definitely what it is, heedless of the opposition. How do you underestimate a boxer who has been in the top rating at this level for a couple of years?
Certainly, this is no excuse at all. It holds no water. You do not go into a gun-fight with a knife. You can only underestimate your opponent at your peril.
At the Tokyo Dome on February 11, 1990, world boxing was given a shock when James Buster Douglas stunned the world by knocking out champion Mike Tyson in the 10th round of their heavyweight fight to claim the title.
Tyson was said to have walked lamely into the fight, training only a couple of weeks as against Douglas who had spent nearly half-a-year getting himself in apple-pie order for the hitherto undefeated heavyweight.
The event is historically significant, as the undisputed heavyweight champion Tyson slumped badly to the 42-1 underdog Douglas.
For the umpteenth time on the night of his loss, Dogboe’s defensive guard continues to prove all-too penetrable – and that may have resulted in the puffy face he got. Great defence transcends and defines champions in all sports; and you are in trouble if you do not possess this value.
Having said that, it is not all lost for the Royal Storm at all. His defeat is only a temporary aberration. He is a bundle of talent and has what it takes to roar back! Even the greatest of boxers once or twice lost a fight. The Royal Storm should jump back on his horse, strap more powerfully and aim at the Holy Grail again by the end of 2019 or early 2020. It is possible!
Importantly, Dogboe should take it at lento pace on his drive to occupy the apex. His camp must hasten slowly and rather work exhaustively on the lad with regard to repackaging him for the Himalayan task ahead.
The good thing is that Dogboe has an array of boxers to tap from; boxers who lost their titles and made triumphant returns. The list includes his own mentor – Prof. Azumah Nelson, who regained his WBC title on December 1, 1995, with a fifth round knock-out over Mexico’s Gabriel Ruelas – having lost it on points two years earlier.
There is also compatriot Joseph Agbeko who got back his IBF bantamweight title on December 11, 2010, after defeating Yonnhy Perez, with a masterful performance in a rematch of their October 2009 clash.
Truth is that Dogboe’s division is ladened with tough, rugged young boxers that include the likes of Danny Roman and Rey Vargas – and he would have to be in tip-top shape to win back his crown. It would mean lots of sacrifice, forbearance, commitment, dedication and hardwork – just what it took him to become world champion.
It would also not be out of place if the Dogboe camp augments its backroom staff. Doubtless, Paul has done tremendously well so far, but getting one or two technical brains into their fold would serve a great purpose diving into a future of hope and optimism.
Dad has been awesome, so far. But against Navarette, the Dogboe camp did not have a sniff of antidote to the Mexican’s aggressive style, deepening calls for reinforcement.
The future remains all-too positive as there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel. The most important thing is that vital lessons must be picked from the heart-rending loss. True warriors do not give up. Dogboe is a true warrior – and he will live to fight another day to become champion again!
BY JOHN VIGAH