Isaac Dogboe sounded tough – like a champion – even at his lowest point. He spoke as though he hadn’t just come out of a sound beating.

His shoulders drooped, his face was badly swollen, his eyes bulging from their sockets. It looked really bad. Emmanuel Navarrete had snatched his world title. Something he had worked so hard for all his life (the prize of WBO Super Bantamweight) had just been taken away from him.

“It was a great fight. Emmanuel Navarrete fought like a true Mexican,” he said after the bout.

“I couldn’t stay down because champions are not meant to stay down. We are supposed to go down, get back up and keep fighting, and that’s what I did.”

Stops the fiery Mexican

It has been quite a while since that fight in December last year. The 24-year-old has called it a “moment of adversity” in his life’s work – a part of his career he probably wouldn’t include in his scrapbook when the gloves finally go up.

Many pundits believe the Dogboes, father and son, underestimated Navarrete going into the fight, which was careless on their part. But who wouldn’t?

Put yourself in these decent shoes. If you had stopped the fiercest boxer in your division (Cesar “Corazon” Juarez) in the fifth round, knocked the champion, Jesse Magdaleno, down in the eleventh to win the title, and beaten the next opponent without breaking into a sweat, there would be a little room for complacency.

Dogboe and his father were culprits of the shame that comes with underrating the opposition and, in this case, the “underdog”. But is Navarrete really an underdog? Did he deserve to be treated like one? The man had 22 knockouts from 27 fights, had lost once and had been on a 20-fight winning streak before he met Dogboe.

Paul Dogboe has cooked up several excuses for why his son lost. None holds water.

17 miles to run

Now, though, Dogboe is focused on getting back in shape for a rematch with Emmanuel Navarrete set for today (May 11) in Tucson, Arizona.

It’s said that hard times require a person to accept change and the Dogboes are on this path in their quest to be glorious again.

They chose Keta, on the coastline of the Volta Region, as the spot for their training.

This small town is very different from blustery Shidaa Street on the Awudome Estates where Dogboe lives in Accra. Keta is much quieter, suburban. The people love him and sing his name whenever he walks by.

His training regimen has changed, too. He ran from neighbouring Denu to Tegbi ‒ a 17-mile journey and a longer distance than the length of the Tema Motorway ‒ every morning before getting into light-work training with reaction balls and punchbags.

Dogboe explained: “We are doing eight hours a day. It’s like a daily job.

“We have to make sure that we right all the wrongs that happened in New York in December and that’s the reason why we pitched our camp out here.“Everything is going pretty well. It’s a tough challenge and I’m enjoying it.”

Toughened up

His sparring sections have grown tougher as the days go by, too. The finest of boxers in the Volta Region have been his sparring partners.

A quick look at the man showed he was getting there ‒ to full fitness, where he is at his dangerous best. Of regaining his fitness and hitting top levels again, Dogboe said: “I feel great. You get demotivated after a loss like mine but after that long period of rest, you need to get up and go through it again.

“It’s a phase, a learning process. Right now, I believe my mind is in the right place.”

Dogboe’s mental toughness has always been one of his fortes. In August 2016, I watched him in a bout against the Filipino Neil John “Beast” Tabanao where he hurt his arm in the early rounds of the bout, but went on and on, showing deep grit, till he grabbed the WBC Youth title by a unanimous decision.

He has since noted that fight as one of his toughest yet. The sort of mental strength which saw him through is the same sort he is building for the rematch against Navarrete.

“I am looking at a fit Isaac Dogboe and a fit Isaac Dogboe is a dangerous Isaac Dogboe,” his father, Paul, bragged.

Azumah in his sights?

Reeling from that painful defeat at every boxer’s dream venue, the Madison Square Garden, Dogboe will need to garner all his powers to surmount a hurdle that looks insurmountable for now.

“May 11, I promise you, I am knocking Emmanuel Navarrete out.

“I have seen him now. I know him now, and a lot has changed since December 9,” the former champion said.

It will take a great deal of work from the man who has his sights set more than anything on Azumah Nelson’s boxing record.

He knows it will not come easy and he is prepared ‒ well on the path to showing the world that he may not have the story of most Ghanaian boxers who have risen to the top, but he can write an entirely new one. #NeHo!

Update, May 12 (5am): Isaac Dogboe's side was obliged to throw in the towel in the 12th round of the fight in Tucson. His opponent, who was on top form, injured his hand landing the final punch that forced the Dogboe team to pull out.


Born: September 26 1994
Place of birth: Accra
Height: 157cm
Reach: 168cm
Nickname: Royal Storm
Turned professional: 2013
Professional fights: 21
Won: 20
Wins by TKO: 14
Lost: 1
Age at first world title: 23
Top title: WBO Super Bantamweight
First won: April 28 2018
Ranking in WBO division: 6
Took part in London 2012 Olympic Games
Trainer: Paul Dogboe
Promoter: Mike Altamura




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