Nathaniel Attoh: Dear Navarette

I hope this meets you well, champ. It’s me, the Ghanaian journalist who interviewed you at the Tucson City Center Hotel in Arizona, during the final week of your build up to the second meeting with Isaac Dogboe in 2019.

First, let me congratulate you on achieving this very big feat of winning a world title in a third weight class. And by this you have joined a select few of Mexican boxing greats who have been dominant in more than two weight classes.

My first and second impressions of you

I think you’re an absolute gentleman. I made these impressions after quietly observing you over the course of the final fight week between you and Isaac Dogboe in Tucson.

So you are the unassuming character, who will greet politely and walk away to take care of business and the focused champion who will get on the treadmill and keep it going till the allotted time is done. And ring craft wise you have something to offer the sport, the reason you have been consistent with your performances.

All these are not meant to elevate you to perfection because you are human and have been vulnerable in the ring on some occasions.

Initially, I thought you hardly had any confidence especially because of the way you quietly walked into the weigh-in ahead of that fight. Watched in surprise as you, the reigning champion, walked by the sides of the hall with your head bowed at certain times. For a moment I wondered “This is the champion whose bout is a headliner as well? I was expecting some subtle fanfare.” But after seeing you in action I realized its part of your natural demeanor and probably part of your bout strategy.

Vacating the WBO featherweight title

The issue of the WBO featherweight title for me was pretty simple. Vacating it and moving on has been a good decision. From the Ghanaian perspective it has eased off the possible stretch of the route of the April 1 clash between Isaac Dogboe and Robeisy Ramirez in Oklahoma. If you had stayed on, that bout would have been an eliminator. The other consideration which I guess you are already aware of, is that decisions in this sport are made based on the state of the body, in this case your body. With age and time the muscle bulk will increase and also affect our weight. There is a possibility you could have struggles to return to the featherweight (126 lbs) and there is also the possibility that you could be comfortable there.

But in all of this there is also the question of risk and how it could affect your legacy. Remaining there could have also been a risk because sometimes the smooth run can be disrupted by one moment gone wrong. Of course every new day in the ring is a risk. I am immediately reminded of the ‘Executioner’ Bernard Hopkins who wanted to go all the way till age 50 as a middleweight champion. Rightly so, he was not your regular 40 plus boxer. Pushing it beyond age 50, he had to bow out of the sport with two straight losses to Sergey Kovalev and Joe Smith. So sometimes pushing it in a weight category could be a hazard. I believe you have adhered very much to the saying “bow out when the cheers are loudest.” Now that you are in the super featherweight division there has to be extra focus and zeal because the journey will get more challenging.

Competition in the super featherweight class

Each of the four main sanctioning bodies has separate champions – O’Shaqui Foster for WBC, Gervonta Davis for WBA, Shavkat Rahimov for IBF and yourself with the WBO strap.

Twenty-nine-year-old Foster just started his stint with the WBC belt. And it couldn’t have come in better fashion than his halting of Rey Vargas’s 36-bout winning run to annex the vacant title. Just like any other champion Vargas would want longevity with the belt and that is what will spark competition. His record of 29 wins and two losses gives an indication of vulnerability but that could be made irrelevant depending on how his subsequent title defences go.

Current WBA champion, Gervonta ‘The Tank’ Davis (23-0) is surely one face to watch in the division. After snatching the title from Hector Luis Garcia he is looking good to state a claim for unification. However, he has to clear the high-profile hurdle with Ryan Garcia on April 22 first since it will further solidify his place as one of the four champions in the division.

Then there is Shavkatdzhon Rahimov has gone 17 bouts unscathed and has 14 of them coming via Kos. The Tajikistan-born champion also gets busy on April 22 in Cardiff to defend the IBF belt against undefeated Joe Cordina. This will definitely be a big litmus test which will increase his appeal and the crave for his bouts by the boxing public if he is successful on the night.

While the road ahead is tough, it will help you and the other champions tell tales of modern boxing history. Like all my other colleagues around the world, I will be keenly monitoring.

Yours in boxing.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.