It will take more than a final round TKO against an average boxer to totally repair the damage done by the two defeats suffered at the hands Emanuel Navarrete, but Isaac Dogboe’s performance against Chris Avalos cannot, and must not, be downplayed.
It’s a performance that inspires confidence and restores some amount of belief in his abilities. He was expected to win and do so impressively. He won but whether or not he impressed is subjective. That notwithstanding, it is difficult to argue that the objectives of this fight within the context of past happenings and future possibilities haven’t been met.
Dogboe had complained about struggling to make the 122 lbs super bantamweight limit and felt his natural weight was featherweight (126 lbs). It sounded like a rather lame excuse especially hearing it for the first time immediately after losing to Navarrete, but the truth is that he looked sharp against Avalos.
When a boxer dominates a fight from start to finish, it is either testament to his opponent’s technical ineptitude or his owner quality. This is why it is tempting to water down the performance of Dogboe for the simple reason that he fought against an average boxer but make no mistake, this was a quality performance. The work done by Barry Hunter and Patrice Harris was evident and if he continues to work under the duo he will only get better.
There was a difference between the Dogboe we saw in this fight and the one against Navarrete, at least in execution and speed. It is refreshing to see that he’s struck quite a bond with his two trainers after all the uncertainty that surrounded earlier choices in the aftermath of the Navarrete defeat.
Freddie Roach is a legend but I had doubts over his suitability for Dogboe given the fact that the Ghanaian needed someone to bring a defensive side and a bit of speed to his game. Roach’s fighters attack to defend and are often too open. James ‘Light Out’ Toney is one of my all-time favourite boxers but good boxers don’t necessarily make good trainers unless your surname is Mayweather.
Dogboe needed someone who could work on his psyche given the nature of the defeats suffered against Navarrete. Toney, in my opinion, wasn’t fit for purpose and this performance does justice to why Dogboe settled on Hunter and Harris. His jab was sharp and accurate. His defence, characterized by constant movement of the head was a marked improvement on what we’ve seen in recent fights. His four-punch combination and the sweeping right hand which prompted the referee to end the contest was executed with speed and finesse. His confidence was up there. He looked a fighter reborn.
This was the beginning of a comeback rather than a comeback in itself. The stakes remain high despite this victory because a certain amount of doubt still lingers and will linger until Dogboe beats an A-list boxer and or put himself in contention for another crack at the world title. The standard he set is that of a world champion or a top quality boxer. His claim to those standards will only be by beating the best and being consistent.
Avalos had lost five of his last eight fights, four of them via stoppages and one by unanimous decision. That is hardly a proper challenge for a boxer the calibre of Dogboe. All he had going into this fight was a punchers chance. Let this fight happen ten times and Dogboe will likely win every single one.
Dogboe stated in his post-fight interview that he’s “warming up” and that is exactly what this fight was – a warm-up. It is the reason optimism must be mixed with a bit of caution. Dogboe’s next opponent must be an improvement on Avalos. Nobody will remember how good he was when he beat Avalos if Dogboe loses his next fight. The challenge is straightforward for Dogboe – rack up a string of impressive victories.
Consistency is a sure way to repair Dogboe’s reputation as a top boxer. Avalos represented a banana peel rather than a litmus test. I do not say this to take the shine off the work he’s done against Avalos. It is a testament to the quality of the ‘Royal Storm’. Dogboe belongs among the elite of the sport. Victory against Avalos sets the ladder firmly in place for a steady climb back to his rightful place.