Madison Square Gardens, the venue of some of boxing’s greatest feats was supposed to re-affirm Isaac Dogboe as the next boxing super star from Ghana and the African continent. Instead it has exposed everything from his tactical flaws to his management.
Dogboe stepped into the ring for the fourth time in his most defining year, the year he climbed to the apex of his profession convinced that this would be another day that underlined his growing status the best super bantamweight around.
What he had not bargained for by his own admission was just how good his Mexican opponent and mandatory challenger Emmanuel Navarrate was. “Team Dogboe has accepted defeat because under estimated the Mexican Emmanuel Navarrate,” Dogboe wrote on Twitter. “We have learnt from this experience and we will bound back stronger.”
Saturday night was in the words of the commentator on night, “a beat down in New York” and the three judges on the night agreed with their unanimous decision that left a first major dent on Dogboe’s otherwise unblemished record.
Dogboe’s swollen face, the overriding image from the humbling defeat quickly gained traction but it will be the least of his problems from. Neither would he care about the trolling that has led to the usual sanctimonious claims of “Ghana is not worth dying for” from some of Dogboe’s fans.
Smart and uber talented, he would the damage to his pride from the defeat would hurt more than the pummeling that the photo invokes. And in many ways, it is what would drive Dogboe to want to come back as quickly as he can.
“All we can say is mistakes were made which we paid the price for. We underestimated Navarrete. We thought we were just going to come and take him out. Isaac did not go into this fight fit,” his father and trainer Paul Dogboe said.
Paul’s candid assessment of the night exposed a lax mentality before the bout. It also provided the most compelling evidence yet for those who think Dogboe had become too comfortable before facing Navarrate.
We are often told those designing or creating a path has no clue when things go wrong. The wisdom is that those involved in a particular situation are so invested in it, they are incapable of honest assessment. Paul Dogboe defies that logic with his reading of what cost his son and ward their fight at Madison Square Garden.
That video he released spoke to a lot of issues.
Weight problems: “We had to use the sauna, steam rooms and all that madness to lose the weight. We prepared but not like how we used to.”
Distractions: “We had all these visitations like the royal visit, hogbetsosto, we came, Isaac had to travel from training camp to Ghana and we did not have a training camp how we used to and that really cost us this fight.”
Paul is of course confident his boy will come good. He is confident the Royal Storm will take down opponents again. And there is no reason not to believe so.
There are those who think for that to happen, Paul, Isaac’s trainer, the man who built him into a world champion needs to step aside and their words hand over to a more experienced trainer. It begs the question how he got him there if was not good enough in the first place. Surely if he was good enough to make him a world champion, he can get him there again even though the idea that technical help will facilitate the journey back to the top cannot be dismissed immediately.
The Dogboes would have known already that climbing to the top of the world of boxing is one thing. Staying there is another. Now Isaac has reason to work his way up again, take opponents serious and understand that distractions can be real. The good thing is that assessment has come from within.
By Michael Oti Adjei
The writer is Group Head of Sports at Media General