Isaac Dogboe has been making the most of his big week. Lean and mean, Ghana’s World Boxing Organisation Super Bantamweight Champion has been talking the right talk and promising he will emerge from the Gila River Arena against Hidenori Otake with his world title intact and his reputation unscratched.
This will be Dogboe’s first defence since he beat Jesse Magdaleno in an outstanding display back in April. Dogboe expects his first defence to be even more difficult because he says “they will come for me now.”
He, however, has no doubt he will come through and via knockout against a 37-year old who has admitted this will be his last chance at world title glory.
At 23, Dogboe will have many more opportunities at world titles and be around for a long time to come. He will hope in that period too, he will grow in influence in boxing on the Ghanaian scene.
This is supposed to be one of Isaac Dogboe’s biggest week; the week when he says to the boxing world and a Ghanaian public consumed by affection for boxing that he will be their torchbearer on the international stage for a long time.
And yet, it has felt nothing like that. The buildup in Ghana has been ‘lowkey’; there has been no buzz apart from a few regular television reports and Dogboe himself playing chief hypeman on his own social media feeds.
It is a fight that he says will take him to the next level and closer to a dominant figure in the division but the buildup has felt nothing like that at least at home.
While Dogbe remains the biggest boxing name in town, he is far from a mainstream name as he himself admits. “I am just a newly crowned champion, I am just warming up”, he said.
Part of that lack of mainstream appeal can be explained by Dogboe’s background. The 23-year was born in Ghana, then educated in England before returning home with his father to stake his claim in a boxing field dominated young men for whom the sport was not just a means of passing time. It was a way of life.
In that sense, in the mainstream Ghanaian boxing community, Dogboe has never really been considered one of them. He didn’t box with them on the streets of Bukom, didn’t sweat it out with them in those makeshift gyms and lacks for many of those fans the legitimacy that emerging from Bukom brings.
Ghana’s previous boxing world champions have all almost exclusively honed their skills and developed their fan base from Bukom, a small suburb of Accra that gave the world Azumah Nelson and former WBA Welterweight champion Ike Bazooka Quartey. Bukom and its surrounding areas also just happen to have perhaps the most dedicated boxing fans in Ghana too. In fight weeks, they turn it all into a whole event.
Dogboe’s mass appeal has also not been helped but what’s effectively been a television blackout of his world title triumph in April. When he steps into the ring in Glendale, Arizona on Saturday night, it will be to a national television blackout again.
As he boxed his way into Ghanaian boxing history, there were few Ghanaians monitoring it via streaming services and various social media accounts but to date, very few Ghanaians have seen the amount of work he put in to become a boxing world champion, sharp contrast to how the whole country kept wake in the 90s to watch Azumah Nelson’s big nights and Ike Quartey’s exploits when he emerged on the scene.
As Dogbe himself admits though, he is work in progress. His bravery in the ring has already won him many fans and his ability to talk a good talk and almost squeaky clean public image suggest he could appeal a lot more as well to those who are not exactly boxing fans.
But nothing wins over fans for a sportsman than delivering and if Dogboe puts in another solid display against the 37-year old Otake, he won’t just be enhancing his reputation among international boxing fans, he will be winning the battle to become an even bigger name than he is in Ghana now.
By Michael Oti Adjei|3news.com|Ghana