By Michael Rosenthal
Issac Dogboe: Sometimes a fighter just needs an opportunity.
Jessie Magdaleno, then the WBO junior featherweight titleholder, was scheduled to fight mandatory challenger Cesar Juarez in November but had to pull out because of an injured hand. Juarez then traveled to Ghana to face unbeaten – and largely unknown – Issac Dogboe for the interim WBO title while Magdaleno’s hand healed.
Magdaleno’s bad luck was Dogboe’s good luck. The 2012 Olympian from Accra stopped Jaurez in five rounds, which set up his title shot against Magdaleno on Saturday in Philadelphia.
You know the rest. Dogboe, a thick, 5-foot-2-inch dynamo, brought back memories of countrymen Azumah Nelson and Ike Quartey by battering Magdaleno into submission 11th round to win the title and emerging as a potential star in the process.
Dogboe (19-0, 13 KOs) wasn’t completely anonymous going into the fight, as he had just beaten Juarez, but no one really knew what to expect from him. And things didn’t look good early against Magdaleno, who put his opponent down in the first round. The natural thought at that moment was, “Well, this won’t last long.”
Then we learned a lot about the new champion.
Dogboe, a fearless warrior constructed of compacted muscle, simply overwhelmed Magdaleno (25-1, 18 KOs) physically. He started slowly, put Magdaleno down in Round 5 and steadily broke him down from there with damaging punches to both the head and body. By the time the end came – after Madaleno went down two more times in Round 11 – the loser’s body could take no more.
The performance was an eye-opener.
I can’t yet compare Dogboe to Nelson, one of the best African fighters of all time, but he reminded me of The Professor in terms of body type – short, stout, unusually durable. I think Dogboe is more like Quartey is style, though, a strong fighter who will outlast his opponents more often than not.
Dogboe already can be considered a major threat to any 122-pounder. And in light of the fact he has fought many times above the junior featherweight limit, I have to think he’ll end up at 126 pounds soon. That’s where the likes of Gary Russell Jr., Leo Santa Cruz, Carl Frampton, Abner Mares, Lee Selby and Oscar Valdez reside.
How would Dogboe do against that level of opposition? It will fun to find out.
BIGGEST WINNER II
Jarrell Miller: The most remarkable thing about Miller is what he can do at his size.
The 6-foot-4 American heavyweight fought French veteran Johann Duhaupas at a somewhat flabby 304¼ pounds (138 kg) on the Daniel Jacobs-Maciej Sulecki card Saturday in Brooklyn, a weight at which common sense tells you “Big Baby” would be slow and tire quickly.
That’s not the case with Miller, a terrific athlete who is both quick-handed and unusually active. He reportedly threw almost 800 punches against Duhaupas, a large number for a heavyweight. He threw more punches in each of the final three rounds than he did in any of the previous nine, an indication that he was in good condition. And he wasn’t just tapping Duhaupas; he was trying to hurt the big Frenchman with almost every punch he threw.
It was fascinating to watch and too much for the durable Duhaupas, who lost a unanimous decision.
I doubt Miller would beat either Anthony Joshua or Deontay Wilder and would probably struggle with a few more heavyweights, although I’m starting to think that he could give anyone some trouble.
If Miller (21-0-1, 18 KOs) could throw as many punches against the titleholders as he did against Duhaupas (37-5, 24 KOs) on Saturday, they would find it difficult to mount their own attacks. One question: Can Miller hurt Joshua and Wilder? And a more important question: Can he take a shot from such big punchers?
I think any heavyweight can hurt any opponent with the right punch, which answers the first question at least in part. I don’t know how to answer the second question. We’ll see.
I’m sure of one thing: If Miller were to end up on the top of the heavyweight heap, his reign would be entertaining outside the ring. He is as charming as anyone in the sport when a microphone is in front of his face, which goes a long way in terms of marketing. I think the American public would fall in the love with him.
All he has to do is continue to win.
BIGGEST WINNER III
Jim Lampley: “It happened! It happened?”
I didn’t hear the HBO broadcaster’s call of George Foreman’s historic knockout of Michael Moorer to regain the heavyweight championship as it happened because I was in the arena.
When I heard it later, I remember thinking: “Simple, to the point. Perfect. Leave it to Jim Lampley.”
Lampley has been getting it right for three decades, as he celebrated 30 years as a blow-by-blow announcer during the Daniel Jacobs-Maciej Sulecki card Saturday night in Brooklyn.
His strong, authoritative delivery and sophisticated style have become an institution during that time. When you hear his voice, you immediately think “big fight.” That’s an advantage HBO has over all other networks.
Lampley’s calls are as much a part of the action as the fists flying in the ring, although he never becomes intrusive. He says enough to enhance the drama as only he can but never makes it about Jim Lampley.
Indeed, through it all, Lampley, one of the sport’s true good guys, has remained humble.
“I have that relationship with the public because I've been privileged to call so many big fights,” he told ESPN.com. “When I look carefully at which fighters have been prominent over the past 30 years it becomes clear how fortunate I've been to work at HBO."
No, we’re the ones who’ve been fortunate that Lampley is the voice of our sport in the United States and beyond. No one does it better.
Congratulations on your milestone, Jim.
Jacobs (34-2, 29 KOs) turned in a good performance against Sulecki (26-1, 10 KOs), winning a unanimous decision and reminding us that he is on par with any 160-pounder in the world. Jacobs had to work hard for the victory but there is no shame in that; Sulecki is a polished boxer. Of course, Jacobs wants the money that goes with facing Canelo Alvarez or one of the middleweight titleholders – Gennady Golovkin and Billy Joe Saunders – but he called out Jermall Charlo, the rising star from Houston. Fantastic fight. Two exceptional boxers with knockout power who are at the peak of their abilities, which is the ideal matchup. Jacobs probably would be favored because he’d have an edge in experience and probably size, given that Charlo has fought only twice as a full-fledged 160-pounder, but Charlo is the hotter and more dynamic of the two. Let’s hope they can make the fight happen. … Sulecki had stopped seven of his eight previous opponents but it seemed clear on Saturday that his relative lack of punching power is his weakness. If you can’t hurt an opponent, especially an elite one, it’s difficult to beat him. He held his own against Jacobs, though. He’ll be back. … Will Magdaleno? The Las Vegan was beaten up, a fate from which it’s difficult to bounce back. He ideally would get a rematch with Dogboe to redeem himself but, even if Dogboe is willing, I wouldn’t jump into it. He should take a fight or two to rebuild his confidence. …
Claudio Marrero (23-2, 17 KOs) rebuilt his confidence after his knockout loss to Jesus Rojas in September. In his next fight, on Saturday in El Paso, the Dominican needed only one punch – an overhand left – and 33 seconds to stop then-unbeaten Jorge Lara (29-1-2, 21 KOs). Watch it on YouTube. Brutal shot. … Josesito Lopez, (36-7, 19 KOs) Anthony Dirrell , (32-1-1, 24 KOs) and Erickson Lubin (19-1, 14 KOs) beat second-tier opponents on the El Paso card. Lubin was fighting for the first time since he was stopped by Jermell Charlo in October. … Super middleweight contender Jesse Hart (24-1, 20 KOs) gave a nice performance on the Dogboe-Magdaleno card, stopping relative novice Demond Nicholson (18-3-1, 17 KOs) in the seventh round. The performance of referee Shawn Clark wasn’t as good. He ruled an apparent push down a knockdown in the third round, which is excusable. It happened quickly. The events of the final round are harder to explain. First, Nicholson’s gloves touched the canvas after an exchange but it wasn’t rule a knockdown. Nicholson then went down again and was on one knee as Clark counted. When Clark reached eight and it was apparent that Nicholson had no intention of standing, Clark stopped counting and said, among other things, “Get up.” Nicholson finally did – well beyond 10 seconds – and Clark finally waved off the fight. Huh? It’s Clark’s job to count or stop the fight, not suggest the fighter get to his feet. Clark’s strange behavior didn’t affect the outcome but it was weird.
Michael Rosenthal is the winner of the 2018 Boxing Writers Association of America’s Nat Fleischer Award for excellence in boxing journalism. He has covered boxing for almost three decades.