The persistent chant of “Neho” wasn’t enough to spur Isaac Dogboe on Saturday night, at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. Not when faced with a rugged Mexican foe, Emanuel Navarrete, who had an edge in length and reach and in too many rounds, bullets in chamber.
Dogboe had moments when his aggressiveness and ring generalship stood out…but against the Mexican who looked like he could fill out to 135, the pint-sized Dogboe was a bit over-matched physically.
The judges spoke and the scores were 115-113 (Allen Nace); 116-112 (Don Ackerman), 116-112 (Anthony Paolillo)…”and the newwww.”
Navarrete had the Ghanian’s eyes swollen and he looked fresher down the stretch. Dogboe was able to muster a few “Nehos” in the ring after the verdict, and the crowd dug his class. But he conceded defeat.
Top Rank promoted the card, which ran on ESPN+ and ESPN the TV channel. Dogboe was 120.8 to 122 for the Mexican. The man from Ghana went to 20-1 and the loser went to 26-1.
“It was a great fight, and Emanuel Navarrete fought like a true Mexican warrior. Champions are supposed to keep going under any circumstance, but I just couldn’t get the victory. The best man won tonight,” said the loser, full of dignity.
Navarrete said after, “I thank Dogboe for this opportunity. This world championship represents every day that I was working away from my family. This title represents sacrifice. I injured my right hand early in the fight, but I had the desire to be a champion and I did everything necessary to get the title, and I am very happy and proud to achieve this goal of being the world champion.”
Dog went 176-686 and got outlanded and out-thrown, 221-804 for the winner.
In the first, Dogboe was the aggressor. Looked to get angles, whack to the body, and double jab. Nav was in retreat, trying to figure out the speed and power pack of the Ghanian. Then he took a run at Dogboe, landed a sharp right, and sent the memo: this won’t be easy.
In the second, Nav came on, real strong. He wasn’t scared, he was rumbling. He looked bigger and maybe strong than Isaac. The “Neho” chants were now less sure, more an attempt to catalyze.
In the third, a sharp left hook rocked Isaac. The Mexican maybe had tasted and digested Dogboes’ best power?
In the fourth, we heard rooters keep telling Isaac to stay inside, not let Nav get punching distance, space to work. Dogboe did good work inside, his shots compact and plentiful.
In the fifth, Nav was more aggressive and Isaac smartly used his legs to be more evasive.
In the sixth, Nav had a smashing round. His volume was impressive, he was moving well, and Isaac had no good answer for it. In the seventh, he did. Up the aggression, don’t allow yourself to get backed up.
In round 8, Isaac was working so well to the body. Nav wasn’t the aggressor and he wasn’t as effective when he wasn’t bossing Isaac around. To 9; Isaac was getting input from out of the ring trainer Andre Rozier. Nav went down, but no knockdown was called. The Mexican upped his ante later in the round, he got plain busier.
Round ten, then; the docs took an extra look at Dogboe’s eyes, particularly the left. He was okayed and they scrapped…The jab, Rozier wanted and he got it. He fired and then walked, not waiting for a receipt. Down Isaac went, but on a slip. Nav came on heavy in the last third and took the round.
To 11; “Believe in that jab,” yelled Rozier. Blood from Isaac’s nose, the left eye worse for wear…Slip for Isaac, he was beat. Nav was so long and sharp this late. To 12; the reach of Nav was on display to start. Isaac moved well and displayed ring generalship and then the Mexican dipped into his reservoir tank. We went to the cards.
The knockout of the year may well have happened at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Teofimo Lopez’ chopping right hand on the chin of Mason Menard had Menard’s neurons scrambled so severely, he tensed up and pitched face first to the mat.
Everyone breathed a sigh of relief when after two minutes he was helped to his feet and he exited the ring.
44 seconds into the match, Lopez got the W, but the buzz on the kid was heavy duty right off the bat. A couple bombs he landed thumped so hard they could be heard in every corner of the theater.
Lopez, born in Brooklyn, living in Las Vegas, went to 11-0, and Menard, the Louisiana-based fighter, went 34-4. He’d been stopped by Carl McNickles, Ray Beltran and then Devin Haney. This one was maybe the last one, because who needs this sort of brain trauma?
In the first, the winner with the trunks stitched with “Brooklyn Made” landed filthy rights. They sounded nasty. Menard pitched face first, and was twitching when the filthiest landed.
But of course, Lopez did his requisite backflip and Fortnite dances as the cameras ate it up.
“It is the Takeover, the Takeover has begun,” he asserted to Bernard Osuna after the assasination attempt.
Hey, Bob Arum, Lopez has some kind of power, yes?
“Scary,” the birthday boy, celebrating his 87th year on Earth, said.
More quotes from Lopez: ”I knew he was a tough fighter. I knew he could fight. I wanted to test him, and I took a chance early in the fight. I know he trained hard, and he didn't want it to go that way. But this is ‘The Takeover.' ‘The Takeover' has begun.”
“In 2019, I will be a world champion. That's a guarantee.”
“We're in the stage of my career where we can change boxing and bring it back. You all haven't seen anything like me in a long time.”