Isaac Dogboe just became the latest major player in an already stacked super bantamweight division.
The unbeaten 23-year old made a major statement in his dismantling of Cesar Juarez, scoring two knockdowns en route to a 5th round stoppage Saturday evening at Bukom Boxing Arena in Accra, Ghana.
Juarez was dropped in rounds two and five, both times from left hooks to the jaw. The latter sequence prompted an immediate stoppage as ruled by referee Tony Weeks.
The bout was fought at a furious pace, a fitting tribute to the first title fight of 2018. Dogboe immediately took the fight to Juarez, a notorious slow starter who tends to get stronger as he gets deeper into a fight.
On the surface, it appeared to be a questionable tactic as Dogboe was the far superior technician who seemed to be playing into his opponent's hands. However, it was his pre-fight gameplan that went exactly as scripted.
"The only way to suppress your enemy is to let him know you are stronger than him," Dogboe (18-0, 12KOs) said of his strategy. We went straight at him and knew he would eventually break down."
Juarez closed the gap in round two, but his wide punches made for a vulnerable target. It was never clearer than when getting clipped with a clean left hook upstairs after landing three body shots on Dogboe. The shot to the chin sent Juarez to the deck, although he was able to beat the count.
It hardly discouraged Dogboe from slowing down his attack. A hailstorm of punches came raining down in a hectic round three, one where Juarez fell even deeper into a hole on the scorecards—not that the fight ever threatened to go the distance. Either, Juarez was going to break or Dogboe was going to run out of steam.
Juarez did his best to turn the tide and sap the energy out of Dogboe—and the rabid capacity crowd—in round four, easily his best of the brief affair. Tighter punches and a better job of cutting off the ring put the visiting Mexican boxer right back in the mix, or so he thought.
Dogboe erased all doubt in round five, going right back after his foe at the start of the frame before implementing lateral movement to mix up his attack. The brief gaps in action provided Juarez with a false sense of security that the worst was over.
He was very, very wrong.
In a move that was shades of Azumah Nelson—the legendary Hall of Famer and Dogboe's ring idol who was live in attendance—a deliberately stalled pace allowed Juarez to come forward thinking he was going to take over the fight. Instead, his night came to a crashing halt as Dogboe slammed home a left hook to his chin to put him down and—for all intent and purposes—out.
Juarez staggered to his feet but was clearly separated from his senses, resulting in an immediate stoppage. The official time was 2:03 of round five.
With the loss, Juarez falls to 21-5 (15KOs), coming up miserably short in his second career title bid. His first attempt resulted in a 2015 Fight of the Year contender of a war with Nonito Donaire, surviving two knockdowns only to come up short following a blazing finish.
There was no such rally here, as Dogboe insisted it was his destiny to close the show. His record now moves to 19-0 (12KOs), picking up a secondary version of the super bantamweight title currently held by Jessie Magdaleno. It was made perfectly clear which fight the Ghanaian next desired.
""Jessie Magdanelo, I'm coming for you baby," Dogboe said of the unbeaten titlist, who next defends March 10 versus a yet-to-be-named challenger. "I know you're going to run, but guess what; the lion is coming!"
If his performance on Saturday evening was any indication, the lion has already arrived.
Patrick Ferguson and Abraham Tabul both left the ring the same way they entered—undefeated, as their regional cruiserweight title clash ended in a split decision draw.
Neither fighter seemed to gain much momentum in their sloppy slugfest, although Ferguson appeared to have finished strong enough to have pulled out the win. Tabul had his moments early, but quickly faded and was winded by round eight.
In that regard, it turned out to be a good thing that the bout was shortened from 12 rounds to 10 prior to the opening bell. It didn't work out so well for Ferguson, a Washington-based prospect who had Tabul staggering around the ring—though perhaps more so through exhaustion than from any substantial punches landed—and likely would've closed the show if given two more rounds to complete the task.
The American was denied a road victory, although the manner in which the result was read left viewers baffled. None of the three official scores were revealed, with the ring announcer instead declaring that "the bout was too close to call and is therefore a split draw."
Ferguson failed to score a knockout for the first time in his career, although remains unbeaten as his record moves to 10-0-1 (10KOs). Tabul—who looked awfully sloppy in stepping way up in class after feasting on club-level opponents—is now 11-0-2 (10KOs).
Delali Miledzi (5-1, 4KOs) scored a minor upset in taking a six-round unanimous decision win over previously unbeaten Eliasu Sulley (7-1, 7KOs). Neither boxer had ever previously gone the distance in a pro bout, but their laboring super middleweight affair ultimately landed in the hands of the three judges who scored in favor of Miledzi by scores of 59-54 (twice) and 60-53.
All bouts aired live on GH One TV in Ghana, also streaming live and legal on the network's Facebook page. The main event will air via same-day delay on beIn Sports Español in North America.