Greatness isn’t measured by the ability to stay on your feet. It is measured by rising as many times as you fall.
Legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi perhaps had pugilists in mind when he said “it’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up”.
Boxing is littered with Hall of Famers whose records reflect defeat at various points in their careers. Defeat can be devastating in boxing but the ability to bounce back is what separates the champions from the greats.
It is unfair, disrespectful even, to mention Emmanuel Navarrete when talking about Isaac Dogboe but it’s difficult to skip the Mexican, especially in a preview for a fight involving the Ghanaian. The back-to-back defeats in those super bantamweight showdowns were brutal, hard to watch at times but to his credit, Dogboe has taken steps towards redemption. Such experiences either break you or make you.
“The loss to Navarrete is a phase for me to do some learning and for me to start being in my own lane. It really broadened me in my learning of this sport of boxing,” Dogboe has said.
He’ll get the chance to show just how much he’s learned in what many consider to be his toughest test after 2019. A TKO and majority decision victory against Chris Avalos and Adam Lopez respectively suggest he’s on track but Christopher Diaz could prove to be a major setback unless the Ghanaian brings the full force of his experience in those two defeats to bear on Saturday night.
Navarrete, the common denominator
It’s not only Dogboe who counts Navarrete among his nemesis. Diaz succumbed to a 12th round stoppage against the Mexican in April. The Puerto Rican had some success in the early rounds but an uppercut in the fourth put him on his backside and signaled what was to come. The end, preceded by two knockdowns in the eighth via vicious uppercuts, came in the 12th round. To his credit, Diaz landed some hard shots and showed a lot of heart.
Against most opponents, Diaz would have walked away victorious, and convincingly so, but Navarrete gave him a mountain to climb in every round by the sheer amount of punches he threw – 744 over 12 rounds. Diaz threw 706. 241 of Navarrete’s punches that found their mark were power punches.
It’s difficult to outwork boxers like Navaratte: he walks through your biggest shots and takes you into deep waters. Fights against Shakur Stevenson required brains. The American forces you to think, and in 2019 he took Diaz to school in a dominant performance. The Puerto Rican’s redemption was on track after victories against Adeilson Dos Santos and Jason Sanchez but the Navarette defeat put a spanner in his works.
Dogboe’s redemption nearly suffered its own setback as Adam Lopez rallied in the second half of their fight in June after the former super bantamweight champion faded out. It raised questions about the Ghanaian’s conditioning, and if he can maintain the intensity with which he starts fights, he’ll take a step closer to becoming a two-time world champion.
Finding power to unsettle Diaz would be the least of Dogboe’s worries. His opponent’s lack of head movement is a weakness in his repertoire he can capitalize on despite going in as the smaller man. Dogboe’s smaller frame also allows him to do damage with body punches.
Defeat will be far more crushing for Diaz than Dogboe. It’s one thing to lose against Navarette and Stevenson, and this is by no means disrespect to Dogboe, but back-to-back defeats will confirm that Diaz does not belong, at least among the elite of the division.
You suspect plenty of lessons have been learned in defeats by both men because there’s always a lesson when you come up short against better men, against the best. Navarrete and Shakur are at the top. This fight is about who uses his opponent as a stepping stone to get close to the top.
It’s all or nothing.