By Bill Tibbs
Choosing from the ‘Wow, I didn’t see that one coming’ file is always tough. If there was ever the theatre of the unexpected it is boxing. However, while we should never be surprised once the bell rings, there is often a favorite going into a fight that you would assume will find a way to win.
While there are a few that jump to mind for the 2018 boxing season (Eleider Alvarez stopping Sergei Kovalev in August in New Jersey or Jermell Charlo losing to Tony Harrison in December in Brooklyn come to mind), the one that really raised an eyebrow was unheralded Emanuel Navarrete’s win over undefeated, world champion Isaac Dogboe.
It wasn’t just gutting out a win, it was who he beat and when; coming into the fight the resume for both fighters couldn’t have been different.
Emanuel Navarrete was sporting a nice ledger at 25-1 but hadn’t fought outside of Mexico and didn’t have any names on his record that would catch anyone’s attention. If there was ever a run-of-the-mill guy, to fit the bill for Dogboe to shine in a title defense, Emanuel was that guy; unfortunately for Dogboe, Navarrete didn’t get the memo.
Isaac Dogboe entered the ring at Madison Square Garden about as hot as they come. He was undefeated (20-0, 14 KO’s) and had looked sensational in his professional run to this point. He started off the year by stopping rugged, veteran Cesar Juarez in Accra, Ghana in January. Then, he really turned heads when he KO’d undefeated champion Jesse Magdaleno to win the WBO world super bantamweight title in Philadelphia in April. He followed that up by absolutely blasting out Japanese challenger Hidenori Otake in Arizona in August in one round.
So, heading into his 2nd title defense in December, things were not looking good for Navarrete.
However, come fight night it was a different story with the determined Navarette simply beating Dogboe to the punch, and busting him up, round after round. By the later rounds in the fight, Dogboe was badly swollen and banged up and nobody would have argued if he’d been taken out of the fight. However, credit to a determined and gutsy Dogboe for finishing the bout. But, in the end, the work rate and effort of the unheralded Navrette got the job done in what was indeed an upset win.
Look for Dogboe to make a strong comeback, as he is a driven and determined fighter who will want to get back to the championship level as soon as he can. And, look for the tough and talented young champion Navarette to be taken very seriously next time he steps in the ring. They say winning a title automatically makes you a better fighter so Navarette may just emerge as a champion to keep an eye on.
Other award Maxboxing winners for 2018:
The "Timex- Keeps on Ticking" Award - Manny Pacquiao.
Senator Pacquiao will be 40 when he steps into the ring to face Adrien Broner in a few weeks. However, he looked like a young, fresh Philippine flash when he stopped former super lightweight and welterweight champion Lucas Matthyse in July. Lucas’ best days were behind him so maybe Manny had the right guy in front of him? But, the “Pac-Man” sure didn’t look 39 years old with almost 70 fights in the bank.
The comeback Fighter of the Year-Tyson Fury.
Out of the ring for 2 1/2 years battling obesity and serious mental health issues, Fury came back with 2 wins and a draw in a 6-month span this past year and won over a whole lotta fans in the process. His previous non-stop boasting was hard to take and, yes, he still has that in spades. But, he mixed it in with class and sportsmanship when he drew with the favored Deontay Wilder in December in a fight many felt Fury won. After the fight it was nothing but praise, respect and thanks to his opponent and the fans that supported him. Look for the rematch in 2019 to be even bigger as Tyson has already revved up the bashing banter towards Wilder.