Miguel Berchelt vs. Francisco Vargas
Emanuel Navarrete vs. Isaac Dogboe
By Bill Tibbs
This Saturday, May 11, Miguel Berchelt (35-1, 31 KO’s) and challenger Francisco Vargas (25-1-2, 18 KO’s) will lock horns for the 2nd go-round in the main event of a Top Rank promoted ESPN card at the Convention Centre in Tucson, Arizona.
Also on the docket is a rematch between WBO junior featherweight titleholder Emanuel Navarrete (26-1, 22 KO’s) and former titleholder Isaac Dogboe (20-1, 14 KO’s).
If these fights are a repeat of their first encounters then Arizona fight fans should be in line for a great night of boxing action.
Berchelt and Vargas first fought in January of 2017 in California in a ‘fight of the year’ war with Berchelt winning by 11th round TKO and picking up the WBC junior lightweight title. This will be title defense number 5 for Berchelt and he is looking to show his first fight with Vargas was no fluke. The challenger has won his last 2 fights but will have been out of the ring for over a year when they meet. However, Vargas, a former WBC super featherweight title holder, is looking to upset the champion and leave Arizona as a 2-time world champion.
Also on the card is a rematch of what could be a very interesting fight between Emanuel Navarrete and Isaac Dogboe. Their first fight was last December in New York City which Navarrete won by unanimous decision in war that saw the Ghana born, London residing then-champion Dogboe leave the ring beaten and bloodied.
Navarrete was relatively unknown having never fought outside of Mexico when he showed up in New York City for what many people felt would be another impressive title defense for the charismatic Dogboe who was coming into the fight off of 3 impressive stoppage wins in title fights. However, the relentless attack and non-stop aggression of the determined Navarrete ultimately wore down Dogboe and he left the ring having been seriously banged up over 12-rounds.
In recent interviews, both camps expressed their desire to leave Tucson with a title and it looks like it could be take 2 for some great, action bouts.
“It’s going to be a great fight,” said Berchelt. “Vargas throws punches all the time and he fights hard till the end, even if he is badly hurt. I know Vargas is a great warrior and I have to be at my best”, he said. And, Berchelt has worked hard to keep his title and it is clearly a feeling he doesn’t want to let go. “I knew all the time that I was going to win, it was the opportunity of a lifetime and I wasn’t going to let it go. It was the happiest moment of my career.”
While Vargas was very good in the first fight, trainer Joel Diaz knows good won’t cut it, he needs to be better this time around.
“To get the win Francisco knows he has to work extra hard, harder than the first one,” said Diaz. “He lost his title, for this one he needs to be very, very focused, needs to be solid, break down Berchelt with his experience. Berchelt is the younger fighter, physically, has good conditioning, so we have to be very smart, break him down early, take it to the later rounds,” he said.
And, in the Dogboe-Navarette rematch, that could see another all-action tilt, former champion Isaac Dogboe claims things will be much different this time around as he goes into the fight at his best, something he claims he certainly wasn’t the first time. Despite Dogboe picking up his first loss in the last bout, it certainly hasn’t affected his confidence.
“At my lowest point, Emanuel Navarrete couldn’t knock me out. I’m now at the peak of my fitness. Navarrete is going down,” Dogboe said. “The warrior is coming. NeHo. I’m coming to knock out Emanuel Navarrete. Emanuel Navarrete, I’m back to set the record straight,” he said.
But Navarette feels that the amped up Dogboe will be looking to initiate the warfare from the start and that could play right into his comfort zone.
"In the first fight with Dogboe, I think he was confident because maybe he saw me and felt that I’m not really a fighter but nobody looks at my body as being that of a boxer. Because I do not look like that but I feel very strong, I feel like that affected him a lot, when he could not hurt me and he started to decline," said Navarrete. "In the next fight, I think Dogboe will come in with more desire, he will want to make it more of a fight, but that is my comfort zone. They come to me and I take them in. I feel better when they come to me because I make them fail and I take advantage”, continued Navarrete."I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, because he’s a good puncher, he’s tough, it’s going to be difficult, but I think I will have a better chance of knocking him out," he said.