Isaac Dogboe sent a clear message of intent on Thursday that he wanted to prove a point on Saturday night when he fights Robisey Ramirez in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) championship belt.
The Ghanaian knows more than anyone else the journey back to the top after losing his WBO super bantamweight title five years ago. He was down but not out; he took time off the ring, got back his self-belief, hunger and motivation to work his way back to world title contention again.
On the night of April 1 when he steps into the ring at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Dogboe will have his focus on winning another world title almost five years since he dethroned Jesse Magdaleno to claim the WBO super bantamweight strap. Now he stands on the threshold to becoming a two-division world champion with Cuban Ramirez standing in his way.
It has taken 28-year-old Dogboe 1,421 days to get back into the grove since losing his title and failing to reclaim it from Emanuel Navarrete. During that period, including a year off the ring for self-examination, Dogboe changed his technical team and hired American trainers, Barry Hunter and Patrice Harris, to chart a new path in the super featherweight class. Now he is in no mood to drop his guard again.
“It’s taken me five years to get to this level, so there’s something to prove. I want to be remembered for something; April 1, that’s the mission,” says Dogboe about his date with destiny.
Today’s encounter promises to be a tough and exciting contest by two boxers who are both hungry for success. The Ghanaian comes into the fight with a record of 22 wins and two losses, with four straight victories against formidable opponents such as Chris Avalos, Adam Lopez, Christopher Diaz and Joet Gonzalez for a shot at the vacant WBO featherweight title.
Dogboe’s has learnt a lot from his losses to Navarrete and since turned his career around under his new trainers. But he is unfazed by facing a solid opponent who is highly rated after a remarkable amateur career as a two-time Olympic gold medallist. “I have a second chance now. I know that Robeisy is tough. He is a good fighter. But I know that we will come out with the victory on April 1.
“I’m always hopeful. If I say I’m going to do something, I’m always going to show up. I thank God for giving me that mental fortitude,” Dogboe said at the official press conference as he came face to face with his Cuban opponent on Thursday.
Ramirez, 29, gets his first shot a world title on the back of a record of seven wins and one loss, and will be looking to prove his worth in the professional ranks and add the WBO featherweight championship to his achievements.
Like Dogboe, Ramirez wants to seize this opportunity early in his career, promising to walk away from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino with the world title.
“This title opportunity means everything. We are ready. I’ve come to fight the best. And now we are here. When I say that I’m ready, it’s because I’ve passed through the process.
“So, the opportunity has come at the right moment. I am ready,” he said through an interpreter.
Since losing his pro debut, Ramirez has progressed steadily and is regarded as a master technician who is difficult to hit and also can counter-punch effectively. He will be looking to use his superior footwork and ring craft to keep Dogboe at bay and pick him apart with his accurate punches. However, the Cuban will need to be careful not to get drawn into a brawl with Dogboe, as this could play into the Ghanaian's hands.
Dogboe is a hard puncher who likes to dominate his opponents with his aggressive style and relentless pressure, and he will be seeking to do the same against Ramirez. He has shown that he has a good chin and can take a punch, but he will need to be careful not to get caught with too many clean shots by Ramirez.
The fight promises to be a thrilling affair, with both fighters known for their speed, agility, power. Some boxing pundits expect the fight to travel the full distance and believe Ramirez's superior footwork and ring craft could make the difference in the fight.
However, Dogboe has faced some tough opposition in his career so far and he is a ring warrior. If he does not expose his chin and get his defence right on Saturday night, the WBO belt could be on its way to Ghana with shouts of Ne-Ho! Ne-Ho!! from his corner and compatriots at ringside to celebrate another career milestone.
He knows too well that tonight is a moment of glory beckoning, and he will leave no stone unturned in his quest for victory.