In an all-action fight, Isaac Dogboe knocked out Cesar Juarez in the fifth round to win a vacant interim junior featherweight world title on Saturday at the Bukom Boxing Arena in Accra, Ghana, in the first notable boxing match of 2018.
Fighting in front of a raucous hometown crowd, Dogboe dominated the bout against the most significant opponent of his career. He knocked Juarez down twice en route to the stoppage victory.
The fight opened with Juarez and Dogboe going right at each other in an action-packed round. With a little less than two minutes to go in the second round, Dogboe connected with a crackling left hook to Juarez's chin and knocked him down. He beat the count but was a bit unsteady, and Dogboe spent most of the rest of the round pounding Juarez, who somehow finished it on his feet.
They continued to brawl at a fast pace, but it was Dogboe (18-0, 12 KOs), 23, who was getting the better of the action against Juarez, who could not land anything significant.
In the fifth round, Dogboe landed another huge left hook on the chin that sent Juarez crashing to the mat on his backside. He beat the count and was not steady on his feet, which caused referee Tony Weeks to stop the fight at 2 minutes, 12 seconds. Dogboe has knocked out four of his past five opponents.
The stoppage drew the ire of the Juarez camp. Manager Sean Gibbons railed against Weeks.
"It's embarrassing. Tony Weeks must have never watched a Cesar Juarez fight," Gibbons said. "Cesar got hurt like normal. He was down, he got up. He was very clear. A normal thing for a referee to do is to step, look at guy, ask him please, 'Are you OK? Step to me.' Tony Weeks jumped on Cesar Juarez like he was going to die in the ring. We're very disappointed.
"This is the man that [refereed] the [legendary Diego] Corrales-[Jose Luis] Castillo fight [in 2005]. The Tony Weeks that did the fight tonight -- there never would have been a Castillo-Corrales. That's how Cesar Juarez fights. That's what he does. He gets hurt, he gets knocked down, and he fights. Tony Weeks, [we are] very disappointed."
The fight was the second chance for Juarez (20-6, 15 KOs), 26, of Mexico, to fight for a title. In December 2015, he gave then-junior featherweight world titlist Nonito Donaire a very tough fight but ultimately lost a unanimous decision in one of that year's most exciting fights.
Juarez had been due for a mandatory fight against 122-pound world titleholder Jessie Magdaleno on Nov. 11 at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California, on the undercard of a Top Rank ESPN card. However, Magdaleno pulled out of the bout claiming that he had a wrist injury, so the interim title bout was sanctioned while he healed.
Magdaleno (25-0, 18 KOs), of Las Vegas, will be obligated to face Dogboe, although he will first defend his title on March 10 on a Top Rank ESPN card at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. Dogboe said he is looking forward to facing Magdaleno after that.
"Jessie Magdaleno, I'm coming for you, baby! I am coming for you, Jessie Magdaleno," Dogboe said in the ring. "I know you're going to run, but guess what? The lion is here, the lion is around, the warrior from Africa!"