SAN DIEGO, California, May 10, 2019 – Boxing fans who didn’t quench their thirst for ring action last weekend in Las Vegas will get what they’re looking for this Saturday at another desert venue, the Tucson Arena in Tucson, Arizona.
Four offense-minded fighters meet in two world championship rematches live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes. In the main event, Miguel “El Alacran” (The Scorpion) Berchelt of Mexico (35-1, 31 KOs) gives Francisco “El Bandido” Vargas” of Mexico (25-1-2, 18 KOs) his long-awaited opportunity to win his former WBC Super Featherweight title back.
In the co-main event, Emanuel Navarrete of Mexico (26-1, 22 KOs) defends his WBO Junior Featherweight title for the first time against the man he took it from in December, Isaac Dogboe of Ghana (20-1, 14 KOs).
Guerra guaranteed between Berchelt and Vargas
Miguel Berchelt and Francisco Vargas are walking definitions of the all-action, aggressive ring offensive style preferred by the classic Mexican boxer. Put two in a ring together, and fans are guaranteed to see fists fly. Vargas, age 34, takes pride in being part of several Fights of the Year, first against Takashi Miura in 2015, and again in 2016 against Orlando Salido.
Vargas took his first loss against Berchelt in January 2017, and it seemed the accumulated punishment from many rounds of battle finally caught up with him. Vargas was stopped in the 11th round, bleeding from multiple cuts. Since his first loss, he’s had two successful stoppage wins, neither against anyone as formidable as Berchelt. Vargas says he’s been patient, and he’s more than ready to go.
“I’ve been waiting for this fight for two years and now it’s finally here,” said Vargas. “It’s going to be a war.
“I did a few different things in preparation for this fight. I worked on different strategies, but we’ll see how the fight goes. You know, when two Mexicans get into the ring, they leave everything behind. My goal is to reclaim the world title,” vowed Vargas.
Boxing gets down to the basics
Take a look back at the first fight in 2017 with this recap to remind yourself what you’ll see on Saturday.
Berchelt has defended the title successfully four titles, including a dominating 12 round decision over Takashi Miura, and three TKO victories, including a win over Miguel Roman in November. The 27-year-old Berchelt promises he’ll deliver an exciting show.
“Vargas and I fought a great fight back in 2017, and our 2019 rematch will be no different. We are proud Mexican warriors who leave it all in the ring. You will see the same ‘Alacran’ from the first fight with Vargas. I will enter the ring with a lot of desire to win and defend my title. I will defend this belt with everything that I have. This belt belongs to me,” said Vargas
Vargas says his strategy will not change, seeing Vargas as a problem to solve. “I will give all my heart to this battle. Every time the ‘Alacran’ fights, it’s a guarantee that the fans will see a knockout.” With an 86 percent knockout rate, it’s close to a true statement.
Boxing doesn’t get any more basic. Some might call it pure. Forget the idea of any finesse or tactical defense. These guys see themselves as warriors, willing to eat a punch to score a harder counterpunch. They won’t give up until they are stopped for their own good.
Fans love guys like Berchelt and Vargas, but eventually, they reach the point of their careers where they have absorbed too much punishment. The two have fought nearly the same amount of professional rounds: 140 for Vargas, 137 for Berchelt. Vargas is seven years older than Berchelt, and his conditioning will be a question mark. For Vargas, he’s got to avoid getting cut from punches or headbutts to give himself the opportunity to take his title back. He must surely know his career is near an end. It may fuel his determination. Berchelt’s only loss to Luis Eduardo Florez in 2015 by first-round TKO is also the only time he’s been knocked down.
Both fighters made weight at the 130 pound super featherweight limit.
Dogboe hopes to regain momentum against Navarrete
Isaac Dogboe, born in Ghana and now living and training in Great Britain, won many fans over with his cheerful charm and punching power. After mowing down multiple opponents, it seemed a shock when a determined challenger not originally expected to give him much trouble handed him a loss last December. Emanuel Navarrete of Mexico (26-1, 22 KOs) did his nation’s boxing tradition proud, taking the fight to Dogboe (20-1, 14 KOs), roughing him up and breaking his nose in a wild fight, winning by unanimous decision to become the WBO junior featherweight champion.
It was such a good fight, both parties didn’t hesitate to agree to an immediate rematch.
“It was a surreal moment when they announced me as the new champion,” admitted Navarrete. “I was very happy to meet my goal, and now I am ready to defend the title successfully. It motivates me to know that the first fight was so good that everyone wants an immediate rematch … I’m going to try and give the fans a big knockout win.”
The effervescent Dogboe says he’s ready for revenge. “Navarrete couldn’t knock me out when I was at my worst, and now am I at my best. I am a much more fit boxer this time around, and it is my mission to become world champion once again. The ‘Royal Storm’ is back,” declared Dogboe.
Saying the Tuscon fans are ‘tremendous,’ Dogboe said he knew they would be rooting for his opponent. “I know a lot of Mexican fans will be in attendance to see Navarrete, but I am coming for my title. He’s a nice guy and a great champion, but this is about redemption for me. I am ready to go to war.”
A repeat performance from Navarrete won’t be a surprise
Dogboe is just 5-foot-2, with a 64 inch reach; Navarrete is on the tall side for a junior featherweight at 5-7, with a 72 inch reach Dogboe can’t fight at distance, and says he doesn’t want to. Navarrete rarely stops opponents with one punch power, but he piles on the damage until his opponents are in such deep water they’ll never make it back to shore. Unless Dogboe makes some significant adjustments, Navarrate will prove his initial victory was less of a surprise than everyone believed.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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