For decades Top Rank Boxing has brought us some of the best fights in the history of the sport. The latest edition of bouts from the long running promotion company proves Top Rank is still tops.
Based in Las Vegas, this Bob Arum brainchild continues to bring elite cards to pugilism fans everywhere.
The last installment of Top Rank Boxing was held in Philadelphia Saturday night and it did not disappoint. An undercard featuring the hottest boxing prospect there is, Olympic medalist Shakur Stevenson was followed up by a hard hitting main card that included three fantastic matches in three different weight classes.
An all-Philly battle between big boys Bryant Jennings and Joey Dawejko for the Pennsylvania Heavyweight Title kicked things off. Super middleweights Demond Nicholson and Jesse Hart, son of “Cyclone” Hart, followed in a championship tilt for the NABF Title. Then it was main event time, as super bantamweights Isaac Dogboe and Jessie Magdaleno met for the WBO World Title. Quite the trifecta. Often fights don’t live up to their billing. But, like it is so often the case on Top Rank Boxing, these three exceeded the hype.
The most recent Top Rank Boxing battles harkened us back to the excitement this franchise is famous for. Top Rank Boxing has featured mega-bouts over the years like Hagler vs. Leonard, Leonard vs Hearns, Hagler vs Hearns, Holyfield vs Foreman, and even Ali vs Frazier II. These battles are etched in the minds of boxing fans forever. For those who don’t know it, there are some excellent young fighters that are worthy of our attention in 2018. Isaac Dogboe and Jessie Magdaleno are on that list.
After Jennings earned a unanimous decision over Dawejko and Hart dropped Nicholson with a 7th round TKO, the little guys took center stage. A fired up crowd made plenty of noise during the two previous match-ups, both spirited contests. Now, they were in for a real treat in the grand finale.
The hallmark of what makes boxing fun is the lead-up to big fights. Ali and Tyson were great in the ring, but the verbal shots they took at their opponents were just as potent. The trash talking pumped up fans and promoted not only their particular bouts but the fight game in general. Today we have some fresh faces that can flap their gums with the best of them and back it up inside the ropes. Along with Regis Prograis, who may be the most exciting boxer today, Dogboe and Magdaleno know how to use their mouths just as well as their fists.
Before these 120-something pounders met in the ring, they met in the press. It was less than friendly. Dogboe called Magdaleno “the worst champion ever” despite his 25-0 record coming in. Magdaleno went after Dogboe’s appearance saying the man from Ghana looks like “an alien” and despite his very pretty 18-0 record, he’s “dog ugly”. The two sparred over social media and even brought children into the conversation. Then things really heated up when Dogboe’s dad and trainer, Paul Dogboe weighed in. The elder Dogboe said his son would “devour” Magdaleno, the “crazy chicken”. Isaac’s pop went on to pop off saying after the fight the Dogboes would “throw (Magdaleno) over the wall of Mexico and present the title to Donald Trump”. Now fighting out of Vegas, Magdaleno is originally from Mexico.
With all the talking blows and counters leading up to the actual contest, this fight had all the warmth and fuzziness of Ali-Frazier. Chicken, alien, gorilla–pick your insult. The groundwork was laid for a nasty battle. And battle they did.
The fight between these unbeatens almost went the full 12 rounds and featured almost everything. Dogboe hit the deck in Round 1, the first time he’d ever been knocked down. He returned the favor, dropping Magdaleno in the 5th, the first time he’d ever tasted the canvass.
Both men recovered. But Dogboe went on to attack Magdaleno with body shots galore and some pulverizing right hands to the skull. Then in the 11th the Dogboe onslaught was just too much, as he knocked down Magdaleno twice in that stanza. After the second knock down of the round and third of the fight, the bout was stopped and Dogboe became the youngest world champ in Ghana’s history.
After all the bad blood and personal attacks the two fighters hugged when the match ended. In classic boxing etiquette, even these bitter rivals respected each other for their in-ring toughness. Perhaps they will meet again.
Boxing isn’t the top sport it used to be in this country. It will never get back to that magical status it enjoyed for so long. But Top Rank Boxing shows us there is plenty to cheer about in the ring nowadays. Talented, entertaining fighters are showing their stuff to the world each and every week. So regardless of whether Dogboe and Magdaleno have a rematch, it is highly recommended that those who may have strayed from boxing over the years have a rematch with the sport they once loved. The Haglers, Leonards, and Hearnses of today are waiting for you.
Follow Kevin Scholla on Twitter @kevinscholla