Boxing champion and rising star Isaac Dogboe downplays royal lineage: 'I'm just my father's son'

Living in England, Isaac Dogboe understands belonging to a royal family brings to mind images of tea, rules of etiquette and a refined existence.

Dogboe’s royal ties to the king of Ghana’s Anlo state are far less delicate, which has served him well as a boxer.


“My people are warriors of the land. My great-grandfather was in World War II. But there are no more wars to be fought,” Dogboe said. “So now I channel that ancestry — that fighting spirit — into something, and boxing seems to be doing it.”

The 23-year-old Dogboe (19-0, 13 knockouts) makes his first defense as the World Boxing Organization super-bantamweight champion Saturday night in Glendale, Ariz., when he meets Japan’s Hidenori Otake (31-2-3, 14 KOs) in the co-main event of an ESPN-televised card.

Wearing a necklace of orange-hued stones called a dzonu, which is a symbol of protection as well as African culture, Dogboe explained that his father and trainer, Paul Dogboe, serves as one of four chiefs responsible for protecting his grandfather’s cousin, paramount king Togbe Sri III, who is in his 80s.

“My father is an heir to the throne,” Dogboe said. “I’m just my father’s son …”

That’s a substantial position, given that Paul Dogboe brought his son from Ghana to England when he was 8 and fostered the boy’s boxing career.

“I had put him in a soccer school in Ghana first, then integrated him to England into another soccer academy, but I felt he was too strong on the pitch … running around like a headless chicken while they wanted tall players,” Paul Dogboe said of his son, who stands 5 feet 21/2.

“I have background in hand-to-hand combat in the British army … I learned martial arts and became an expert in using the body’s anatomy to fight. So I started teaching him techniques and head movement … with that height, I knew he had to be skillful and have power.”

In April, Isaac revealed that and more when he rose from the canvas following a first-round knockdown and stopped Jessie Magdaleno by 11th-round technical knockout during their WBO title fight in Philadelphia.

“I know that when there is no light, that’s where God shines his light,” Isaac said. “So when people doubt me and write me off, that’s when I rise above, beyond the imagination. I knew where I was going and what I was capable of.”

Veteran boxing promoter Bob Arum is impressed, comparing Dogboe to retired countryman and former two-division world champion Azumah Nelson at Thursday’s news conference.

Though Arizona’s Gila River Casino Arena is a humble place for Dogboe to perform, Arum said he’ll work to strike an extended contract with the fighter should he produce another successful showing Saturday. A victory could pave the way for 122-pound unification fights against fellow champions Rey Vargas, Daniel Roman and TJ Doheny.

“Azumah Nelson proved that if a guy can fight and he’s got a personality, it doesn’t matter where he’s from,” said Arum, who’s taken by Dogboe’s “tremendous personality and the fact he’s a great fighter who dealt with adversity … so far what I’ve seen is terrific.”

Dogboe furthered his reputation with confidence and wit, explaining he respects Otake as a strong, well-conditioned man, “but if by 37 you’re not a world champion and you think you’re coming to beat me and take a title that God has assigned to me, there’s no way that is happening.”

Otake, fighting to become Japan’s oldest world champion and negate a title defeat to Scott Quigg in 2014, told media “I’m going to fight for my soul.” Dogboe replied, “I have no need for his soul. I’m going to knock him out.”


MAYER ON CARD: U.S. Olympian Mikaela Mayer (6-0) will follow Dogboe in a women's super-featherweight bout scheduled for six rounds against Hungary’s Edina Kiss (14-7).

The move to 130 pounds is part of a push to get Mayer a world title, then proceed toward popular lightweight champion Katie Taylor of Ireland.

“I want to capture a title at 130 and then it’ll make it a marketable bout at 135,” said Mayer, who hopes to fight again Oct. 13 on the undercard of a yet-to-be-finalized welterweight title defense by unbeaten champion Terence Crawford against Jose Benavidez in Nebraska.

VALDEZ EXAM: Unbeaten featherweight champion Oscar Valdez, who announced earlier this month that he’s aligned with Canelo Alvarez’s trainer, Eddy Reynoso, instead of Norwalk-based Manny Robles, is due to undergo a physical next week to establish if his broken jaw has recovered enough to allow an early winter return to the ring.

Arum said Valdez, after breaking the jaw in a bloody March 10 title defense against Quigg, likely would land a tune-up fight by January if cleared, with another possible 2019 bout against former champion Carl Frampton.


Main Event: Ray Beltran (35-7-1, 21 KOs) vs. Jose Pedraza (24-1, 12 KOs) for Beltran’s WBO lightweight belt.

When: Saturday

Where: Gila River Casino Arena, Glendale, Ariz.

Television: ESPN, televised portion begins at 7:30 p.m. Pacific.

Undercard: Isaac Dogboe (19-0, 13 KOs) vs. Hidenori Otake (31-2-3, 14 KOs) for Dogboe’s WBO super-bantamweight belt; Mikaela Mayer (6-0, three KOs) vs. Edina Kiss (14-7, eight KOs), super-featherweights.