PHILADELPHIA — The trash talk between Jessie Magdaleno and Isaac Dogboe was intense and personal before their fight Saturday night, but it was Dogboe who reigned supreme by scoring the knockout he predicted.
In a grueling and physical fight, Dogboe rallied from a first-round knockdown to drop Magdaleno three times in an 11th-round knockout victory to win a junior featherweight world title before 3,727 Saturday night in the main event of the Top Rank on ESPN card at the Liacouras Center on the campus of Temple University.
Magdaleno, making his second title defense, was fighting for the first time in a year, partly because of a hand injury that forced him to withdraw from a mandatory fight with Cesar Juarez that was scheduled for Nov. 11. While he was out, Juarez traveled to Dogboe’s home country of Ghana in January and got knocked out in a vacant interim title fight that made Dogboe the mandatory challenger for Magdaleno.
Dogboe called Magdaleno “the worst world champion ever” and said he would knock him out cold and make his son cry. Magdaleno belittled Dogboe’s skills and said he looked like “an alien” and that he was “dog ugly.”
It was Dogboe who made Magdaleno eat his words by delivering the knockout — albeit not out cold — in a tremendous battle that looked as if it might be over early when Magdaleno scored a first-round knockdown.
After the fight, the bad blood had washed away. Magdaleno gave Dogboe credit for winning and wished him luck in the future.
“He was the better man tonight. He did what he had to do,” Magdaleno said. “The inactivity got to me, but I don’t want to take anything away from Isaac. He is a great warrior. He got a great opportunity, and he took it. I wish nothing but the best to him.”
Said Top Rank promoter Bob Arum: “Jessie said, ‘I didn’t feel weak, he was just the better guy tonight.’ Look how they talked to each other, and then after the fight he said he wishes him all the luck in the world. After the fight, everything was the height of sportsmanship. I’m very proud of these guys.”
Magdaleno had a huge first round. He dropped Dogboe with a left hand in the midst of a flurry, knocked him into the ropes with a left hand later in the round and landed several clean punches that shook Dogboe.
But Dogboe came back strong to take the title convincingly.
“We’re all fighters. We love each other. The pre-fight stuff was taken out of context,” Dogboe said. “This is a great feeling. [Hall of Famer] Azumah Nelson [of Ghana] did it, and now I can call myself a champion.
“First rounds are always dangerous, but I gathered myself and did what I had to do. I appreciate all the support, and I want to thank for my team for making this happen.”
A straight left hand rocked Dogboe in the third round, forcing him to hold onto Magdaleno, who seemed to rattle him with every solid shot he landed. By the fourth round, Dogboe’s left eye was swelling.
Dogboe (19-0, 13 KOs), 23, who was a 2012 Olympian for Ghana, came roaring back in the fifth round when he nailed Magdaleno with a clean right hand on the chin for a knockdown 30 seconds into the round. He had Magdaleno on the ropes and continued to pressure him, but Magdaleno got himself together and stuck out his chin at Dogboe to taunt him, after which Dogboe threw and missed several wild punches.
Dogboe came on strong in the middle rounds. In the seventh, he pinned Magdaleno along the ropes and unloaded to the head and body for a stretch as Magdaleno looked to cover up.
Dogboe hurt Magdaleno with a right hand along the ropes in the 10th round and then unleashed several more hard shots upstairs and downstairs. He continued to bull forward as Magdaleno tried to dance out of the way, but he kept getting caught.
Magdaleno (25-1, 18 KOs), a 26-year-old southpaw from Las Vegas, appeared to be fading in the 11th round when Dogboe crumpled him to all fours with a powerful left hand to the head. Dogboe showed no mercy, attacking him with abandon when the fight resumed. He pinned Magdaleno in the corner and continued to pound on him until he went down again, causing referee Benjy Esteves to wave the fight off at 1 minute, 38 seconds.
“I thought it was a hell of a fight,” Arum said. “He had a good reputation because he knocked out Juarez, and he proved that he was the goods. I thought the first round, when Jessie knocked him down, I thought, ‘Oh, s—, he’s going to get destroyed.’ But he got back into the fight, and he was winning the fight when he knocked Jessie out.”
Dogboe was ahead on all three scorecards at the time of the stoppage: 97-91, 96-91 and 95-93.
According to CompuBox statistics, Dogboe landed 172 of 530 punches (33 percent), and Magdaleno landed 104 of 383 (27 percent)
Arum says he believes Dogboe has a bright future because of his exciting style and that Magdaleno will come back strong.
“[Dogboe] will be an attraction because he’s an action fighter,” Arum said. “Jessie will take some time off, and we’ll put him back in probably at 126 [pounds]. We’re not giving up on Jessie. We think he has a good future.”