Top Rank Card Features Quality Mid-Level Bouts on ESPN+

By Chris Carlson - 07/21/2022 - Comments

This Saturday night, Top Rank staged a card that is topped by two interesting mid-level bouts in Joet Gonzalez vs. Isaac Dogboe and Giovanni Cabrera vs. Gabriel Flores Jr. Both fights have meaning for the winner.

As a reminder, the whole event will be streamed live on ESPN+. Ever since Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions started to place boxing on the main networks on a regular basis, the mid-level matchups got a significant boost in exposure. Once Top Rank scored a deal with ESPN, it only added to an essential part of the sport that, of course, was the mid-level fight.

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Before the network deals, HBO and Showtime mainly focused on several fighters and highlighted prospects turning the corner. Showtime’s ShoBox has a solid track record, no doubt but having a card once a month can only do so much, and that series generally is about the ‘Next Generation.’ Friday Night Fights shown on ESPN2 for the last chunk of years was very inconsistent. Not having any ties to fighters or promoters is challenging, as is having to stage a fight every week for a large portion of the year.

It’s something media members and fans would complain about for years not having enough closely-matched bouts regardless if one of the fighters or both are known to the public.

Let’s face it, the average ‘casual’ fan only knows a hand full of boxers anyway, so if they happened to stumble across a fight on FOX, NBC, or ESPN, a competitive scrap would likely keep them. The PBC has thrived in recent years at making mid-level bouts, and this Saturday night is an example of Top Rank hitting the target with two attractive bouts.

The co-feature plays as almost a crossroads fight even though it’s too early to say that for Gabriel Flores Jr., who not long ago was a hot prospect in the game. After losing two outings ago to Luis Alberto Lopez, Flores needs to make a statement to ensure he can stay on the path to becoming a legit contender.

His opponent Giovanni Cabrera is undefeated in 20 fights and earned a nice win over Rene Tellez Giron, the guy who had just pulled off an upset over then unbeaten Carlos Balderas. A win for Cabrera will further his case for being ranked higher.

Cabrera’s stance resembles that of a stereotypical European boxer, standing straight up at times, probably too flat-footed when he’s in punching range.

Giovanni does have an active jab and can use his feet to avoid punches but keeps his hands too low, much like Gabriel Flores Jr. Cabrera must mix up his punch variety and turn up his output in the form of combinations to help apply pressure on Flores.

Another troubling item is Cabrera not being all that fluid of a puncher at times, throwing arm punches, and falling into a punch pattern, if you will.

Flores Jr. must detect those patterns and make Cabrera pay with counters, especially with his left hook. Flores will have to up his work rate some as well and show the ability to hold his ground, even push back Giovanni in spots. Gabriel is susceptible to uppercuts and hooks, something Lopez was able to exploit.

The difference between Lopez and Cabrera is aggressiveness matched with hand speed and combination punching. Gabriel will have to improve on defense and not allow to be routinely backed into the ropes or corners to keep Cabrera from being able to set his feet to punch.

Flores must be first with his jab and then work from there, whether it’s landing counter shots on the move or staying in the pocket delivering power punches, then exit. This is a 50-50 fight on the betting books, and it should play out that way in the ring.

My Official Prediction is Gabriel Flores Jr. by Majority-Decision.

In the main event, Joet Gonzalez faces former titlist Isaac Dogboe on ESPN+. The betting odds have Dogboe as an underdog anywhere from +190 to +225, which is fairly good value. Backing up a bet would be wise based on the style, with Dogboe surely being the aggressor and Joet being the boxer.

Both men have faced Emanuel Navarrete, with each of them losing in competitive fights, besides the 2nd go round with Dogboe. After keeping it close, Navarrete was able to separate in the 2nd half, eventually getting the TKO stoppage on Dogboe. In the second half of Navarrete vs. Gonzalez, Joet gave Emanuel a run for his money and made this boxing podcaster think he may be better than I thought, even in a loss.

Dogboe will have to bring the pressure in the opening frames to establish both a lead on the card but also to make things uncomfortable for Joet. Isaac can’t let Gonzalez land his jab in the early goings nor give him much space to operate.

As previously stated, even if Joet gets off to a rocky start, he won’t be all that rattled and has proven he can get back into a fight. The only way to truly rattle Gonzalez is to hurt and drop Joet, which will put him in a defensive posture, possibly to the point of no return as far as scoring telling blows on offense. Look for the outcome to still be on the table in the last few rounds. If Joet can emulate what he did in the 2nd part of the Navarrete & versus Miguel Marriaga, he should be able to sneak out the victory.

My Official Prediction is Joet Gonzalez by Split-Decision.

Side Note: Keep your eyes peeled for a good matchup between William Foster and Avery Sparrow. Written by Chris Carlson, Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available at www.blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio. Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio

Last Updated on 07/22/2022