Saturday night is a night of choices for fight fans. UFC? Bellator? Jarrett Hurd on Fox? ESPN also has their own offering featuring a pair of very exciting and intriguing rematches. Top Rank on ESPN airs live this Saturday, May 11 with a fight time of 10:00 p.m. ET. Here’s what you can expect from the featured fights.
Miguel Berchelt (35-1; 31 KO) vs. Francisco Vargas (25-1-2; 18 KO)
Super Featherweight (130 lbs.) - 12 rounds
The main event is a rematch from 2017, and it’s quite a rematch indeed. The first time these men met, they turned in a classic fight, one that earned considerable Fight of the Year talk in a year with some very strong candidates. Berchelt took home the win there, using an aggressive and punishing style to earn the 11th round TKO win. The time since has only seen Berchelt’s skills grow. He’s 4-0 since with good wins in there. He’s now the WBC champ and the division’s #1 fighter. His lone loss back in 2014 feels like ancient history. For Vargas, the loss has definitely been damaging. He’s only fought twice since - he has won both, but is now coming in off a year long layoff. The Berchelt fight was the culmination of an absolutely brutal trilogy for Vargas. Wars against Takashi Miura, Orlando Salido, and Berchelt are the kind of fights that earn you massive fan appeal but also take years off your career - for Vargas to have those three back to back to back in a 14 month span is brutal, and it’s no wonder he’s been somewhat quiet since. He’s still ranked #4 in the division, so far from wiped out, but there’s definitely a fear that he could age quickly with another war. Stylistically, this reminds me of the great Alvarado vs. Rios fights from a few years back - two opponents who it almost seems are destined to go to war, even if it takes something serious from both. Berchelt is the rightful favorite here, and I suspect he improves on his performance from last time, but I also suspect Vargas makes it a hell of a ride along the way.
Prediction: Miguel Berchelt, UD
Emanuel Navarrete (26-1; 22 KO) vs. Isaac Dogboe (20-1; 14 KO)
Super Bantamweight (122 lbs.) - 12 rounds
The first fight between these two men came just 5 months ago in December. There, they met in a much anticipated fight on the Lomachenko vs. Pedraza card. Dogboe came in the definite A side - he was the WBO champ, and the prospect many were talking about as a must-watch (myself included). But Navarrete shut that down, refusing to be intimidated by Dogboe’s reputation, and simply outboxing him on his way to a clear decision win. Neither man has fought since. So the question here is simple - is Navarette truly the better fighter, or was he simply the better fighter that night? Did he capitalize on an underprepared Dogboe, or were we too caught up in the hype and too dismissive of Navarette as he made his US debut? This rematch will go a long way towards providing those answers. And for Dogboe in particular, it’s an absolute must-win. Reclaim his belt here, and he’ll be back in the division’s upper echelon and regain his status as a key prospect. Lose, and he’ll find it a very long road indeed to regain that form. Dogboe says he underestimated Navarrete last time out, and I tend to believe him. But I am well aware I may end up with egg on my face again.
Prediction: Isaac Dogboe, UD