Emanuel Navarrete retained his WBO super bantamweight title tonight at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, dominating overmatched opponent Francisco De Vaca and stopping the previously unbeaten challenger in the third round.
Navarrete (28-1, 24 KO) came out of nowhere last December to upset Isaac Dogboe and win the 122-pound belt, and repeated with an even more dominant performance in their May rematch. Coming off of those wins, Navarrete was given something of a softer touch in De Vaca (20-1, 6 KO), who had an “0” but a fluffy record built fighting at home in Phoenix.
The 24-year-old De Vaca came in more unknown than anything, though, and there was a chance he might have surprised people, as Navarrete did nine months ago. But it just wasn’t there. De Vaca didn’t have the power to bother Navarrete, who charged forward and did consistent damage, dropping De Vaca in the second round and finishing him off with a third round barrage that ended when referee Raul Caiz Sr stopped the fight at 1:54.
Navarrete, 24, is now ready to make a very quick turnaround and return Sept. 14 as part of the Tyson Fury-Otto Wallin card in Las Vegas. It’s a good spot for Navarrete, who has some star potential as a Mexican fighter with an aggressive style.
“He is Mexican, he’s proud to be Mexican. Sept. 14 is Mexican Independence weekend, and the best fighter in Mexico will be there defending his title,” Bob Arum confirmed after the bout, but we’ve got no opponent named. Given the card is in four weeks, don’t expect much more than we saw tonight.
Jessie Magdaleno TD-9 Rafael Rivera
As usual, Rivera (27-4-2, 18 KO) was around but not what you’d really call “competitive,” as he was largely outclassed by Magdaleno (27-1, 18 KO), a former world titleholder at 122, now 2-0 since a move up to 126 earlier this year.
Magdaleno had to settle for a technical decision, a result of a blatant elbow from Rivera in the ninth round, which opened up a bad-bleeding cut on Magdaleno’s eyelid. Rivera had gone down earlier in the round, and scores were 88-82, 89-81, and 89-81 for Magdaleno. BLH had it 88-82 and 89-81 for Magdaleno, as well.
“It’s part of the sport. He’s an aggressive fighter. He’s a strong warrior, it happens. This is boxing, it’s what we signed up for,” Magdaleno said when asked if he thought the foul was intentional.
Magdaleno also said he felt good in the ring, five months after returning with a 10-round win over Rico Ramos.
“I felt great. I felt strong, I felt better than ever,” he told Crystina Poncher. “I took off the ring rust and we came in here and fought smart. We knew he was going to come forward, so we put our boxing shoes on and outboxed him.”
Magdaleno didn’t name anyone specific, but has his eyes set on a big fight next time out.
“The world title. We’re ready,” he said. “You seen it tonight. We’re ready for whoever’s next. I want them all, it don’t matter.”
The cut will take time to heal, of course, meaning Magdaleno may be out longer than he’d really like, but he’s in a position to face someone good when he returns. Hopefully we see that. At 27, he’s right in what should be his prime.
Elvis Rodriguez TKO-1 Jesus Gonzales
Quick work for Rodriguez (3-0-1, 3 KO), who dropped Gonzales (6-3, 2 KO) twice and finished things at 1:42. Rodriguez, trained by Freddie Roach, is a 23-year-old Dominican prospect at 140 who will surely be on plenty more of these prelims for a bit as he gets his experience. So far, so good — the blemish on his record was a technical decision on June 28 when his opponent got cut on an accidental headbutt in the first round.
Arnold Barboza Jr RTD-4 Ricky Sismundo
Barboza (22-0, 9 KO) is a 27-year-old junior welterweight, somewhere between prospect and contender, waiting for at test. Last time out he shredded the withering remains of Mike Alvarado, and here he battered Sismundo (35-15-3, 17 KO), who was once a pretty good prospect checker but at 32 with 50+ pro fights, has started to fade badly. But Barboza did what a guy looking to be legit should do with this matchup, he took it to Sismundo and dominated. Ricky looked shaky by the second round and gave it up after four, rightly so.
Janibek Alimkhanuly TKO-5 Stuart McLellan
Well, if you’re new to boxing and you wanted to see what it looks like when a rural club fighter faces a legitimate prospect, this fit the bill. McLellan (27-4-3, 11 KO) came down from Williams Lake, British Columbia, in order to be served up to Alimkhanuly (7-0, 3 KO), who dropped the Canadian twice and finished things at 2:51 of the fifth round when the referee finally stopped the mismatch, just as McLellan’s corner was ready to give it up, too. McLellan tried — he had some kind of idea about baiting Alimkhanuly into the corner, but Alimkhanuly pretty much refused to go for it and dominated the action. Alimkhanuly isn’t a superstar prospect at 160, but he’s a good prospect.
Chris van Heerden UD-8 Aslanbek Kozaev
They kept saying it was going to be hard to score, but it wasn’t — van Heerden, winner on scores of 78-74, 79-73, and 79-73, really controlled the vast majority here, and the judges got it right. van Heerden (28-2-1, 12 KO) is what he is, a solid southpaw welterweight, and Kozaev (33-3-1, 8 KO) was tailor made for him in many respects, a short, short-armed, compact built guy without much real power. So van Heerden was able to style on him. That doesn’t mean it was easy — both guys wound up with a pair of cuts and it was an entertaining fight, with Kozaev constantly giving good effort though a bit outclassed. van Heerden is 32, he’s not going to suddenly become a world class contender for real, but he’s hanging around and remains in the fish bowl for Terence Crawford at some point.
Javier Molina UD-8 Manuel Mendez
Molina (20-2, 8 KO) was a US Olympian in 2008, but his pro career hasn’t been much, honestly. There’s just no real second gear with him — he’s had losses to Artemio Reyes in 2011 and Jamal James in 2016, and he moved down to 140 from 147 last year after a lengthy break following the James loss. But while he’s 3-0 since doing so, there still doesn’t seem to be anything special about him. Solid, competent fighter, but no real power, nothing to him that makes you think he’ll ever be a real contender. Mendez is now 16-6-3 (11 KO), losing his fourth straight. Scores were 78-74, 79-73, and 79-73.
Dmitry Yun UD-6 Javier Martinez
Yun (2-0, 0 KO) is a 25-year-old Uzbek lightweight who hasn’t exactly jumped off the screen in either of his first two pro bouts. Here, he got flash dropped twice by Martinez (4-7, 3 KO), a 36-year-old club fighter who boxed six times from 2000-04 and then not again until 2017. Yun had a long amateur career and is an Egis Klimas fighter, so on paper he seems interesting, but he might not be, really. He seems kind of rigid, and it would appear unlikely he has a high ceiling. Martinez got a couple points deducted for repeatedly losing his mouthpiece. Scores were 56-54, 57-54, and 57-54.