ESPN’s Salvador Rodriguez reports that after successfully becoming a two-weight world champion last October, Emanuel Navarrete will defend his WBO featherweight belt on April 24th against former super featherweight title challenger Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz.
The location and possibility of a live audience remain up in the air.
Navarrete (32-1, 27 KO) put together a rather lengthy but rather soft reign at 122 pounds, ultimately vacating last year following a beatdown of Jeo Santisima and subsequent stay-busy mauling of Uriel Lopez. Shakur Stevenson vacated his WBO featherweight title at around the same time, leaving “Vaquero” to face Ruben Villa for the belt and score two knockdowns en route to a competitive decision victory.
Puerto Rico’s Diaz (26-2, 16 KO) is 3-1 since an unsuccessful title bid against Masayuki Ito sent him from 126 pounds to 122. That loss came against Shakur Stevenson, while the most recent victory saw him take a comfortable decision over Jason Sanchez last June.
Not the best inaugural defense, but certainly better than the likes of Santisima and Francisco Horta. Diaz is Navarrete’s 5th-ranked contender; if “Vaquero” gets past him as expected, #1 Ryan Walsh is likely next.