Saturday night on ESPN+ and ESPN, Emanuel Navarrete will return to defend his WBO featherweight title against Christopher Diaz.
Does Navarrete retain or will Diaz pull a shocker?
Scott Christ (24-7-2)
Christopher Diaz has to this point in his career been a nice, solid, second-tier fighter. Top Rank tried to get a 130 lb belt on him in 2018, but he wasn’t quite up to the task against Masayuki Ito. He moved down to 126 and Top Rank fed him to Shakur Stevenson as a Madison Square Garden showcase. He’s won a couple and now they’re sending him in against Navarrete, who is a good fighter everyone enjoys watching and is still mostly being handled with kid gloves.
Navarrete has good wins — Isaac Dogboe was a legit titlist, Ruben Villa is a legit good fighter — but this one seems closer to the De Vaca-Elorde-Horta-Santisima run of 2019-20 that had boxing dudes who like to pretend they were around in the 50s making heart eye emjois at the sheer ACTIVITY of it all. Diaz is not a bum, but I don’t think there’s anything he does that’s going to give Navarrete any serious trouble; he’s not as good a boxer as Villa, who did give Navarrete problems. Diaz will hang through the 12 rounds and nick two or three, but there won’t be an argument. Navarrete UD-12
Wil Esco (25-6-2)
Emanuel Navarrete has just been cruising along since winning his world title a few years ago, largely dominating his opposition. I see no real need for any of that to change here against an opponent in Christopher Diaz who I think is at least a clear level below Navarrete. Diaz has won two straight against lesser opposition since losing to Shakur Stevenson in 2019 but that streak ends here. I just think Navarrete is better in every department and while he might be inclined to play with his food for a few rounds, I think Navarrete eventually hands Diaz his first stoppage loss. Navarrete TKO-10
How to Watch Navarrete vs Diaz
Patrick L. Stumberg (24-7-2)
Christopher Diaz’s solid jab and counters could give Navarrete some issues, but as we saw with Ruben Villa, there’s a world of difference between giving “Vaquero” issues and actually beating him. Overcoming a significant power discrepancy and a ridiculous eight-inch reach disadvantage looks like far too tall a task for Diaz’s fundamentally sound but unspectacular offense; he hasn’t got the pop to keep Navarrete honest or the slickness to steer clear of that offbeat onslaught once Navarrete gets some momentum going.
Unless Navarrete can’t handle punches from featherweights, Diaz just doesn’t have the means to slow him down. Navarrete snowballs his way to a late stoppage. Navarrete TKO-10
Lewis Watson (26-5-2)
I don’t love this match-up, but that’s mainly due to my admiration of Navarrete. I want to see him stepped up a little further than Christopher Diaz with the argument of his insane activity always one that attempts to paper over the cracks of his opposition. Sure, this will be his eighth fight in under two years, but we need to see Navarrete in with one of the big dogs at 126. I guess there’s the argument to suggest he’s out to impress here after being made to work hard by Ruben Villa last October. Diaz is capable but I don’t think he’s got that pop to gain the respect of a swarming fighter like the champ. Navarrete could find the stoppage down the stretch, but I’ll plump for a wide-ish win on the cards. Navarrete UD-12