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Andres Cortes has sights on Emanuel Navarrete, Shakur Stevenson, Oscar Valdez in 2023

Andres Cortes returns Friday, and is targeting the big names this year.

Andres Cortes returns Friday, and is targeting the big names this year
Andres Cortes returns Friday, and is targeting the big names this year
Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

Andres Cortes will return to action on this Friday’s Top Rank card, facing Luis Melendez on the prelims of the Navarrete vs Wilson show in Glendale, Ariz., and says that while he’s not looking past that fight, he and his team do have their sights set on bigger names in 2023.

“I’m excited for this opportunity to showcase my skills against a seasoned fighter like Melendez,” said Cortes. “He’s a young, hungry fighter with a lot of heart. He’s never been stopped and has nothing to lose. I believe that I have what it takes to come out on top, and I’m ready to prove it to the world.”

The 24-year-old Melendez (17-2, 13 KO) was last seen in May 2022, losing a majority decision to Eduardo Ramirez in Brooklyn, but had a solid win over Thomas Mattice in late 2021 on another Top Rank card, and is the sort of tricky opponent who can trip up a fighter like Cortes (18-0, 10 KO).

That said, the 25-year-old Cortes has put in good work on Top Rank undercards the last couple of years, and is steadily moving his way up the ladder at 130.

“I’ve been working hard and improving with every fight,” he added. “My main focus is on Melendez, its not going to be an easy fight, but I’m coming out victorious. I’m ready to take on the best in the division and prove that I belong among the elite fighters. I’m not afraid of anyone, I believe in my abilities, and I know that I can beat any fighter in the division.”

Luis Cortes, Andres’ brother, manager, and trainer, said they wanted to be the ones to replace Oscar Valdez in Friday’s matchup with Emanuel Navarrete, a call that instead went to Liam Wilson.

“We are on a mission to fight the best in the world,” said Luis. “We sought to replace Valdez for the Navarrete fight, but his team chose the easier unknown Australian guy. Emanuel Navarrete, Oscar Valdez, Shakur Stevenson, or any other big name, we want them all in 2023. Melendez is going to be a tough fight and that is where our focus is. But I want to let it be known that we feel we are ready for anyone in the division.”

It should be noted that Navarrete and Valdez were set to meet for the WBO’s vacant title at 130 lbs, and with that belt still on the line, Navarrete and Top Rank had to find the next available and willing ranked contender. Wilson is ranked No. 3 contender by the WBO — behind Archie Sharp and Valdez — while Cortes is not in their top 15, which means he was never in the running to be considered for that fight with the belt at stake.

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