Emanuel Navarrete and Liam Wilson square off Friday night on ESPN and ESPN+, with the vacant WBO 130 lb title up for grabs.
Navarrete has won titles at 122 and 126 (and still holds the one at 126), and has been on a tremendous run the last few years. Does he keep that momentum rolling with another world title, or can Australia’s Wilson pull a stunner and win his first?
Note: On Friday morning, we’ll have predictions for the Matchroom card on DAZN this Saturday.
Scott Christ (5-5)
Wilson got a chance to jump in and he’s taking it. You can easily go a whole solid career and never get the call for a world title fight, even in an age with so many “world titles.” He’s not a bad fighter, but it’s obviously not a matchup with the intrigue of Navarrete moving up to fight Oscar Valdez.
But it’s more about ability level than size, really. Navarrete, on paper, has the size to carry 130 just fine, and he’ll still have a really good reach for the weight. Wilson will be a bit taller (as listed, anyway), and he has a decent jab and a pretty good left hook. But I think Navarrete will just be too much; Wilson has some habits that I don’t know will work well at this level. I think we’ll have a couple rounds where Navarrete feels it out somewhat, but then he puts the pressure on and overwhelms Wilson, getting the stoppage. Navarrete TKO-8
Wil Esco (6-4)
As Emanuel Navarrete make his move up in weight I suspect this first fight against Liam Wilson will be one that he should be able to handle rather easily. Navarrete at times has a bit of a habit of toying around in the early rounds as he finds his bearings, and I think we’ll see more of that in this fight before he dials it up to put the heat on Liam Wilson. Wilson has never been up against this level of opponent before, and I think before too long he figures out exactly why there are levels to this sport. I’m going to take Navarrete to win an early second-half stoppage. Navarrete TKO-7
John Hansen (9-1)
I am not proud to know that Jessica Simpson, back in her Tony Romo’s Girlfriend era, put out a song called “Never Not Beautiful.” But, she did, and I do.
As a Serious Boxing Man and Analyst, my read on Wilson is that he looks like he switches stances instinctively rather than strategically, leaving himself open in very dangerous ways that a championship level opponent can and will exploit. Wilson also gets countered more than I generally like to see out of a top level guy, and he doesn’t seem quick to plug any leaks opponents happen to find in his defenses.
That’s a terrible scouting report for an Emanuel Navarrete opponent. Navarrete has the reach advantage, he’s comfortable working angles at distance or neutralizing a bulldog fighter, and his power has already carried over previous jumps in weight. It all shapes up for a fight where Wilson, despite being the naturally heavier guy, gets picked apart and beaten up for most of the fight until either the corner or the referee decides enough is enough.
But while Wilson may not have any apparent edge in the fight matchup, what he does have is the stone cold sexiest haircut that ever adorned a scalp. Sadly, his achievements in coiffure couture probably won’t mean much between the bells. Hopefully he can take comfort in knowing he’ll never not be beautiful as long as he has that hair. Navarrete TKO-7
Patrick Stumberg (7-3)
There are weight-neutral styles out there, ones that could, within reason, function at higher weight classes without the need for major adjustments. I’m not convinced that Navarrete’s game is among them, as it’s so reliant on his length and power. To be clear, that’s not a criticism; an unconventional style designed to maximize one’s advantages is every bit as commendable as one pulled straight from the textbooks. It’s just going to be interesting to see whether it holds up against naturally larger men.
It should hold up against Wilson, at least. The Aussie’s static guard and willingness to trade body shots on the inside should play right into Navarrete’s more dynamic hands. So long as Navarrete can take Wilson’s punches, which seems like a safe assumption, he’ll out-slug him for a late mercy stoppage. Navarrete TKO-9
Arnold Barboza Jr vs Jose Pedraza
- Scott: Barboza SD-10
- Wil: Barboza UD-10
- John: Barboza UD-10
- Patrick: Barboza UD-10
- Odds: Barboza -525, Pedraza +360 (DraftKings)