Emanuel Navarrete beat Liam Wilson to win a world title in a third weight class, but had to come off the canvas in an absolute war with the Australian underdog.
Navarrete (37-1, 31 KO) was coming up to 130 lbs for the first time, having already won world titles at 122 and 130, and Wilson (13-2, 7 KO) was a substitute opponent for him giving little chance by the oddsmakers, replacing the originally scheduled Oscar Valdez.
But if Wilson had one clear weapon coming into the fight, it was a dangerous and powerful left hand, and in round four, Navarrete felt that shot, walking onto a huge bomb from Wilson that eventually led to the Mexican favorite hitting the canvas.
There was some controversy there, as Navarrete spit his mouthpiece out somewhere around the count of eight, which bought him some extra time that the referee didn’t seem too concerned about speeding up. In the end, Navarrete barely got out of the round with Wilson trying to close the show.
Navarrete still wasn’t steady to start round five, but he was able to get his legs back underneath him, and he started coming on. He walked into another big left hand later, and it became clear that this was a fight where both guys were going to have to take a real risk. Navarrete’s best approach was being aggressive, but it was also the approach that left him most vulnerable to Wilson’s big shots.
Navarrete started coming on really strong in the eighth round, and in the ninth, he put the pedal to the metal, dropping Wilson early in the round and then finishing him at 1:57 of round nine when the referee stopped the fight, as Wilson was absorbing a ton of punishment and just reeling at that point.
It was a tremendous effort that Wilson should be enormously proud of, and another huge win for Navarrete, who is establishing himself as a clear great for Mexican boxing in his era.
“I’m made of strength, power, heart, and that Mexican spirit that never lets me down,” Navarrete told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna. “Liam is a great warrior. He came here to win and landed that great shot on me, and it stunned. But I was able to settle myself down, and once that happened, I was able to get the victory.”
“This was an amazing victory because it tested me. I needed to know I was capable of going to the canvas, getting up, and coming out the victor, and now I know I’m capable of doing that, and in great fashion.”
Navarrete now actively holds world titles in two division, as he still has the WBO featherweight title, and will have a decision to make about what division he intends to fight in next. There probably are bigger fights available at 130, including rescheduling the intended clash with Oscar Valdez.
Valdez congratulated Navarrete post-fight in the ring, and said he’d like to come back to Arizona and make that fight happen as they had planned.
“We want an Erik Morales vs Marco Antonio Barrera (style) fight again, and I think ‘Vaquero’ Navarrete’s style and my style would be a perfect,” Valdez said. “We want to fight. Let’s make it happen.”
“Tonight I came up a bit short and I’m disappointed, but I knocked him down in the fourth round and I believe the count was a bit long,” Wilson said. “We’ll have to review it. I thought I won the fight in that sense, because I thought it was about a 20-second count. I want to come back. I love to fight, I love challenges, and I’ll fight another champion any day of the week.”
Wilson added that he wants to “get (the count) reviewed,” and said, “He’s a tough champion, all due respect to him. This is boxing and stuff happens. But all credit to him, I hope he goes on to do great things. I’ll be back, make no mistake about it. I love these hard fights. You won’t see me in an easy fight.”
Navarrete vs Wilson highlights
Arnold Barboza Jr UD-10 Jose Pedraza
Another fight, another solid performance and win for Barboza, who stays unbeaten at 28-0 (10 KO) on scores of 96-94, 96-94, and 97-93. Bad Left Hook’s two unofficial cards were also 96-94 and 97-93.
The 31-year-old Barboza started really well in the first four rounds, but Pedraza (29-5-1, 14 KO) showed he still has some skills and some life at age 33, turning southpaw and giving Barboza issues. But Barboza adjusted well enough, and while it was sort of an even fight in the last four rounds or so, he won enough to secure the victory. Pedraza really is a gatekeeper at 140, but he is still a high-level gatekeeper, and Barboza had to earn this one.
“I was making the fight easy the first five, six rounds, but mentally I wanted to start brawling,” Barboza told Bernardo Osuna. “It’s something I’ve got to work on, but I could have made this fight way easier. Man, what a tough guy. Tough guy, what can I say.”
He also didn’t shy away from admitting that Pedraza’s southpaw switch gave him some trouble in the fight, saying, “All training camp we worked against southpaws, he just did a good job. I thought he was going to turn southpaw sooner, he did a real good job of doing it mid-fight. It’s always hard when you fight someone with all the experience he has.”
Barboza again called for another step up in opposition, saying he wants either a world title fight or one of Top Rank’s other two big names at 140, Teofimo Lopez or Jose Ramirez.
“Look, man, I think I paid my dues. I’ve already proven enough,” he said. “I want a title shot — Regis (Prograis), (Alberto) Puello, the winner of the IBF, or (Josh) Taylor. If I can’t get them, everyone knows who I want: Teofimo for sure. If I can’t get him, give me Jose Ramirez. My next fight has gotta be a top guy.”
Undercard highlights and results
- Richard Torrez TKO-1 James Bryant: At the end of the day, like I said before, it is what it is and things of that nature. Torrez goes to 5-0 (5 KO) with an easy smashing of Bryant (6-3, 4 KO), a 37-year-old former college football player who tried boxing in 2010, fought a few times, didn’t fight again until 2019, and now gets called in sometimes. He was a short notice opponent here and Torrez destroyed him with an uppercut. The fight should have been stopped there, but Mark Calo-oy let him finish the round, which was a bad idea. In the corner, Stitch Duran (more on him in a moment!) talked the Bryant corner out of continuing any further, so it’s a 3:00 TKO-1, what used to be an RTD-1, but apparently not a TKO-2 at 0:01 or anything. It’s all the same at the end of the day, like I said before.
- Andres Cortes UD-10 Luis Melendez: The great cut man Stitch Duran did some all-time work here on a Cortes cut, keeping it from getting out of hand in the second half of this fight. The cut easily could have gotten even worse than it was, and Melendez (17-3, 13 KO) certainly tried to get it there with tactics legal and not-so-legal, infuriating Cortes’ brother in the corner. Scores were 100-90 from all three judges, and Bad Left Hook unofficially scored the fight 98-92 for Cortes, who goes to 19-0 (10 KO). He never leaps off the screen, but he just keeps winning in solid matchups.
- Nico Ali Walsh UD-6 Eduardo Ayala: Scores were 59-54, 59-54, and 60-53. Ali Walsh (8-0, 5 KO) has miles and miles to go, but the kid is working, and he and his actual team — the ones he’s in the gym with — seem totally aware that he is very much still a work in progress. It was a fun fight — Ali Walsh got a knockdown, but Ayala (9-3-1, 3 KO) came here to fight, and he landed some shots. Again, there’s still a ton to work on, but hey, an entertaining prelims fight from a guy who clearly is giving his best effort and trying to get better. Taken just in the ring, there are way more frustrating prospects out there. Of course it’s all on its own scale and all that depending on the fighter.
- Lindolfo Delgado UD-8 Clarence Booth: Not the absolute best showing for Delgado (17-0, 13 KO), and kind of a disappointing matchup after his terrific war with Omar Aguilar last year, but a clear win and it keeps him active, too. Delgado’s 28, if he’s looking to really get into contention the time is either right now or extremely close. Booth (21-7, 13 KO) did his usual job, basically. Delgado did score an eighth round knockdown and had Booth reeling a bit, but didn’t get the time to finish.
- Emiliano Vargas UD-4 Francisco Duque: This wound up a terrific test for the 18-year-old Vargas (3-0, 2 KO), the lightweight prospect son of Fernando, as he had to work and got some good looks from Duque (1-2, 0 KO), a 19-year-old southpaw who landed some left hands and was rightfully very proud of his effort against a hyped prospect. Duque at the very least has earned himself more work checking young prospects, but he also showed a level of toughness and some skills that could well be molded if someone gives him a chance to dedicate time to the sport.