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Emanuel Navarrete to fight in July, possibly at 122

Image: Emanuel Navarrete to fight in July, possibly at 122

By Aragon Garcia: Knockout artist Emanuel Navarrete will be returning to the ring in July and “most likely” will be back at 122 to defend his WBO super bantamweight title, according to Juan Carlos of Zanfer Promotions.

There had been speculation that Navarrete (31-1, 27 KOs) would be moving up to 126 to go after the champions in that division. Steve Kim of ESPN is reporting that Navarrete will “most likely” be back at super bantamweight to defend his WBO belt.

Navarrete could be fighting on July 18

Navarrete impressed a lot of boxing fans in his last performance in defeating Jeo Santisima by an 11th round knockout on February 22 on the undercard of Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The hard-hitting Navarrete stole the show in some respects from the main event fight.

For Navarrete’s next outing, he could be defending his WBO title on the undercard of Fury vs. Wilder 3 on July 18 on ESPN and Fox pay-per-view.  Top Rank can’t go wrong in adding Navarrete to another Fury-Wilder card. It helps attract boxing fans to the card that otherwise wouldn’t be interested.

The fight fans want to see Navarrete face the other champions at super bantamweight in unification bouts, but that’s not likely to happen in July.

Other champions at 122 for Navarrete

  • Rey Vargas – WBC
  • Murodjon Akhmadaliev – IBF/WBA

WBC super bantamweight champion Rey Vargas (34-0, 22 KOs) is with Premier Boxing Champions, which makes him an unlikely foe to face the Top Rank promoted Navarrete. In an ideal world, a unification fight between Vargas and Navarrete would get made and the fans would be happy. That’s not realistic, however.

While Top Rank would make the Navarrete-Vargas fight in a second if, given the chance, PBC may not feel the same willingness to make that fight. You can’t blame them though. Navarrete is looking like an unstoppable force right now, and Vargas would have major problems trying to keep him off. Vargas hasn’t looked that great in his recent fights against Tomoki Kameda and Franklin Manzanilla

The 2016 Olympian Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6 KOs) is one of Matchroom Boxing’s fighters, and they’re going to try and turn him into a star. They won’t be able to accomplish that goal if they put Akhmadaliev in with the talented Navarrete.

Is Navarrete too risky for Akhmadaliev?

It’s a bad style match-up for Akhmadaliev, given being that he struggles when pressured. Akhmadaliev barely beat IBF/WBA 122-lb champion, Daniel Roman, on January 30 in Miami, Florida. Akhmadaliev, 25, very likely would have lost that fight if Roman had started pressing him hard earlier in the contest instead of waiting until the championship rounds.

Given the lack of opposition for the 25-year-old Navarrete at 122, he needs to make a move up in weight to featherweight soon for him to have a chance to get the bigger fights.

Since winning the WBO 122-lb title in December 2018 with an unexpected 12 round upset of champion Isaac Dogboe, Navarrete has successfully defended the title five times. That’s an incredible amount of title defenses for a world champion, but it shows that Navarrete is willing to stay busy at all costs. Even if the challengers aren’t well-known or highly respected, Navarrete will stay busy fighting them.

In Navarrete’s five defenses of his WBO belt, he’s beaten Jeo Santisima, Francisco De Vaca, Juan Miguel Elorde, Francisco Horta, and Isaac Dogboe.

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