WBO president Valcarcel: Emanuel Navarrete will be #1 at 126 if he moves up

By Boxing News - 06/21/2020 - Comments

By Jeff Aronow: WBO president Paco Valcárcel revealed last Saturday night that if 122-pound champion Emanuel Navarrete moves up to 126, he’ll be #1 in the division and possibly challenge for the title right away.

In a stay busy fight last Saturday night, Navarrete stopped Uriel Lopez (13-14-1, 6 KOs) in the sixth round at the Gimnasio TV Azteca, in Mexico City. Navarrete toyed with Lopez for four rounds before turning on the heat and knocking him down in rounds five and six with body shots.

The reference mercifully stopped the slaughter after Lopez was put down for the second time in the fight in the sixth. The 25-year-old Navarrete put on a body punching clinic with his showcase fight against Lopez,  and that made it an entertaining contest to watch.

Navarrete has an old school style of fighting that is interesting to watch, considering most fighters nowadays are strictly headhunters that ignore the body.

Image: WBO president Valcarcel: Emanuel Navarrete will be #1 at 126 if he moves up

Navarrete can fight for WBO 126-lb title right away

Valcarcel says Navarrete (31-1, 27 KOs) can battle for the WBO featherweight belt IF the current champion Shakur Stevenson opts to move up in weight to 130, something he recently talked about last week. It’s not clear what the 22-year-old Stevenson will do, though.

Shakur wants to move up if he can get a fight against one of the top guys are 130, but the fighters that he wants to face are already busy. In that case, Stevenson could choose to remain at 126 if he can get a fight against someone like IBF champ Josh Warrington. It might not interest Stevenson to face 25-year-old Navarrete because he doesn’t have a title, and the match wouldn’t be as huge as it could be later.

“If @vaqueronavarre1 [Emanuel Navarrete] decides to move up to 126 he will be #1 in that division, 3 possible opponents, [Michael] Conlan, Ruben Vila and [Jessie] Magdaleno if @ShakurStevenson
move up,” said WBO president PacoValcarcel on his Twitter.

These are the fighters WBO president Paco Valcarcel says Navarrete can face potentially for the vacant WBO 126-pound title:

  • Michael Conlan
  • Ruben Villa
  • Jessie Magdaleno

2016 Olympian Michael Conlan (13-0, 7 KOs) is the #1 ranked contender with the World Boxing Organization at 126. The 28-year-old Conlan will be the guy in the spotlight if Navarrete moves up to 126. However, it’s believed that Conlan will pass on the fight.

Michael Conlan a possible opponent for Emanuel

If the Irish fighter Conlan decides not to fight for the vacant WBO featherweight strap, then Navarrete would face either #4 Magdaleno (28-1, 18 KOs) or #5 Rubel Villa (18-0, 5 KOs) for the belt.

Navarrete, who at this point in his career is having a difficult time making the 122-pound limit, would be willing to stay in the division if he could get a significant fight. He specifically would like to face bantamweight champion Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs) if he moves up to 122. If Navarrete didn’t get that fight, he would be interested in facing the other champions at super bantamweight:

  • Brandon Figueroa
  • Gary Russell Jr
  • Rey Vargas
  • Murodjon Akhmadaliev

Given that those fights haven’t happened for Navarrete yet, it’s not probable that they’ll happen now during the pandemic when there’s less money to be made. The other champions at 122 don’t gain much in taking on Navarrete in a unification match that won’t bring in a tremendous amount of money.

Aside from getting a good opponent at 122, the logical choice for Navarrete is for him to move up to 126. He can go after the WBO belt. If Stevenson (14-0, 8 KOs) chooses to hold onto his WBO featherweight title, then Navarrete should attempt to face him. If Top Rank doesn’t block the Stevenson-Navarrete fight, which they probably will, it would be the one to make.

Image: WBO president Valcarcel: Emanuel Navarrete will be #1 at 126 if he moves up

Navarrete has other options at 126

There are a lot of options for Navarrete at 126 in addition to going after the WBO belt. Navarrete shouldn’t limit himself to just fighting for the WBO belt, which Top Rank has had a stranglehold in the following weight classes: 122, 126, 130, 135, 140, and 147.

It might be a better option for Navarrete to target the IBF or WBC title at 126, but unfortunately, he would have to wait to get a shot at those titles. Unlike with the WBO, the IBF and WBC won’t automatically rank Navarrete after he moves up to 126.

He would have work his way up the ranks like regular fighters do, and not be given a title shot on a silver platter passively. That’s the way it should be in a perfect work, but the WBO has different rules.

The WBO allows their champions to move up a weight class and be given a #1 ranking for their belts. I don’t know if that’s a good thing because it means that fighters that have worked hard for years to get a #1 ranking with the WBO, they get pushed down to #2.

If Navarrete doesn’t get a big fight at 122, the only reason why he might choose to stay is if he questions his ability to thrive at 126. It’s a big choice for Navarrete to make in going up in weight because he’s stepping into the unknown at featherweight. Some fans see Navarrete as a weight bully, who has taken advantage of his size to beat the small guys at 122.

The size advantage will disappear for ‘Vaquero’ at 126

In going up to 126, Navarrete will no longer be more abundant in size than his opponents. Stevenson and Conlan are the same height as Navarrete, and they bring different tools to make it tough on guys like him. It might be better for Navarrete to stick it out as long as he can at 122 before he’s forced to move up to 126 due to his slowing metabolism.

Top Rank has had the right idea of having Navarrete fight frequently, and not letting him having long periods of inactivity between matches. He’s fought five times since winning the WBO 122-lb belt in 2018 from Issac Dogboe.

Image: WBO president Valcarcel: Emanuel Navarrete will be #1 at 126 if he moves up

Navarrete will need to focus more on his high punch volume at featherweight for him to keep winning because he won’t be able to win by using his size. Fighters like Shakur Stevenson will be tough for Navarrete to get to for him to work over on the inside.

The inside game of some of these guys are just as good as Navarrete, and maybe even better. Stevenson looked like a smaller version of Andre Ward in his recent win over Felix Caraballo on June 9, and he’ll be hard to beat.

Top Rank has kept Navarrete’s weight down 

By having Navarrete fight frequently, it’s helped him keep his weight down because he’s been sitting inactive, eating, and gaining weight like a lot of fighters do. That’s how many fighters eat their way out of weight classes. They’re inactive, put on the pounds, and can no longer make weight for their divisions.

In Navarrete’s case, he’s fought so often that he’s not been able to rest to put on weight. Whether it was intentional on Top Rank’s part in matching Navarrete as frequently as possible to delay him eating his way out of the 122-lb division or merely a situation of them wanting to build a large fanbase in a hurry is unknown.

It’s worked out well for Navarrete that he’s fought so often, and has been able to keep his weight down to compete in a division that his body frame doesn’t support. Navarrete is a gigantic super bantamweight, and he owes a lot of his success to that fact.