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Emanuel Navarrete targeting WBO mandatory spot at 126

Emanuel Navarrete

By Jeff Aronow: Emanuel Navarrete has reportedly has given up his WBO super bantamweight title, and he’s now asked the World Boxing Organization to make him the mandatory for their featherweight title. Shakur Stevenson currently holds WBO 126-pound title, but he’s planning on vacating it to fight at 130.

Navarrete will be fighting one of these three for the vacant WBO 126-pound title:

  • Michael Conlan
  • Ruben Villa
  • Jessie Magdaleno

The two-time Olympian Michael Conlan (13-0, 7 KOs) is the likely guy that Navarrete will battle for the vacant WBO 126-lb belt. Conlan and Navarrete are both signed with Top Rank.

With the WBO 122-lb title now vacant, #1 Stephen Fulton (18-0, 8 KOs) and #2 Angelo Leo (19-0, 9 KOs) will fight for it. If Conlan loses badly to Navarrete, it’ll be interesting to see if Top Rank terminates his contract. Conlan doesn’t look like he’s got the talent to ever win a world title.

Unfortunately for Navarrete (31-0, 27 KOs), he won’t get a chance to take on Shakur Stevenson because he’s already moved up to 130. That will be an excellent match in the future when Navarrete eventually moves up to 126.

Emanuel Navarrete

Navarrete has made his debut at 126

Hopefully, he does it before Stevenson grows out of the 126-lb division, which could be sooner than people think.

Navarrete already made his debut at 126 last month in defeating journeyman Uriel Lopez by a sixth-round knockout on June 20 in a Top Rank promoted show on ESPN at the Gimnasio TV Azteca, in  Mexico City. Navarrete fought well in stopping the tough but limited Lopez.

The enormous 5’7″ Navarrete had somehow been able to make the 122-pound limit for the last four years since moving up to super bantamweight in 2016. But in his last couple of fights, it reached a point where it was too difficult for him to stay at 122.

Fighting at 126 will give Navarrete more significant opportunities for nice paydays against Gary Russell Jr, Josh Warrington, Can Xu, and Jessie Magdaleno. It would be a good idea for Navarrete not to remain at 126 for too long of a time because he’ll stall his career.

There are not enough big names in that weight division for Navarrete to accomplish what he wants to. What Navarrete doesn’t need is for him to stunt his career the way Russell Jr has arguably done by staying in the featherweight division too long.

More opportunities for Navarrete at 130

Russell Jr has boxed out of the bigger fights by guys that don’t want to fight him. He should have moved up to 130 in 2016 because he would have had more chances for bigger battles.

That’s where Navarrete needs to be moving to if he wants to battle these guys:

  • Oscar Valdez
  • Miguel Berchelt
  • Jamel Herring
  • Shakur Stevenson

Berchelt, Valdez, and Herring are all with Top Rank, which makes it easy for Navarrete to fight them.

Navarrete won the WBO 122lb belt two years ago in beating Isaac Dogboe in 2018. He then fought Dogboe in a rematch and stopped him in 2019.

From 2019 to 2020, Navarrete has successfully defended his WBO belt four times against the best available contenders. Navarrete wanted the unification fights against Murodjon Akhmadaliev, Rey Vargas, and Brandon Figueroa, but none of those matches were presented to him.

Even if Navarrete could stay at 122, he still likely wouldn’t get a chance to fight those guys.


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