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Ruben Villa faces Emanuel Navarrete tonight on ESPN


By Sean Jones: Ruben Villa will be looking to try and outbox slugger Emanuel Navarrete tonight when the two compete for the vacant WBO featherweight title on ESPN at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Although both fighters are coming into the fight with even shot at winning the belt, former WBO super bantamweight champion Navarrete (31-1, 27 KOs) is the A-side, and he’ll likely be the one the judges give it to if the contest is close.

Villa has that Lomachenko-esque style of fighting that could give Navarrete fits tonight.

Villa (18-0, 5 KOs) is a different type of fighter than the ones that the 25-year-old Navarrete has faced before.  Unlike the other 32 fighters that Navarrete has faced in the past, he won’t be able to count on Villa just standing like a statue, letting him impose his will on him.

Navarrete needs a stationary opponent to land his shots, and he might have problems if Villa doesn’t make things easy.

Ruben will try and out-box Navarrete

Villa doesn’t possess the power to go to war with Navarrete in the way that he prefers, and he’s not likely to try to do that. The 23-year-old Ruben’s fighting style of more similar to Vasily Lomachenko, and he likes to make his opponents miss and then counter them.

Navarrete is already struggling with the weight despite moving up from 122. He had to strip to make the 126-pound limit on Thursday at the weigh-in, and he looked soft in the midsection and upper body.


Many boxing fans saw Navarrete as a weight bully when he fought at 122 because of his huge advantage over his smaller opponents. That perception may not change if Navarrete continues to look huge after he rehydrates.

It’s clear that Navarrete isn’t watching his diet in between fights, and he looks like he didn’t do enough cardio to burn the weight he’d put on since his last fight in June. If that doesn’t hurt Navarrete tonight, it will eventually if he keeps struggling to make weight.

Villa and Navarrete will be fighting for the WBO 126-lb title that was vacated recently by Shakur Stevenson. It came at the right time for Navarrete because he probably would have lost his WBO 122lb title on the scales if he’d made one more defense of his belt.

Will the extra weight help Navarrete?

In Navarrete’s last fight against Uriel Lopez, he weighed in at 127 pounds, which is lightweight, and et still looked like he was carrying a decent amount of fat on his midsection. After Navarrete rehydrated, he looked like a light-welterweight [140 lbs], which is probably the division he should be fighting in.

Jessie Magdaleno was the one that Top Rank had planned on facing Navarrete, but they disagreed on the money for the fight. Magdaleno would have gone to war with, and it would have been fun to see who emerged as the winner.

“I was a little surprised,” Navarrete said to ESPN about Magdaleno choosing not to take the fight with him for the vacant WBO 126-lb title. “He had just come off a win — you win and you fight for a world title. That’s usually how it goes.”

The 5’6″ Villa isn’t quite as tall as the 5’7″, and he’ll be giving away six inches in reach to Emanuel as well. That isn’t nearly as big a deal as the weight that Navarrete puts back on after rehydrating and his high-volume punching. He’s like a smaller version of Antonio Margarito with his ability to throw a massive amount of punches per

The movement from Villa will be the key to him winning. That’s his best chance of beating Navarrete, but it’s going to be difficult for Villa to move for 12 rounds continuously without him gassing out and getting taken out.

Can Villa stay on the move all night?

All it will take is for Villa to tire out for small periods in each round, and that’ll be enough time for Navarrete to impress the judges with his flurries and combination punching. Villa will find it hard to steal the rounds if he can’t stay on the run for the full three minutes of each round.


Who knows whether the judges will like seeing Villa move so much. They may choose to give the rounds to Navarrete just based on him being so aggressive. That’s something you have to keep in mind. Navarrete only has one way of fighting, and that’s to come forward and pressure nonstop for the full duration of each round.

Villa will need more power to win rounds if Navarrete is out-landing him all night long. He would need to make Navarrete miss most of his shots and counter him to win a decision tonight.

If boxing ever returns to the same-day weigh-ins, it could take return fighters to their proper weight classes so that they’re not trying to game the system by dehydrating to make weight to fight in divisions that are below their size.




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