Emanuel “El Vaquero” Navarrete visited the canvas tonight, but he got back up to become a three-division world champion.
Navarrete (37-1, 31 KOs) captured the vacant WBO junior lightweight world title with a hard-earned ninth-round technical knockout victory against Liam Wilson (11-2, 7 KOs) Friday night at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
Navarrete now joins an elite list of Mexican boxers who have captured titles in three weight classes. That list includes the likes of Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera and Juan Manuel Marquez.
In the early rounds, Navarrete controlled the fight by pushing the action with his awkward style. But in the fourth round, he was hurt badly by a left hook, which allowed Wilson to land several more shots and eventually drop Navarrete. The Mexican warrior was able to recover, but was hurt once again with a right hook in the sixth.
Navarrete kept his cool and eventually began a vicious assault to the body, which weakened Wilson in the eighth round. “El Vaquero” then caught Wilson with a right hand that sent him down hard. Wilson did his best to survive the onslaught, but Navarrete’s relentless punching was too much and forced the ref to call a halt to the fight at 1:57 of the ninth.
At the time of the stoppage, all three judges had Navarrete ahead (76-75 and 77-74 2x).
“I’m made of a lot of work, strength, lots of heart, and the Mexican spirit that never lets me down,” Navarrete said. “Liam is a warrior. He was able to land a shot that stunned me a lot. Obviously, we tried to take things calmly. Fortunately, we were able to recover our calmness. We went out to recover a bit. We returned to 100%. And we began to engage.
“The satisfaction of winning like this is enormous. I think that I needed this test in order to be able to say my career is more complete. Now that I know that I can hit the canvas and get back up and keep fighting, I’m more than happy because I know that I can continue forward.”
“Tonight, I came up a bit short, and I’m disappointed,” Wilson said. “But I knocked him down in the fourth round, and I felt that the count was a bit long. We’ll have to review it and see what people think. He’s a true champion, though. I thought I won the fight in that sense because I think it was about a 20-second count. I’ll review it and see what happens there.
“I want to come back. I’m a true champion. This is my 12th fight, but no excuses. I love to fight, and I love challenges. I’d fight any other champion any day of the week. He’s a tough champion. With all due respect to him, he’s very awkward. But this is boxing, and stuff happens. All credit to him. I hope he goes on to do great things. I’ll be back. Make no mistake about it.”
Barboza Topples Pedraza
Arnold Barboza Jr. (28-0, 10 KOs) defended his WBO Intercontinental junior welterweight title with a unanimous decision win over former two-division world champion Jose Pedraza (29-5-1, 14 KOs).
Barboza boxed intelligently from the outside, landing quick combos that Pedraza had difficulty avoiding. On his part, Pedraza was able to close the distance on many occasions, but he often did so without throwing a jab, so it made it difficult for him to enter without receiving a lot of punishment.
As the rounds progressed, Pedraza did his best to land punches to the body, but Barboza would often smother the Puerto Rican’s offense and use his footwork to evade more shots.
The later rounds were tough, but Barboza prevailed by scores of 97-93 and 96-94 2x.
“I was making the fight easy for the first five or six rounds, but I wanted to stay in there and start brawling. Pedraza is a tough guy. All training camp we were working against southpaws, but he did a good job of switching to southpaw in the middle of the fight. It’s hard fighting a guy like him with a lot of experience,” Barboza said. “I think I’ve paid my dues. I want a title shot. I want Regis Prograis, Alberto Puello, or the winner of the IBF title or the WBO title. If I can’t get them, everyone knows who I want: Teofimo Lopez.”
Richard Torrez Jr. Stops James Bryant
Richard Torrez Jr. (5-0, 5 KOs) remained undefeated with a first-round TKO over James Bryant (6-3, 4 KOs). Torrez initiated the bout in aggressive fashion, using feints and head movement to close the distance.
After a few exchanges, Torrez noticed that Bryan would often crouch forward. The U.S. Olympic silver medalist then responded by unleashing his left uppercut, which eventually dropped Bryant before the round ended.
Bryant was able to survive, but his corner advised the referee to stop the fight before the second round could commence.
“When you land a punch like that, it almost feels like there’s no glove there. It just feels like a solid shot from your knuckle to his head. And that’s when you know you hurt the guy,” Torrez said. “I thought he was in the recovery state because he had a minute left, but if the fight were to continue, I would have applied pressure. I started off the first round a little slower than usual, but I did that on purpose. I wanted to set my distance and my jab and feints. And luckily that uppercut landed and there was more to come.”
In undercard action:
Junior Lightweights: Andres Cortes (19-0, 10 KOs) outboxed Luis Melendez (17-3, 13 KOs) en route to a 10-round unanimous decision. Both men started the bout cautiously, but Cortes’ superior ring IQ allowed him to dominant more and more as the rounds progressed. Scores: 100-90 3x.
Middleweights: Nico Ali Walsh (8-0, 5 KOs) overcame a hometown disadvantage with a dominant six-round unanimous decision win over Phoenix’s Eduardo Ayala (9-3-1, 3 KOs). Walsh scored a knockdown in the second round, but Ayala, who was backed by a packed crowd of his supporters, was undeterred and was able to go the distance. Scores: 60-53 and 59-54 2x.
Ali Walsh said, “He was a big guy, and I wanted to show that I could muscle him around on the inside. Ayala was the hometown favorite. That was a new experience for me, but it was a valuable one.”
Junior Welterweights: Lindolfo Delgado (17-0, 13 KOs), a 2016 Mexican Olympian, retained his undefeated record with a unanimous decision win over Clarence Booth (21-7, 13 KOs) after eight rounds of action. Delgado scored a knockdown in the final round, courtesy of a hard right hand. Scores: 80-71 and 79-72 2x.
Lightweights: Emiliano Fernando Vargas (3-0, 2 KOs) went the distance for the first time in his career by scoring a four-round unanimous win over southpaw Francisco Duque (1-2). Scores: 40-36 3x.