By Dan Ambrose: Oscar Valdez (31-1, 23 KOs) will challenge Emanuel Navarrete (37-1, 31 KOs) for his WBO super featherweight title in their long-awaited clash tonight on ESPN at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
Navarrete-Valdez will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
The fight is coming just in time for Navarrete & Valdez, as they look like they’re both showing signs of deterioration. Navarrete vs. Oscar Valez is a good fight for the fans, but it’s not one involving the best at 130.
Neither of these guys could beat WBC champion O’Shaquie Foster in this writer’s view. Moreover, IBF champ Joe Cordina and WBA champion Hector Garcia would likely beat Valdez & Navarrete. They’ve aged badly.
Navarrete, 28, came close to being knocked out in his last fight by little-known replacement opponent Liam Wilson last February.
Indeed, Navarrete would have been knocked out if the referee Chris Flores hadn’t stopped the action to allow Emanuel to have his mouthpiece reinserted after he spat it out after being dropped by Wilson in round four. The valuable seconds that ticked off the clock allowed Navarrete to survive the round.
For his part, the 32-year-old Valdez looked like the shell of the fighter he’d once been, laboring to an unimpressive 10 round unanimous decision against second-tier fighter Adam Lopez (16-5, 6 KOs) in their rematch on the undercard of the Devin Haney vs. Vasyl Lomacheenko card on ESPN PPV in Las Vegas.
The former two-division world champion Valdez was coming off a 13-month layoff and a one-sided loss to Shakur Stevenson. Valdez beat Lopez by the scores 98-92, 98-91, and 97-93.
Adam Lopez had been easily beaten by his previous opponent Abraham Nova last January in getting blanked in a 10 round unanimous decision loss. Nova had been destroyed by two-time Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez in his previous fight, which shows how far Oscar Valdez has slipped as a fighter. He’s not the guy he used to be, as we saw with his struggles to beat Adam Lopez and his one-sided loss to Shakur.
“The much-anticipated fight between WBO junior lightweight titleholder Emanuel Navarrete and Mexican countryman Oscar Valdez is penciled in for Aug. 12 at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona,” said Dan Rafael to Fight Freaks Unite.
“The fight, which has long been intended to take place in August, will headline a Top Rank card on an ESPN platform.”
Navarrete vs. Oscar Valdez is a toss-up at this point. Whoever shows up on the night will win. With that said, the winner needs to stay away from Foster, Robeisy, Cordina, Hector, and Lomachenko because those guys have too much talent for Valdez & Navarrete.
“We all want [Navarrete],” Oscar Valdez said last weekend. “Nothing but respect for him. He’s a great champion.”
“The anticipation for this fight is undeniable. Valdez and I owe it to the fans to give our all. Everyone’s expecting a fierce showdown, and we’re equipped to deliver.”
“I’ve long felt the need for this bout with Valdez. The innate rivalry between us Mexicans fuels the excitement. There’s been pressure from fans wanting me to have a defining moment in my career, and this fight can be that.”
“With Barrera and Morales present, it’s clear what’s expected of us. We need to match or even surpass their legacy. Everything points to an unforgettable evening. Valdez looks prepared, and so am I. Saturday night will be electric.”
“This bout holds immense significance for me. Losing to Shakur Stevenson reignited my passion. That year-long hiatus made me yearn for the sport. I’m hungry to reclaim my status as a world champion.”
“Regardless of the location – be it Lake Tahoe, San Diego, Guadalajara, or China, our training regime remains rigorous. For this bout, our intensity amplified. We’ve been strategic in our preparations, and under Eddy Reynoso’s guidance, we’re primed for the challenge.”
“Barrera and Morales’ presence is deeply meaningful. They inspired me throughout my formative years. Their valor in the ring set the standard.”
“My goal is singular: reclaim the world champion title and put up a stellar show for the fans. I’m ready.”
Marco Antonio Barrera
“I’m honored to witness this monumental bout. When Mexican fighters step into the ring, intensity follows. Both Valdez and Navarrete recognize the stakes and the kind of combat expected of them.”
“Clashes between Mexican fighters guarantee thrill. Here, both contenders are vying for a spot in the annals of iconic Mexican duels.”
“This bout offers Navarrete and Valdez the stage to affirm the dynamism of Mexican boxing. I’ve spoken to them individually, and they both predict a fiery contest. That’s precisely what I’m here to witness.”
“For us Mexicans, it’s about heart and pride. Titles and accolades take a back seat. The real quest is about proving who’s Mexico’s finest.”