Emanuel Navarrete and Francisco De Vaca both make weight for 122-pound title clash
Unify or bust.
Emanuel Navarrete hopes a unification fight will take place against any of the world titleholders at 122 pounds. If that does not happen, he has no problem moving up to the featherweight division.
Meanwhile Navarrete has to take care of business Saturday night as he defends his WBO title against unbeaten Francisco De Vaca at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles.
At Friday’s weigh-in, both Navarrete (27-1, 23 knockouts) and De Vaca (20-0, 6 KOs) weighed in at the junior featherweight limit of 122 pounds. For the co-feature bout, former WBO junior featherweight titlist Jessie Magdaleno (26-1, 18 KOs) weighed in at 125.4 pounds while Rafael Rivera (27-3-2, 18 KOs) weighed 125.6 pounds.
Both fights will air live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes (10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT).
Navarrete, who resides in Mexico City, made the first defense of the WBO title on May 11, stopping Isaac Dogboe in the 12th round. The fight was a rematch of Navarrete’s unanimous decision victory over Dogboe last December 8, in New York City.
Prior to the first fight against Dogboe, the 24-year-old Navarrete had fought his entire career in Mexico under the Zanfer Promotions banner. He has since signed a co-promotional deal with Top Rank.
Navarrete had grown accustomed to fighting in small arenas or dance halls in Mexico but is grateful to not only fight in larger venues in the United States but equally greater platforms on ESPN.
“The reality is that my life has changed a lot in these last eight months,” said Navarrete. “The fact that I have become world champion and that I have won over a wide margin to Isaac Dogboe, who came from beating Jessie Magdaleno, makes me very happy. I feel very satisfied with the results we have achieved for the hard work we have done in recent months.”
In a year of upsets thus far, De Vaca, who resides in Phoenix, hopes to pull off a significant one over Navarrete Saturday night. De Vaca notched a one-sided victory over veteran Ernesto Guerrero in his most recent bout on February 23.
De Vaca has compiled an unbeaten record but has only fought average opposition thus far. The Navarrete fight will mark only the third time De Vaca will be fighting outside his hometown of Phoenix.
Navarrete is wary of De Vaca but believes his own pedigree and preparation in the gym will be the difference on Saturday night.
“The truth is that it doesn’t matter who is my opponent. I always prepare 100% for each of my fights and this was no exception. We already did the hard work in the gym and we are ready for a great fight. If De Vaca comes to fight hard, I am prepared to go even harder. I’m ready to give a great battle to all the fans.”
An impressive victory could put Navarrete at or near the top of the 122-pound division. Navarrete is currently ranked No. 3 by The Ring.
There is a possibility that Navarrete could face mandatory challenger Marlon Tapales at the end of the year but Navarrete has been adamant lately about unifying the division, whether against IBF/WBA unified titleholder Danny Roman or WBC titleholder and countryman Rey Vargas, in 2020.
Should a fight against either Roman or Vargas not get made, Navarrete said there is a likelihood he could move up to 126 pounds.
“I’ve said it several times already: If the other champions of the division don’t want to accept the challenge of unifying titles, I will be moving up to the featherweight division. If everything goes well on Saturday, maybe I will make another fight in the super bantamweight division but if I don’t get a unification fight, I would go up to 126 pounds.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper, BoxingScene.com and FightNights.com. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @FSalazarBoxing.
You can order the current issue, which is on newsstands, or back issues from our subscribe page.