Friday, June 21, 2024  |



Ring Ratings Update: Emanuel Navarrete advances to No. 2 in featherweight rankings

Emanuel Navarrete has earned fans and respect with his recent victories at featherweight.
Fighters Network

If you didn’t think Emanuel Navarrete was a major player at featherweight prior to WBO title defense against Christopher Diaz you’re probably a believer now.

The majority of the Ring Ratings Panel is definitely on the “Vaquero” bandwagon following the 26-year-old volume-puncher’s 12th-round stoppage of the former junior lightweight title challenger.

Navarrete lands his “money” punch — a long-range left uppercut — against Diaz. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

Navarrete (33-1, 28 KOs), a former 122-pound beltholder from San Juan Zitlaltepec, Mexico, exhibited boxing ability, ring generalship, accurate power punching and even some defense while outworking and eventually overwhelming Diaz (26-3, 16 KOs) in the Puerto Rican’s adopted-home region of Kissimmee, Florida. Navarrete scored two knockdowns en route to the ESPN-televised stoppage.

Members of the Panel and Editorial Board were split on how far up the featherweight ladder Navarrete, rated No. 6 prior to the Diaz fight, should land but agreed that it should be between No. 4 and No. 2.

“Navarrete stopped Diaz in the final seconds of a really good fight, although it was fairly one sided on the scorecards,” said panelist Anson Wainwright. “Huge credit to both men. Navarrete just too much for Diaz but boy oh boy was Diaz tough. He gave his absolute all. I think Navarrete might be right behind (No. 1-rated) Gary Russell Jr. at No. 2, although I can see that is a fair leap.”

Managing Editor Tom Gray wasn’t sure about Navarrete leap-frogging more established featherweights Xu Can and Kid Galahad.

“Even though it was a tough, all-action fight, I thought Navarrete was fairly dominant, but a jump to No. 2 might be a little charitable because Diaz has been found out at top level more than once,” he said. “I’m going to vote for No. 4.”

Wainwright countered Gray with Navarrete’s impressive back-to-back performances (vs. then-unbeaten Ruben Villa and Diaz) and activity (as well as Xu Can’s inactivity).

“I initially thought of Navarrete at No. 4,” he said, “however, I pushed a little further because the current No. 2 is Xu Can, who hasn’t fought since November 2019 and Navarrete’s wins over Villa and Diaz are arguably better than anything on Can and Kid Galahad have done so far.”

Retorted Gray:

“Xu Can’s inactivity is a mixture of COVID(-19 pandemic) and the (Josh) Warrington fight stalling. I’m liable throw him a bone there, but he needs to move his ass. I’m not totally against Navarrete going a touch higher, I just think we need to keep the Diaz win in perspective.”

Panelist Martin Mulcahey suggested a No. 3 ranking for the Mexican windmill.

“Navarrete looked great (he reminded me of one of my all-time favorites, Manuel Medina, but with power) but this is still only his second win at this weight and both were over fringe contenders. Yes, Can Xu has not been active, and I think head to head he loses to Navarrete, but Xu has a slightly better resume at featherweight in my opinion.”

I agreed with Mulcahey.

Xu Can on the attack vs. Manny Robles during their 12-round war on November 23, 2019 in Indio, California. Photo By Tom Hogan/Golden Boy/Getty Images

“I think anywhere from No. 2 to No. 4 is fair for Navarrete. I’ve got no problem with him landing all the way up at No. 2, but I think his resume at this weight (wins over Villa and Diaz) is roughly equal to Xu’s two best wins – vs. Manny Robles III (a technically sound former amateur standout like Villa) and Jesus Rojas (a hardnosed, battle-tested Puerto Rican boxer-puncher like Daiz, only I think Rojas is more durable and has the heavier hands). Also, Xu’s been on the board as a featherweight up-and-comer longer than Navarrete (since his 2017 stoppage of veteran Nehomar Cermeno).”

Panelist Adam Abramowitz agreed with Gray’s suggestion to place Navarrete at No. 4. We were all overruled by panelists Michael Montero, Diego Morilla and Daisuke Sugiura, who agreed with Wainwright’s suggestion of No. 2.

“The only man I’d (slightly) favor to beat Emanuel Navarrete at 126 pounds right now is Gary Russell Jr.,” said Montero. “Both Xu Can and Kid Galahad have plenty of credentials at featherweight, but I think Navarrete beats them. Plus, he’s been more active lately. I’d put the Mexican at No. 2.”

Added Morilla:

“Definitely, put Navarrete at No. 2. It was a great win for him against a solid opponent, and when I compare him with Can and Galahad both record-wise and performance-wise, I still get Navarrete above them.”

Added Sugiura:

“It’s a difficult call, but Navarrete is No. 2 for me too. I wasn’t overly impressed by the quality of his performance to be honest, and I won’t be surprised if he’s beaten relatively soon, but nevertheless, it was a quality win against a credible opponent who moved down from 130 and it was a very good fight too. I agree with Diego that he is already better than Can and Galahad both record-wise and performance-wise, but featherweight is not a very deep division.”

Hey, it’s deep enough to make for some darn good scraps. Can you imagine the fireworks and CompuBox punch stats Emanuel Navarrete vs. Xu Can would produce?


Ring Ratings Update: 

Light heavyweight – Marcus Browne (24-1, 16 KOs) remains at No. 8 after scoring a shutout 10-round decision over unrated veteran Denis Grachev.

Super Middleweight – Carlos Gongora (20-0, 15 KOs) enters at No. 10 after stopping unrated Chris Pearson.

Carlos Gongora controlled talented Christopher Pearson from the opening bell. Photo by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

Gongora, who first garnered the Panel’s attention with a 12th-round KO of then-unbeaten prospect Ali Akhmedov in December, supplanted hot prospect Edgar Berlanga, who had won 16 consecutive first-round stoppages. After Berlanga went the distance (eight rounds) for the first time in his most recent bout (vs. Demond Nicholson), Wainwright suggested brining him back in the rankings (by removing No 9-rated veteran Fedor Chudinov). However, Wainwright was overruled by several other panelists.

“I wouldn’t be putting Berlanga back into the 168 ratings,” said Gray. “He got in based on method of victory and that was probably premature. Bottom line: He’s not fought a scheduled 10-rounder yet and he’s a prospect. Let’s see him develop into a contender.”

Added Abramowitz:

“I think Gongora should remain at No. 10. Akhmedov was a much better win than anything Berlanga has and Gongora looked excellent again in stopping Pearson. Berlanga looks imposing, but he’s been facing poor opposition.”

Added Morilla:

“No to Berlanga moving in just yet. I am pretty sure that his matchmaking decisions were more based on the possibility of him extending his first-round KO streak than on advancing him as a fighter, at least until (Nicholson). Let’s see what happens when he is matched against better opposition, there is plenty of that out there.”

Added Montero:

Berlanga dropped tough Nicholson four times en route to his first distance bout. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

“Agreed on not bringing Berlanga back in quite yet. He got in some good rounds and experience last night against Nicholson, but didn’t really do anything more than Jessie Hart did to him three years ago. Nicholson has been dropped by Steve Rolls, Mike Guy, etc., not the hardest guy to put down.”

Added Mulcahey:

“I would not bring in Edgar Berlanga after what most people would call his least impressive, in some ways, performance (I’m not one of them). He is very good, and Nicholson was a quality foe for where Berlanga is as a prospect, but not someone that gets you into top 10 contender status. I’d have Vladimir Shishkin enter first, I think he has shown a bit more so far.”

Middleweight – Demetrius Andrade (30-0, 18 KOs) remains at No. 3 after dropping and outpointing Ring-rated Liam Williams (23-3-1, 18 KOs), who drops to No. 10.

Junior middleweight – Tony Harrison (28-3-1, 21 KOs) drops to No. 7 after being held to a 12-round draw by unrated Bryant Perrella.

Junior welterweight – Regis Prograis (26-1, 22 KOs) remains at No. 2 after scoring a six-round technical decision over unrated Ivan Redkach that was later changed to a TKO victory for the former titleholder.

Featherweight – Navarrete advances to No. 2.

Junior flyweight – Kenshiro Teraji (18-0, 10 KOs) remains at No. 1 after defending his WBC title with a wide unanimous decision over No. 6-rated Tetsuya Hisada, who retired after the loss and thus exits the rankings. Sivenathi Nontshinga (10-0, 9 KOs), who recently outpointed Christian Araneta in an IBF title-elimination bout, enters the rankings at No. 10.

“For my money Teraji is the best 108-pounder in the world,” said Wainwright. “Obviously, he can’t move up unless he fights Hiroto Kyoguchi for The Ring title.”


Ones to watch:

Unbeaten British middleweight standout Felix Cash (14-0, 10 KOs), who stopped fellow unbeaten up-and-comer Denzel Bentley in three rounds, caught the eye of Abramowitz, who stated, “I was really impressed by Cash. He’s close to coming into the rankings.”

Unbeaten Japanese bantamweight prospect Ryosuke Nishida (4-0, 1 KO), who outpointed former WBC flyweight titleholder Daigo Higa, earned praise from Mulcahey.

“Look out for Nishida,” he said, “in only his fourth fight he bested a still-dangerous Daigo Higa over 12 rounds. He’s a long and quick southpaw, solid in all facets, who looks to be fast-tracked although he is with some group called Ambition Promotions who I do not recognize as one of the big names in Asian boxing.”


‘Upside’ debate:

I was “triggered” a little bit when Wainwright responded to my thoughts on the comparable featherweight resumes of Navarrete and Xu Can.

Said Wainwright:

“Really good comparisons, Doug. I feel Navarrete has more upside than the Chinese fighter.”

I wondered the heck a fighter’s “upside” had to do with his current ranking and I was curious as to how much this notion is factored into the panelists’ rating criteria. So I asked them.

Here’s how the discussion went:

Your Truly:

“I must comment on this line from Anson, which is something I’ve noticed other panelists bring up when determining a fighter’s ranking:

‘I feel Navarrete has more upside than the Chinese fighter.’

“This may be true. It may not. Both featherweights are in their mid-20s, both are big, strong, durable and busy with underrated craft, and both have solid promotional backing. Regardless of who has the brighter ‘upside,’ should that be part of the criteria for ranking a fighter? Call me old school, but I think our divisional rankings should only take into consideration what a fighter has accomplished in a particular division (not what he accomplished in other weight classes and not what he MIGHT go on to accomplish). I’m curious to hear the opinions of other panelists on this.

“Should speculation on a fighter’s potential be a part of the ratings criteria or a deciding factor when comparing the merits of two fighters with equal accomplishments (as we have in this case where we’re looking at supplanting Xu Can’s No. 2 spot for Navarrete)?”

Responded Abramowitz:

“For rankings purposes, potential doesn’t play a role for me.”

Replied Gray:

“Here’s a solid example of why upside and eye test are useless:

“18 of 20 ‘experts’ picked Berchelt to beat Valdez. 18 of 20 experts, myself included, were full of s__t. Nobody knows what’s going to happen in the future, so let’s stick to what we DO know.

“I’ll be repeating all this within a month.”

Retorted Montero:

“Hey, I was that ‘1’ who picked Valdez haha. In fairness, there was some ‘eye test’ (in regards to style match up) that played a role in my pick; I always felt Oscar’s style was all wrong for Miguel…

“However, I agree that ‘eye test’ and ‘upside’ should have little bearing on ratings. It’s about accomplishments (with a focus on recent accomplishments, followed by the overall body of work) more than anything else.

“Potential does play a role, but a very small one.”

Added Wainwright:

“I don’t use that as a rule but just feel Navarrete should be above Can. I would have him at No. 2 and Can at No. 3. No argument if it’s the other way around. It’s fine margins.

“My reasoning for Navarrete is that based on their body of work at 126, it’s close, I’ve tried to split hairs and using how I see the match up head-to-head, career work so far, and who I think has a higher ceiling as a fighter.”

Concluded Mulcahey:

“I have mentioned ‘upside’ in the past, but in reference to young guys who have not built a resume or just in passing as an opinion. I agree, it should not be used as a ratings criteria in itself. I think in my initial reply I also mentioned that I believe Navarrete beats Can ‘head to head,’ but Can should be rated higher going on record, and ‘head to head’ opinion should not be part of ratings criteria as well. However, it is something I throw in as a personal opinion. All in the framing I suppose, but bottom line, I agree ‘upside’ is not something that should be part of ranking evaluation.”



Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and join him, Tom Loeffler, Coach Schwartz and friends via Tom’s IG or Doug’s YouTube channel every Sunday.