Emanuel Navarrete overcomes determined Joet Gonzalez, retains featherweight belt
Emanuel Navarrete survived a determined challenge from mandatory challenger Joet Gonzalez, retaining the WBO featherweight title by by unanimous decision on Friday night.
The scores were 118-110 on one card and 116-112 on two, though the first score was not indicative of the competitive brawl at the Pechanga Arena in San Diego, Calif. that kept the fight in the balance into the 12th round. If one of the judges didn’t have respect for Gonzalez’s effort, that opinion wasn’t shared by the defending champion.
“Without a doubt, I hurt him, but every single time he came back, and he also hurt me. A couple shots he landed hurt me during the fight,” said Navarrete (35-1, 29 knockouts) of San Juan Zitlaltepec, Mexico.
Gonzalez, whose only two defeats came in world title fights, felt he did enough to win the fight, but was particularly surprised by the wide score.
“I thought I had it seven rounds to five, eight rounds to four. I was really surprised by that score of 118-110, I believe. But it is what it is, and I did my best,” said Gonzalez (24-2, 12 KOs) of Glendora, Calif.
Gonzalez made a statement in the first round, showing the physically imposing Navarrete that he could stand and trade punches with him. His fortunes turned in the second round, when a cuffing left hook caused a cut underneath the right eye. The blood would never threaten his vision, but the swelling it caused made cutman Mike Bazzel a central figure in the bout.
The cut didn’t dampen his confidence, as Gonzalez came out for the fourth and stunned Navarrete when they traded right hands. Navarrete backed up, but still looked for counter punch opportunities.
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) October 16, 2021
Though Gonzalez never stopped trying, it was Navarrete who was the more consistent worker, landing hooks as Gonzalez’s eye closed.
Navarrete, who previously reigned as a world titleholder at 122 pounds, made the second defense of the belt he won last October with a unanimous decision over Ruben Villa.
Gonzalez, who is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, previously lost to Shakur Stevenson in 2019 for the same title he fought for on Friday.
The bout headlined a Top Rank Promotions card which aired on ESPN+.
In the co-main event, local favorite Giovani Santillan (28-0, 15 KOs) remained undefeated with a wide unanimous decision over Angel Ruiz (17-2, 12 KOs) in a ten round welterweight bout. The scores were 100-90 on two cards and 99-91 on the third.
“This is what it’s all about, a great fight in front of my amazing hometown fans. They were cheering for me all night, and it was honor to perform for my people in San Diego,” said Santillan.
The undercard also featured the pro debut of Antonio Mireles, a 6-foot-9, 262-pound Mexican American from Iowa. His opponent Demote Randle somehow outweighed the debutant at 314 pounds, but lasted just two minutes and seven seconds, getting dropped three times to hand the victory to Mireles.