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Abraham Nova makes his case for shot at Emanuel Navarrete, and to be Puerto Rico’s next star

William Encarnacion (L) and Abraham Nova (R) exchange punches during their featherweight fight at Turning Stone Resort Casino on January 15, 2022 in Verona, New York. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)
19
Jan

Abraham Nova may be enjoying some well-earned sun and fun in Jamaica, but the unbeaten featherweight contender already has his mind on his next fight.

Nova (20-0, 15 knockouts) took a few minutes out from his vacation to tell The Ring that he wants to face WBO featherweight titleholder Emanuel Navarrete next, and says he wants that fight next.

“I’ve been ranked, I fought everyone in front of me. I have not said no to one opponent. I’m here to challenge myself and fight the best. And right now, the world champion is Navarrete,” said Nova, 28, of Albany N.Y. by way of Carolina, Puerto Rico.

“I know the fans are asking for it. I feel like it’ll be a good rivalry between Puerto Rico and Mexico.”

Nova is riding high off his dominant eighth round knockout of William Encarnacion, a 2012 Olympian from the Dominican Republic, in the co-featured bout to the Joe Smith Jr. vs. Steve Geffrard, which was carried live in the United States on ESPN. Nova made an impression, both with his in-ring performance, and his striking bleached blond beard, and the mascot he had accompanying him to the ring.

Nova is rated by two of the organizations – the IBF and WBO – but those ratings are at 130 pounds, where he had been fighting before dropping closer to the featherweight limit in his last two bouts, against Richard Pumicpic in August, and then the Encarnacion fight. He also hasn’t fought a bout that was scheduled for twelve rounds, which creates another barrier to making a world title bout.

Still, Nova believes the 27-year-old Navarrete (35-1, 29 KOs) is tailor-made for his style. He says his height (he’s two inches taller than the 5’7” Navarrete), punching power and ring intelligence would slow Navarrete’s aggression.

“I feel like I would dissect him and I would stop all of that pressure stuff. I feel once he feels that power he’s gonna think two or three times before running in here,” said Nova.

“When he steps in there with me it’s not gonna be those that he has with everybody else where he’s just running them out the ring. It’s gonna be the opposite, I’m gonna run him out of the ring.”

David McWater, who manages Nova through his Split-T management firm, says he hadn’t had a chance to speak with Nova’s promoter, Top Rank, but trusts that matchmaker Brad Goodman will know best how to proceed with his career.

I think it will be a big fight. Matchmaking is complicated and I rely very much on Brad Goodman, I think he’s the best at what he does and he’s gonna have the right idea for the next fight, better than what I can come up with,” said McWater, who expects Nova to be back in the ring in April.

If Nova sounds confident, it’s because he has seen just about every style of fighter during his approximately 200-fight amateur career, which started at age 12 after he accompanied some kids to the gym in Albany to try boxing. He stepped in the ring and took a beating, which lit his competitive fire for revenge.

His amateur highlights include winning the 2014 U.S. Nationals, earning a no. 1 ranking in the country, and finishing third in the 2016 U.S. Olympic qualifiers.

While he now calls Albany home, his roots are in Puerto Rico, where he was born to parents from the Dominican Republic, before moving to Albany after his father, a pastor, was assigned to take over a church in the New York State capital city. His father and mother, who is also a pastor, now oversee numerous churches in the U.S. and across Central America. Nova recalls at age 11, when he and his eight siblings drove with their parents in a bus loaded up with food, clothes and toys to Guatemala to donate.

Abraham Nova stopped William Encarnacion in eight in Verona, New York. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images).

Nova didn’t follow his parents into the ministry, but he never imaged becoming a boxer. Instead, he thought he would work as a police officer or study to be a pilot, but found after some time that boxing was his calling.

Beyond just winning a world title, Nova hopes to establish himself as the next big star in Puerto Rico boxing. The island has been one of the most decorated nations in pro boxing history, but has fallen on rough times in the ring, with Miguel Cotto’s retirement in 2017 leaving a void of star power. Nova hopes to fill that void.

“Puerto Rico, they haven’t had a significant champion in awhile and I want to be the one to do that in this era. I feel like my opportunity is coming and I could make it happen,” said Nova, whose favorite Puerto Rican boxers are Hector Camacho Sr. and Felix Trinidad.

Nova has not yet fought in Madison Square Garden, the New York City venue which has hosted many of the top bouts from Puerto Rican stars in years past. He hopes to secure a bout on the March 19 card there, which will be headlined by rising Puerto Rican star Edgar Berlanga against the once-beaten Steve Rolls. Nova may not have any big names on his resume’ yet, but that hasn’t stopped him from aiming high.

“I’ve been told that I was supposed to fight for a world title years back, and then the pandemic happened. I think it’s time, especially after this good performance,” said Nova.

Ryan Songalia has written for ESPN, the New York Daily News, Rappler, Vice and The Guardian, and earned his Master’s degree from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism. He can be reached at [email protected]

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