Sunday, March 26, 2023  |


Emanuel Navarrete halts Liam Wilson in nine-round war, earns vacant WBO 130-pound belt

Emanuel Navarrete is now a three-division titleholder. Photo courtesy of Zanfer Boxing.

Emanuel Navarrete got up from a fourth-round knockdown and wore down Liam Wilson to a ninth-round stoppage on Saturday, earning the vacant WBO 130-pound belt and making him a three-division titleholder. It was a thrilling ESPN-televised main event to a Top Rank promotion at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.

Wilson (11-2, 7 KOs), a bold underdog (as much as 14-1) from Australia, was a little tight during the opening three rounds but the tall and rangy boxer-puncher instantly shifted the complexion of the bout in Round 4 when he wobbled Navarrete with a pair of looping right hands that grazed the back of the Mexican warrior’s head, which set up a flush left hook that put the two-division titleholder on the canvas.

Navarrete (37-1, 31 KOs) had to dig deep into his world-class experience (including spitting out his mouthpiece to gain a few extra seconds during the referee’s 10-Count) to pulled out a minor miracle in surviving the round. From that point, the veteran relied on his massive heart to claw his way back into the fight. That heart was matched by Wilson for the next two rounds, which featured brilliant tow-to-toe action.

Navarrete, The Ring’s No. 1-rated featherweight, wisely attacked Wilson’s body. Wilson continued to nail Navarrete’s head, including a left hook that stunned the odds favorite in the final seconds of Round 6.

The rough-and-tumble action continued in Rounds 7 and 8, but Navarrete clearly got the better of his rival, outworking Wilson with body-head combinations. A straight right in Round 9 sent a spent Wilson to the canvas and while the Aussie got up and bravely tried to survive, he wasn’t able to protect himself and referee Chris Flores waved it off at the 1:57 mark at the behest of Wilson’s corner.

Navarrete, who is only 28 years old but has had his share of ring wars, held the WBO’s 122- and 126-pound belts, engaging in 10 world title bouts over both reigns.

Wilson was a replacement for former two-division titleholder Oscar Valdez, who was ringside. After the fight, Valdez joined Navarrete in the ring to talk up their eventual rescheduled showdown, which should be every bit as entertaining as what fans were treated to on February 4.