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Emanuel Navarrete vacates WBO featherweight title, will remain at 130 pounds

Emanuel Navarrete nails Eduardo Baez during his final defense of the WBO featherweight title in August 2022. (Photo by Mikey Williams/ Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)
Fighters Network

Emanuel Navarrete has decided to vacate the WBO world featherweight title, Top Rank announced Friday. 

The WBO made an official announcement Thursday, receiving a letter on behalf of Navarrete’s team earlier this week, notifying the sanctioning body Navarrete will remain at 130 pounds after winning the vacant WBO world junior lightweight title on February 3, overcoming a knockdown to stop Liam Wilson of Australia in the ninth round at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona. 

“After closely analyzing the situation with my team, we have decided to keep the WBO junior lightweight title,” said Navarrete, who improved to 37-1, 31 knockouts with the win over Wilson. “I feel very happy with the three title defenses that I made at featherweight, but I am also convinced that my future is now at junior lightweight. We are going after the big fights at 130 (pounds).

“I’m grateful for the support that I have always received from my promoter, Top Rank, and the WBO. I will now proudly carry and defend my junior lightweight (world title) belt.”

The WBO also announced Thursday that Isaac Dogboe, a former WBO world junior featherweight titleholder, and Robeisy Ramirez will fight for the vacant WBO world featherweight title on April 1 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The fight will stream live on ESPN+.

The clash between Dogboe and Ramirez, who is ranked No. 9 by The Ring at 126 pounds, was originally scheduled as an interim world title bout that was mandated by the WBO. 

Dogboe (24-2, 15 KOs), who is originally from Accra, Ghana and now resides in Tampa, Florida, has not fought since July 23, defeating Joet Gonzalez by split-decision. Dogboe has won his last four bouts since losing back-to-back fights to Navarrete that took place in 2018 and 2019, respectively. 

Ramirez (11-1, 7 KOs) has excelled since losing his pro debut to Adan Gonzales in August 2019. Ramirez would avenge his loss to Gonzales almost a year later, dominating the fight to win by a one-sided decision.

The 29-year-old, who is originally from Cienfuegos, Cuba and now resides in Gulfport, Florida, stopped Jose Matias Romero in the ninth round of his last bout on October 29. The victory over Romero took place over four months after Ramirez scored a vicious knockout win over Abraham Nova. 

In the co-feature of the April 1 Top Rank card, junior middleweight Xander Zayas (15-0, 10 KOs) of Sunrise, Florida will square off against Ronald Cruz (18-2-1, 12 KOs) of North Hollywood, California in an eight-round bout. 

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]