Mike Coppinger, ESPNReading: 5 minutes.
Glendale, Ariz. – Emmanuel Navarrete plied his trademark punches from bewildering angles, while Oscar Valdez, his oddly bulging right eye, searched for a fight-changing left hook.
That counterblow landed several times during the 130-pound title bout between the two Mexican boxers Saturday night, but the blows never forced Navarrete to stumble. Navarrete’s punch volume came in combinations of four, five and even six as Valdez held himself during the shootout.
In a bloody fight, Navarrete (38-1, 31 KO’s) retained his WBO super featherweight title via unanimous decision by scores of 116-112, 118-110 and 119-109. ESPN Digital scored it 117-111.
“I’m glad I was part of this … the next great chapter in the history of Mexican boxing,” Navarrete, 28, said after the fight. “I am happy and thank Oscar for the great fight we had.”
“Thank God, I won,” he added. “I appreciate what he’s done in the ring. He’s a Mexican warrior. If people want a rematch, they’ll demand it.”
Round after round, Navarrete fired punches from awkward angles and rarely fell to his feet. He unwound his left and right hands into a ring with strange trajectories while constantly moving. He totaled an astonishing 1,038 punches in the fight, more than double the output of Valdez, who threw just 436.
Valdez (31-2, 23 KO’s) was content to move on and trade Navarrete, a strategy that rarely works. When he’s down, he’s often sorely missing his swings. However, he landed a powerful left hook, the same punch that brutally knocked out Miguel Berchelt in 2021 to win the WBC 130-pound title.
When Valdez dug Navarrete with a left counter hook in the second round and the champion did not budge, it was clear that trouble awaited the challenger.
Slow but steady, Valdez’ right eye closed and turned purple under the pressure of Navarrete’s attack. Even when Navarrete showed signs of hurting his right hand, he continued to throw it without hesitation.
“It was a little swelling in my right hand,” Navarrete said. “But the harder I hit it, the harder it got. But I had to get through it.”
Navarrete entered the fight as ESPN’s second-ranked super featherweight after he defeated Australian Liam Wilson to win the vacant title in February. Wilson stepped in to replace Valdez, who had been injured for six months and almost worked it out. Wilson scored a fourth-round knockdown of Navarrete’s 130-pound debut, but the Mexican rallied to stop him in the ninth round.
On Saturday night, Navarrete not only picked up a second win of £130, but the biggest win of his career.
“He’s a warrior,” said Valdez, who lived in Tucson, Arizona, for part of his childhood. “I did my best. We did our best. He’s a warrior. He’s a real hero.”
“I’m sorry I let everyone down,” Valdez added. “I feel terrible. I wanted to give everyone a great fight. I hope you enjoyed the fight. I hope I come back strong.”
Olympian Valdez, 32, came off twice with a swollen face and bad bruises as a result of the beating Navarrete had inflicted. Of course, he is no stranger to fighting under difficult circumstances.
In his 2018 Featherweight title defense against Scott Quigg, Valdez fought through a broken jaw to get a decision. His jaw was then closed.
He’s been knocked down several times in his career, but always went for less in his fight last year against pound-earning talent Shakur Stephenson. Now for the second time in three matches, Valdez is looking to bounce back from the disappointment.
Meanwhile, Navarrete seems to be getting better with each fight and each new weight class. He beat ESPN’s ratings top boxer at 130 lbs and was once again able to beat his opponent with not only great power but also concussive power.
Both will continue to order; A champion in his top weight class who constantly delivers action fights. The other one is in the long list of brave fighters from Mexico.
Card results august 12th in glendale arizona
• Emmanuel Navarrete G DU-12/12 Oscar Valdez, Navarrete retains the WBO super featherweight title
• Richard Torrez Jr. G (TKO-1/10) Willie Jake Jr., Heavy
• Antonio Meirelles G (TKO-6/6) Djuan Calloway, heavy
• Emiliano Vargas G (TKO-2/4) Jorge Luis Marquez Alvarado, lightweight
• Sergio Leon Rodriguez G (TKO-2/6) Eduardo Ayala, Super Middleweight
• Ricardo Rovalcaba G (TKO-2/6) Adrian Urban, very lightweight
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