By: Sean Crose
There used to be an ad on local New York television that featured a professional wrestler sprawled on a psychiatrist’s couch. The over the top wrestler was complaining that he couldn’t be his rage-filled self anymore now that he had gotten such a great deal on a car. I find myself thinking back on that ad all these years later. Why? Because the wrestler reminds me of contemporary boxing fans. We often seem to get by solely by griping about the sport. All things considered, however, this is a great time to be a fan. Names like Inoue, Crawford, Davis and others have delivered big in big matches. And the positive trend might well continue this weekend when Emmanuel Navarette defends his junior lightweight crown against former titlist Oscar Valdez Saturday night in Glendale, Arizona.
This is a terrific fight on paper, one which may well translate into a great fight in the ring. Boasting a 37-1 record, the 28 year old Navarette has won all but six of his close to forty fights by knockout. Indeed, the fighter who goes by the name of Vaquero (Cowboy in English) last saw action last winter when he won a terrific fight against Liam Wilson. Both men went down, but ultimately, it was Navarette who walked out of the ring that night with the WBO title in his possession courtesy of having stopped Wilson in the ninth. The truth is that Navarette’s lone loss came via a four rounder in only his sixth professional fight, and that was all the way back in 2012 – over a decade ago.
Needless to say, the 31-1 Valdez knows what it’s like to be a champion – and aims to be one again as of Saturday night. Like Navarette, Valdez has only lost once – and that was to pound for pound level fighter Shakur Stevenson. Aside from that the 32 year old has only fought once, a ten round decision over Adam Lopez just this past May. Now he has a chance to win back a world title, a motivating factor if ever there was one. It’s good to keep in mind that Valdez won the WBC junior lightweight title by knocking out Miguel Berchelt back in 2021. In short, the guy knows how to close the show. As, of course, does Navarette. There’s a reason why this one is highly anticipated.
Navrette-Valdez will be broadcast live by ESPN starting at 10 PM eastern time on Saturday.
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