By Robert Aaron Contreras
Super bantamweight champion Emmanuel Navarrete took care of business so efficiently Saturday night, he is already gearing up for a return to the ring next month.
Navarrete (28-1, 24 KO) banged away at Francisco De Vaca (20-1, 6 KO), leaving no doubt to who is the most fearsome 122-pound fighter in the world, taking out his challenger inside of three rounds at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles.
With a blood spattered across De Vaca’s face, and his countenance sinking—his consciousness soon to fall away too—referee Raul Caiz Jr. was left with no choice but to step between the outgunned man and Navarrete in the latter part of the third round.
The quick knockout was impressive enough to convince Top Rank Promotions CEO Bob Arum to bring him back in time for the undercard to Tyson Fury’s heavyweight battle:
“He is Mexican—he’s proud to be Mexican. Sept. 14 is Mexican Independence Day weekend and the best fighter in Mexico will be there defending his title,” unabashedly promoting his man.
Navarrete was locked and loaded from the onset. His massive 72-inch reach—compared to De Vaca’s 65”—was scary as ever. The challenger got a taste of it in the opening round. But it was in Round 2 where those freakish arms began oscillating from every angle.
The Mexican champion did a great job interchanging uppercuts—an uppercut, always the bigger man’s ideal punch. Even when De Vaca dug deep for short spurts, forcing Navarrete backwards, the taller puncher would sling left uppercuts from seemingly the opposite corner of the ring.
Then under 30 seconds left in the second period, Navarrete dropped De Vaca at the end of a three-punch combo: back-to-back uppercuts followed by a short, crisp right hand.
De Vaca to his credit got up and looked for a scrap in the fateful third inning. But more punishment was all he had to look forward to. Navarrete hurled his weight into long hooks—windmills that would make another heavyweight champion jealous. Punched into the ropes, a verbal warning from the referee could be heard to the backdrop of a stream of punches clinking off De Vaca’s dome.
Never short on heart, De Vaca did take himself off the ropes of a moment or two. But was back on the defensive as Navarrete’s punches refused to let up. Blood permeating along De Vaca’s face, his hands falling, tension rising as a result of a deadly summer in boxing, referee Caiz Jr. waved everything off 1:54 into the third round.
“I want to continue the tradition of Mexican boxing in L.A.” a beaming Navarrete said, celebrating punching in his second title defense. “I want to fill a lot of arenas.”
Next month, he will help fill a bustling T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas with Fury fronting the bill.
After that? Bernando Osuna, for one, speculating on ESPN’s post-fight production Navarrete’s future at the super bantamweight limit, citing the champion’s enormous size and what seems to be a daunting weight cut.
For now however he is the best in the class.
Jesse Magdaleno (27-1, 18 KO) def. Rafael Rivera (27-4-2, 18 KO) via technical decision
The classic boxer-brawler mixup between Magdaleno and Rivera came to premature end in the ninth round when an elbow worsened a cut on Magdaleno’s nose that he acquired from a headbutt in the fourth period.
Judges Edward Hernandez and Fernando Villarreal scored the fight 89-81 and Zachary Young had it 88-82, all for Magdanelo.
Magdaleno ran rings around his opponent through the first three rounds, zinging punches up the middle between Rivera’s raised gloves.
Rivera turned the tide in the fourth round, biting down on his mouthpiece—barreling in in such a way that caused a gnarly headbutt—but closed the inning plugging away with right and left hooks.
The pressure continued in the fifth round. But Magdaleno’s feet were back under him for Round 6. And a left uppercut rattled Rivera in the sixth period. Magdaleno might have ended the show there if he didn’t get so overzealous pouring on wild punches.
It was a more sound attack from him in the first minute of the ninth round and a counter left hand put Rivera on the ground. Eventually a dazed attack from Rivera ended in an inadvertent elbow and referee Thomas Taylor again called time.
Consultation with the ringside physician spelled the end and Taylor sent the fight to the cards.
In the post-fight interview, Magdaleno summarized his night well.
“It’s just part of the sport, he’s an aggressive fighter,” he said. “This is boxing. I felt great. I felt strong. I felt better than ever. I took off the ring rust. We knew he was gonna come forward so we put our boxing shoes on and outboxed him.”