It took some time for Emanuel Navarrete to warm up. But when he did, that was all he wrote. Navarrete defended his WBO featherweight world title with a sixth-round stoppage over Eduardo Baez on Saturday evening at Pechanga Arena.
Baez (21-3-2, 7 KOs), from Mexicali, Mexico, appeared on his way to a shocking upset until a body shot floored him for the count.
Navarrete (36-1, 30 KOs) was trailing on two of the three judges’ cards (50-45 and 48-47) at the time of the stoppage, while one card had Navarrete ahead 49-46.
Navarrete had not fought for more than 10 months, his longest layoff since winning his first world title in December 2018. The rust came off in a flash in the sixth round, and now Navarrete can look ahead to future title defenses at featherweight or perhaps a move up to junior lightweight.
“I expected a fight like this. I never underestimated Eduardo Baez. I knew that he was an excellent fighter and the fact that he hit pretty hard. It was a lot more complicated than I anticipated. But then came that shot, and I was able to finish him,” Navarrete said.
“That’s a very Mexican punch. It comes with my blood. And you can see, I don’t throw a perfect left hook like you’re used to seeing. But this one came out perfect for me. And you saw the result because not many guys can take that shot.”