Oscar Valdez (L) and Emanuel Navarrete (R) pose after Emanuel’s victory over Liam Wilson at Desert Diamond Arena on February 03, 2033 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)
On Saturday, Emanuel Navarrete will put his WBO junior lightweight title on the line against Oscar Valdez at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
The all-Mexican showdown will be broadcast live on ESPN beginning at 10.00 p.m. ET/ 7:00 p.m. PT.
Valdez, The Ring’s No. 1-rated junior lightweight, was a standout amateur, appearing at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, and winning bronze at the 2009 World Championships. The Mexican star claimed the vacant WBO featherweight title by blasting out Matias Rueda (TKO 2), in July 2016, and made six defenses. Notable triumphs came against Miguel Marriaga (UD 12) and Scott Quigg (UD 12) before he moved to 130.
Valdez scored a career-best win when he knocked out Miguel Berchelt (KO 10) for the WBC title. The 32-year-old made one successful defense, struggling to get past Robson Conceicao (UD 12) before losing to WBO ruler Stevenson (UD 12) in a unification bout. He knocked off some ring-rust by out-boxing former for Adam Lopez (UD 10).
Navarrete burst onto the scene to claim the WBO junior featherweight title at the expense of Isaac Dogboe (UD 12) in December 2018. The heavy-handed Mexican stopped Dogboe (TKO 12) in the first of five defenses before moving up in weight.
The 28-year-old bested previously unbeaten Ruben Villa (UD 12) to claim the WBO 126-pound title. He made a further three defenses, including dominating tough Joet Gonzalez (UD 12). Most recently he became a three-weight WBO beltholder by getting off the canvas to stop Liam Wilson (TKO 9).
Navarrete (37-1, 31 knockouts) is younger and fresher, but he’ll be facing the best opponent to date, will he rise to the occasion or be found wanting? Valdez (31-1, 23 KOs) is the more versatility of the two but has more miles on the clock, at some point this will turn into a war, does he have it within himself to hold off Navarrete in a war of attrition. Navarrete’s power has turned the course of some of his fights in his favor, how will his power carry against an elite 130-pounder? Valdez hasn’t been very active; will that catch up with him or has the rest done him good?
Online gambling group William Hill lists Valdez as a slight 8/13 (-163) favorite, while Navarrete is priced at 13/10 (+130), the draw is 16/1 (+1600).
Here’s how the experts see it:
DOUG FISCHER: VALDEZ BY UD
“This should be a good scrap. Navarrete is a rugged, awkward volume-puncher with sneaky inside game. Valdez is a power-hitting technician with an Olympic-level amateur background and a ton of heart and desire. Add Mexican pride to the mix and we’ve got a potential battle of attrition. I view both as being shop-worn, which can also add to the likelihood of them scrappin’ it out, but of the two veterans my hunch is that Navarrete has more wear and tear on his body. Never mind the official scorecards, I think that 12-round battle with Joet Gonzalez took something out of Navarrete. Gonzalez was outpointed but he burned the hell out of Navarrete’s liver with his body attack. The defending beltholder has struggled in his last two fights but remains dangerous. I think Navarrete will outwork Valdez and do his share of damage, but the hunch here is that the faster, harder and more accurate single shots will be landed by the two-time Mexican Olympian, who will hurt or drop Navarrete at some point but will also mix movement into his game plan as he did with Miguel Berchelt before he walked the veteran puncher into a KO of the Year candidate. We can’t count out Navarrete’s valor and toughness, so my pick is Valdez by competitive decision.”
ANSON WAINWRIGHT: VALDEZ UD
“We had two mega fights in late July and boxing will look to keep that momentum going with this fight. I don’t see it disappointing. You have two fighters who like to go forward and engage in action packed wars. I think this will be a war of attrition and has all the ingredients to be a classic. My big question is does Valdez have it within himself to go through this kind of war again. I have a feeling the time off will have served him well and while I think he’ll box well early he will get drawn into a war. I think both will go back and forth but Valdez is a more rounded fighter and that will be the difference. I think Valdez wins an ultra-competitive fight by hard fought unanimous decision.”
LEE GROVES: VALDEZ UD
“This should be an excellent fight to watch given Navarrete’s unorthodox volume-punching style and Valdez’s precise fundamental approach. Neither will have problems finding the other in terms of location, but the points of separation are that Navarrete is more active but is also easier to hit. Valdez has the tools — and the experience — to slow Navarrete’s pace a bit as well as exploit the weaknesses exposed by Liam Wilson enough to earn a second reign at 130.”
DIEGO MORILLA: VALDEZ PTS
“It’s easy to see why Navarrete’s longer reach and higher level of aggression could be deciding factors for a lot of people, but I see Valdez’s better knowledge of boxing fundamentals and his relentless style doing the trick this time, especially if he manages to avoid being dropped. A walk in the park it won’t be, for either one of them, but I am betting on a stronger boxing performance by Valdez, at least just enough to earn him the nod this time.”
MARTY MULCAHEY: NAVARRETE PTS
“An intriguing clash of countrymen that takes thoughts back to the 1970s and 1980s where this was a common occurrence. The consistency of Emanuel Navarrete is admirable and looks like it will finally be rewarded with marquee fights beginning with this showdown against Oscar Valdez. While Shakur Stevenson did not ruin Valdez (he had a good comeback result) he sure did lay a blueprint to victory, even though Navarrete’s skillset can only follow that haphazardly. Navarette’s punches are wider and from different angles, with less speed but quirky angles make them tricky, but Valdez has slowed down from his prime as well. I can’t see this being a boring fight, it has FOTY potential, and am going with the swarming style of Navarrete impressing the judges into a unanimous or majority decision. In the final analysis, I am going with Navarette’s career arc going even higher while Valdez is aging and stagnated a bit.”
NORM FRAUENHEIM: VALDEZ SD
“The smart pick is a rematch. Valdez versus fellow Mexican Emanuel Navarrete figures to be close, perhaps controversial enough to demand a sequel, Navarrete has some measurable advantages. At 28, he’s younger than the 32-year-old Valdez. He’s an inch taller. Mostly, he has a six-inch advantage in reach. But Valdez has all the intangibles. He’s been at 130 pounds longer than Navarrete, who won a junior lightweight title in his division debut. Valdez also figures to have a hometown edge. He grew up in Nogales, nearly 200 miles south of Desert Diamond Arena. His fans will be there. Above all, Valdez is rarely in an easy fight. He knows how to win the close ones. He’ll win this one.”
DUKE MCKENZIE (FORMER THREE-DIVISION TITLEHOLDER/TV ANALYST): VALDEZ MD
“When two Mexicans fight, you are assured of a war. The WBO junior lightweight title is on the line. Valdez has mixed with some of the best boxers around today, like Shakur Stevenson. He lost on points but no disgrace but has had some notably good wins like his fight of the year against Miguel Berchelt. Navarrete is a three-division world champion, he will look to keep this fight at long range as he can be hurt as seen in his last fight when he had to get off the canvas to win. Valdez will surely see this as his last chance of becoming world champion again, providing there are not too many miles on his clock Valdez can get a hard-earned points verdict by majority decision.”
MARCO ANTONIO BARRERA (FORMER THREE-WEIGHT WORLD CHAMPION): UNDECIDED
“The fight between Navarrete and Valdez is coming to add another Mexican vs. Mexican showdown. It’s going to be an explosive fight with two fighters that have completely different fighting styles. Valdez is going to start strong looking for the counter and moving around the ring away from Navarrete’s reach. But it’s gonna come to a point where, because of Navarrete’s style, his aggressiveness and that long right hand will cause Valdez to stand in the middle of the ring, throw punches and leave the fight plan of moving behind. The winner will of course be the public, it’s a fight for the fans. I’m neutral, can’t choose a side because I’m great friends with both of them. May the best fighter win.”
TOM GRAY (FORMER MANAGING EDITOR FOR THE RING): VALDEZ UD
“I really like Valdez in this matchup. The only fighter to beat him is Shakur Stevenson, who has a strong case for being the finest technician in the world today. Navarrete is from the pressure fighter mold and that suits Valdez’s style. I think Oscar can box off his man and win the vast majority of the rounds.”
JAMEL HERRING (FORMER JUNIOR LIGHTWEIGHT TITLEHOLDER): NAVARRETE UD
“Tough fight for both individuals, mainly because it’ll be an absolute war between two Mexican champions. If I’m in Oscar’s corner though, I’d advise him to take a page out of his strategy that he implemented against Berchelt. Navarrete on the other hand needs to impose his will and don’t allow the smaller man in Valdez to get his feet set for counter attacks. I think Valdez will try to box in the early stages of the fight but by Round 4, it’ll sway into a war, giving Navarrete the edge. I’m picking Navarrete by unanimous decision.”
WAYNE MCCULLOUGH (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/ TRAINER): VALDEZ PTS
“I believe Navarrete will try to use his long reach to keep Valdez at bay and try to set up straight rights to the head as Valdez comes in. If he does this, I think he can get the win. Valdez must get past the long jabs of Navarrete and stay close, working the body and head to upset Navarrete’s pattern. If this happens, I think Valdez can win. I’m slightly favoring Valdez to win a close fight.”
JOE ROTONDA (MATCHMAKER, MAIN EVENTS): NAVARRETE UD
“This fight has all the makings for Fight of the Year in my opinion, both guys are guaranteed to bring it. I think the biggest factor here is going to be Navarrete’s range, he has incredible reach and throws punches from all different angles. He’s no defensive wizard though, he gets hit, and he is most definitely going to get hit in this one too. However, as long as he can overcome the onslaught that Valdez is going to bring, I think he will start to pick Valdez apart from a distance en route to a unanimous decision win.”
ALEX STEEDMAN (COMMENTATOR): VALDEZ PTS
“Navarrete is a handful despite often looking beatable. But it’s been more than a decade since that happened and his is a suffocating, bullying presence inside the ring. Valdez will be tested. But Oscar has the advantages in terms of both ability and speed; the decisive factors for me. How Valdez ages will be interesting because he’s always wound up his punches and a drop in speed could be an issue at some point and remember Navarrete has a 6” reach advantage. If Valdez can turn in the technical, back foot beauty we saw against Berchelt, then he can control and win this.”
OSWALDO KUCHLE (PROMOTER, PROMOCIONES DEL PUEBLO): VALDEZ
“Valdez has more skills and is faster than Navarrete. I think Navarrete’s style will suit Valdez but he needs to stay away from Navarrete and the ropes. Hit and move.”
MARIO ABRAHAM (MANAGER): NAVARRETE PTS
“When the fight was first announced, I picked Navarrete but then Navarrete didn’t look too great against the Australian and Valdez looked very good in his last fight. Now, I think it’s a close fight. I pick Navarrete by close decision.”
RUDY HERNANDEZ (TRAINER): VALDEZ KO
“Here’s a fight! Quantity vs. Quality. Navarrete is a pressure fighter who throws punches and is in great condition every fight. Valdez is a little more conservative and very effective when he lets those hands go. Here’s a fight that just can’t miss, with excitement written all over it. I believe this fight as long as it lasts will be a nail-bitter. Navarrete will pressure and stay on top of Valdez, who will try and keep a certain distance and counter. In an exiting fight, Valdez will win by knockout.”
BOB SANTOS (MANAGER/ TRAINER): NAVARRETE MD
“Anytime you get two Mexican fighters you know they’re going to get after it, there’s no two ways about it. Too much pride. I think Navarrete will be much more active and I like Navarrete by majority decision.”
BOBBY BENTON (TRAINER): VALDEZ TKO
“I think Valdez wins, he does better when guys walk to him. Valdez late stoppage.”
ROBERT DIAZ (MATCHMAKER): VALDEZ UD
“As a fan of Mexican-vs.-Mexican battles this is another classic in the making. Both have tremendous heart and will, both want to win at any cost. Valdez has shown it time and time again fighting with a broken jaw and Navarrete not backing down when hurt. The difference is talent, while Navarrete is awkward and it works for him, Valdez is very talented and can adjust. I don’t see a KO but I do see Valdez winning an entertaining 12-round unanimous decision.”
RAUL MARQUEZ (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/ COMMENTATOR): NAVARRETE TKO 10
“Navarrete younger, fresher he’s on a win streak. Valdez has been inactive just one fight since loss to Shakur. [Valdez] fights one way. Navarrete is tricky, he can adapt. I feel Navarrete stops him round 10.”
Final Tally: Valdez 13-6 with 1 undecided
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on
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