Emanuel Navarrete insisted prior to fight week that he is not yet done with the featherweight division.
That said, the 28-year-old Mexican looked comfortable at Thursday’s weigh-in ahead of his bid to become a three-division titlist. Navarrete was 129.2 pounds for his scheduled twelve-round fight with Australia’s Liam Wilson, who checked in at a career-light 126.3 pounds for his U.S. debut.
The two will meet for the vacant WBO junior lightweight title this Friday, headlining an ESPN tripleheader beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET from Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
Navarrete (36-1, 30KOs) looked far more replenished than the previous time he had to make weight for a fight. The two-division and reigning WBO featherweight titlist needed two tries to get within the featherweight limit for his August 20 title defense versus countryman Eduardo Baez. Navarrete looked equally sluggish through five rounds before he flipped the switch and closed the show with a one-punch, sixth-round knockout to defend the WBO 126-pound crown for the third time and run his record to a perfect 10-0 in title fights.
Wilson (11-1, 7KOs) enters his first career title fight, which also marks his first pro bout outside of Australia. The 26-year-old junior lightweight avenged his lone career defeat two fights ago, scoring a second-round knockout of Joe Naynoy as part of his current two-fight win streak. He was due to face England’s Archie Sharp in a previously scheduled January 28 Showtime event in Las Vegas before he was tabbed to replace an injured Oscar Valdez (30-1, 22KOs) in Friday’s main event.
The co-feature pits unbeaten junior welterweight contender Arnold Barboza Jr. (27-0, 10KOs) versus former two-division titlist Jose Pedraza (29-4-1, 14KOs) in a scheduled ten-round affair.
Los Angeles’ Barboza was 139.2 pounds for his first fight since a ten-round, unanimous decision victory over Danielto Zorrilla in their battle of unbeaten contenders last July 15 in Temecula, California.
Pedraza weighed 138.7 pounds for a fight that comes less than two months after a missed golden opportunity. The former junior lightweight and lightweight titlist from Cidra, Puerto Rico was due to face former unified lightweight champ Teofimo Lopez last December 10 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. However, he fell ill and withdrew, leaving him out of the ring since a ten-round draw with Richard Commey last August 27 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Opening the telecast, heavyweights Richard Torrez Jr. (4-0, 4KOs) and James Bryant (6-2, 4KOs) collide in a scheduled six-round affair.
Torrez—a 2020 Olympic Silver medalist from Tulare, California—tipped the scales at 222.2 pounds, his lightest thus far as a pro. Pittsburgh’s Bryant was 253.4 pounds, his heaviest since returning to the ring in 2019 after a nine-year absence.
Below are the weights for the rest of the undercard, which airs on ESPN+ beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Andres Cortes (18-0, 10KOs), Las Vegas, 131.2 pounds vs. Luis Melendez (17-2, 13KOs), Bayamon, Puerto Rico, 130.6 pounds—10 rounds, junior lightweight
Nico Ali Walsh (7-0, 5KOs), Las Vegas via Chicago, 159.8 pounds vs. Eduardo Ayala (9-2-1, 3KOs), Phoenix, 160.9 pounds—6 rounds, middleweight
Lindolfo Delgado (16-0, 13KOs), Monterrey, Mexico, 142.1 pounds vs. Clarence Booth (21-6, 13KOs), Saint Petersburg, Florida, 142.4 pounds—8 rounds, junior welterweight
Emiliano Vargas (2-0, 2KOs), Las Vegas via Oxnard, California, 133.4 pounds vs. Francisco Duque (1-1, 0KOs), Baytown, Texas, 135.4* pounds (was 136.5 on first try; contract limit 134)—4 rounds, lightweight
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox