Emanuel Navarrete and Rey Vargas could become three-division champions within an eight-day span this month.
The Mexican veterans never fought when they owned world titles in the 122-pound and 126-pound divisions, but Vargas thinks a title unification bout versus Navarrete is at least a possibility if they win their upcoming fights for unclaimed 130-pound championships.
Navarrete (36-1, 30 KOs), of San Juan Zitlaltepec, Mexico, will square off against Australia’s Liam Wilson (11-1, 7 KOs) on Friday night for the vacant WBO junior lightweight title. ESPN will televise Navarrete-Wilson as the 12-round main event of a tripleheader from Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona (10 p.m. ET; 7 p.m. PT).
Navarrete was supposed to oppose Oscar Valdez for a title Shakur Stevenson lost on the scale four months ago, but Valdez suffered an undisclosed injury early in December. Mexico’s Valdez (30-1, 23 KOs), a former WBO featherweight and WBO junior lightweight champ, was replaced by Wilson because Wilson was the WBO’s next available leading contender in the 130-pound division.
Vargas (36-0, 22 KOs), of Otumba, Mexico, will face O’Shaquie Foster (19-2, 11 KOs), of Orange, Texas, for the vacant WBC super featherweight title, the other championship Stevenson lost when he came in overweight the day before he beat Brazil’s Robson Conceicao by unanimous decision in their 12-rounder September 23 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Showtime will televise Vargas-Foster on February 11 as the 12-round main event of a tripleheader from Alamodome in San Antonio.
“It probably could [happen], yes,” Vargas said through a translator when asked about boxing Navarrete during a virtual press conference recently. “That’s something that has been talked about ever since we were at 122, when we were at 126. If it does happen at 130, it would be something that would be thrilling to Mexican fans. I’m aware of it. But right now, let’s focus on this fight because it’s all in the present.”
Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., which promotes Valdez and Navarrete, intends to reschedule Navarrete-Valdez if the heavily favored Navarrete wins Friday night. Vargas, who still holds the WBC featherweight title he won by edging the Philippines’ Mark Magsayo (24-1, 16 KOs) in his last fight, isn’t certain he’ll remain in the 130-pound division even if he beats Foster, the WBC’s number one contender in the 130-pound division.
Caesars Sportsbook lists Vargas as a 20-1 favorite to beat Wilson. Vargas is a 3-1 favorite to defeat Foster, according to Caesars Sportsbook.
Navarrete, 28, and Vargas, 32, both will appear at the junior lightweight limit of 130 pounds for the first time in their upcoming championship bouts.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.
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