Emanuel Navarrete insisted there was never any doubt he would overcome the worst moments of his eventual title win in a third weight division.
There was some concern from his next potential opponent, however.
A pre-existing injury forced Oscar Valdez into the role of ringside observer as he watched 'El Vaquero' earn a ninth-round knockout of Australia’s Liam Wilson (11-2, 7KOs) in their ESPN main event Friday evening at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona. Navarrete suffered the first knockdown of his career late in round four, having beaten the count but was clearly dazed and needed much of the fifth round to fully recover.
“A lot of mixed emotions for me tonight,” Valdez admitted to ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna shortly after he joined Navarrete in the ring. “Obviously, we wanted Vaquero to win. We wanted the belts to stay in Mexico. Now we can make this fight. Hopefully we can make it later this year.”
Navarrete rallied over the final rounds, including a ninth-round knockdown before he forced a stoppage at 1:57 of that same round when Wilson was no longer able to defend himself.
Mexico’s Valdez (30-1, 22KOs) was originally tabbed to face his countryman on this night, with the vacant WBO junior lightweight title at stake. The same injury that forced Valdez to withdraw from a planned November 12 ESPN-televised bout from Las Vegas, never fully healed in time to proceed with his highly anticipated showdown with Navarrete (37-1, 31KOs).
Instead, the two-time Olympian and former two-division titlist was limited to a spectator's view for Friday’s instant classic. Wilson nearly derailed plans to reschedule Navarrete-Valdez, which could occur later this spring or in the second half of the year should both boxers take interim bouts. Navarrete dug deep to claim his third divisional title, which he would proudly defend versus Valdez, a former WBO featherweight and WBC junior lightweight titlist.
“Hopefully we can come back to Arizona and make this fight happen,” suggested Valdez. “We want another Marco Antonio Barrera-Erik Morales type fight. I think our styles can make that happen. We can do it here in Arizona or anywhere in the world.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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