by Cliff Rold
Is he a potential star or just another beltholder passing through?
A pair of impressive wins over Isaac Dogboe to snare a major title was a good start. Now the real work begins for Mexico’s Emanuel Navarrete. Winning a title can be different than extending a reign. The matchmaking Saturday night (ESPN, 10 PM EST) may not represent genuine peril for Navarrete’s second defense but in a year with several upsets, take nothing for granted.
The platform can’t hurt Navarrete’s chances of building a fan base. He’s big for his division, has heavy hands, brings the action, so far has shown a good chin, and his speed and defense are spotty enough to let that chin get tested.
Can challenger Francisco De Vaca surprise the world?
Let’s get into it.
Stats and Stakes
Title: WBO super bantamweight (2018-Present, 1 Defense)
Previous Titles: None
Weight: 122 lbs.
Hails from: Mexico City, Mexico
Record: 27-1, 23 KO?
Press Rankings: #1 (BoxRec), #2 (TBRB, Boxing Monthly), #3 (Ring), #4 (ESPN)
Record in Major Title Fights: 2-0, 1 KO
Last Five Opponents: 119-26-2 (.816)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: Isaac Dogboe UD12, TKO12
Francisco De Vaca
Title/Previous Titles: None
Weight: 122 lbs.
Hails from: Phoenix, Arizona
Record: 20-0, 6 KO
Press Rankings: Unranked
Record in Major Title Fights: 1st major title fight
Last Five Opponents: 122-55-6 (.672)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: None
The Pick: On paper, this looks like the sort of showcase fight where Navarrete could be allowed to look like a monster. Neither he nor De Vaca is super fast but there appears to be a sizable power and strength edge for Navarrete. De Vaca hasn’t faced a ton of names, and barely scrapes the top ten of the WBO, but veteran Christian Esquivel is rarely an easy out. He can fight a bit and isn’t shy about getting inside and banging to the body. Navarrete took plenty of shots against Dogboe in both fights but the Ghanaian couldn’t budge him. De Vaca is a bigger man but without a proven knockout punch, odds are as long as they look. Navarrete has talked about wanting unification fights at 122 lbs. Expect him to be a step closer after an impressive win on Saturday.
Rold Picks 2019: 47-12
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org