Boxing’s most active reigning titleholder is now required to provide a status update regarding his recent injury.
Emanuel Navarrete was served with a medical certification request by the WBO, whose titles he has held at three weights including his current junior lightweight reign. The order came shortly after he revealed in a Facebook post his recent surgery to repair a recurring injury to his left hand which was further aggravated in his recent twelve-round majority draw versus Robson Conceicao.
The procedure was minimized as ‘minor’ by Navarrete, who hopes to return in the first quarter of the new year. The WBO, however, would prefer a more substantial update. A letter was sent on Monday to Top Rank legal counsel Jeremy Koegel, representing Navarrete and which noted online media reports that Navarrete “underwent surgery performed on his left hand at the Hospital Mexico Americano in Guadalajara, Mexico. According to the referenced article[s], Mr. Navarrete will be able to return to active competition in early 2024.
“Based on the foregoing, Mr. Navarrete is hereby ordered to submit within the next 10 days a detailed medical
explanation of his injury, findings, recovery prognosis, and his physician’s opinion as to when will he be physically
and medically cleared to compete and return to active competition. Failure to comply with this order will result in Mr. Navarrete waiving all rights hereunder and with the Committee proceeding per WBO Regulations of World Championship Contests.”
Most cases under these circumstances are normally resolved with the submission of a certified medical report.
Still, the timing is odd given Navarrete’s long-standing relationship with the organization. His draw versus Conceicao was his third WBO junior lightweight title fight of 2023, having won the belt in an off-the-canvas knockout win over Australia’s Liam Wilson in February at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
The same venue saw the 28-year-old from San Juan Zitlaltepec, Mexico defend the belt in his biggest win to date, a twelve-round, unanimous decision victory over two-time Mexican Olympian and former two-division champ Oscar Valdez on August 12. The bout was meant to take place in February but was postponed when Valdez was not fully healed from a prior back injury.
The win strengthened Navarrete’s case to receive ‘Super Champion’ designation by the WBO prior to its annual convention earlier this fall. With it comes the privilege of extra time between mandatory title defenses and the freedom to pursue bigger fights, particularly in the next highest or lowest weight division.
It’s been widely speculated that Navarrete will seek to enforce that status to gain a favorable ranking at lightweight, where the WBO title was recently vacated by former undisputed champion Devin Haney. Such rumors were not yet substantiated by Navarrete and his team, as their primary goal remains the hope to further unify the division.
For now, Navarrete’s immediate goal will be to provide the WBO with the information required to further represent the organization whose titles he has held at three different weights over the past five years.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox