Emanuel Navarrete will remain put in his new weight division,
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that the three-division titlist has vacated the WBO featherweight title. The move comes less than a week after Navarrete claimed the WBO junior lightweight title following his off-the-canvas, ninth-round stoppage of Liam Wilson. The February 3 vacant title fight was conditionally approved by the Puerto Rico-headquartered sanctioning body, who established a ten-day deadline for Navarrete to decide at which weight he would remain.
“Please be advised that today, the WBO confirmed written communication on behalf of Team Navarrete confirming that Vaquero will stay in the Jr. Lightweight Division,” WBO Championship Committee chairman Luis Batista-Salas informed BoxingScene.com. “Therefore, he is relinquishing the WBO Featherweight Championship.”
The available featherweight belt will be at stake in the previously announced Robeisy Ramirez-Isaac Dogboe fight which will headline an April 1 ESPN telecast from Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The bout was previously prepared to move forward with the interim WBO featherweight title at stake if necessary, though it was always speculated that Navarrete would not return to featherweight.
Thursday’s announcement marks the end of a 30-month title reign for Mexico’s Navarrete (37-1, 31KOs), who claimed the belt in an October 2020 points win over Ruben Villa. That victory came less than two years after Navarrete won his first major title when he claimed the WBO junior featherweight title from an unbeaten Dogboe in their December 2018 title fight at Madison Square Garden Theater in New York City.
The third title win came with a major scare. Navarrete suffered his first career knockdown, when Wilson (11-2, 7KOs) floored him late in round four. Navarrete rallied to twice drop and eventually stop the visiting Australian contender in the ninth round of their ESPN headliner from Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
Navarrete became Mexico’s eleventh three-division titlist with the victory and the sixth fighter in history to win titles at 122, 126 and 130 pounds. The win over Wilson ran his record to 11-0 in title fights spanning those three weights. It also put him on the clock, as he entered the fight with the WBO featherweight title still in tow.
WBO Regulation 5(d) states that “no WBO Champion may hold WBO titles in more than one Weight Division. If a WBO Champion wins a WBO Championship in a higher or lower division, the WBO Champion shall have Ten (10) Days to determine which Weight Division.”
Dogboe (24-2, 15KOs) is now in position to become a two-division titlist. The 28-year-old from Accra, Ghana—who now lives in Tampa and trains out of Barry Hunter’s HeadBangers Gym in Washington, D.C.—won the WBO 122-pound title via eleventh-round knockout of unbeaten Jessie Magdaleno in April 2018. Just one successful defense followed before losing the belt Navarrete later that year followed by a significantly more one-sided knockout loss in their May 2019 rematch.
Four wins have followed for Dogboe, including a ten-round, split decision over former title challenger Joet Gonzlaez last July 23 in Hinckley, Minnesota.
Ramirez (11-1, 7KOs) established himself as a featherweight threat in a terrific 2022 campaign.
The two-time Olympic Gold medalist for Cuba—who now lives in Gulfport, Florida—scored three knockouts on the year, including a fifth-round stoppage of unbeaten Abraham Nova last June 18 at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York City. The win came four months after Ramirez knocked out Eric “Not Jake” Donovan in the third round on the February 26 Josh Taylor-Jack Catterall undercard in Glasgow, Scotland.
In his most recent start, Ramirez stopped Jose Matias Romero in the ninth round on the October 29 Vasiliy Lomachenko-Jamaine Ortiz undercard at Hulu Theater. The 29-year-old Cuban southpaw has won eleven in a row since suffering a stunning defeat in his pro debut versus Adan Gonzalez, which he avenged just eleven months later.
The WBO 130-pound title was previously held by Shakur Stevenson (19-0, 9KOs), who also held the WBC belt. He was stripped of both for failure to make weight ahead of a September 23 points win over Robson Conceicao in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey.
Navarrete was due to face former two-division titlist Oscar Valdez (30-1, 22KOs) for the vacant WBO 130-pound title. Valdez had to withdraw due to a prior back injury which didn’t fully heal in time to go through with the February date.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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