Plans are in the works for WBO featherweight world titlist Emanuel Navarrete to make his second defense against mandatory challenger Joet Gonzalez, both camps told BoxingScene on Monday.
Navarrete, the former WBO junior featherweight titleholder, moved up to featherweight in October and outpointed Ruben Villa for the vacant 126-pound belt and then made his first defense by dropping Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz four times in an action-packed 12th-round knockout victory on Saturday night in the main event of the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Florida.
“(WBO president) Paco (Valcarcel) said he would prefer for us to do Navarrete against the mandatory (next). The kid is a good fighter Golden Boy has, Joet Gonzalez,” Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, Navarrete’s co-promoter with Zanfer Promotions, said to BoxingScene.com.
Earlier on Saturday, Arum spoke to Gonzalez manager Frank Espinoza about the prospect of Gonzalez facing the Navarrete-Diaz winner next.
“I had a conversation with Bob on Saturday night before the fight and told him whoever won we wanted the winner. Bob was on board doing that fight and said he would reach out to (Golden Boy Promotions president) Eric Gomez to make it happen. That’s a fight I am looking forward to.
“Joet has all the tools to beat Navarrete even though he is a great champion and has an awkward style and throws punches from everywhere. I believe that Joet has the tools to beat this guy.”
Gomez said he and Arum had also spoken about the fight and are aiming to make it for the late August/September timeframe.
The 26-year-old Navarrete (34-1, 29 KOs), of Mexico, who made five junior featherweight title defenses in nine months before moving up in weight, said after defeating Diaz that he needed to have a rest because the fight had taken a lot of out of him, so perhaps the bout with Gonzalez would move deeper into the fall.
Regardless, if the fight is finalized – and both sides expressed confidence that it would be – Gonzalez (24-1, 14 KOs), 27, of Los Angeles, will get his second shot at a world title. In October 2019, Gonzalez met bitter rival Shakur Stevenson for the then-vacant WBO featherweight title in Reno, Nevada, and lost a near-shutout decision – 119-109 on all three scorecards.
Gonzalez bounced back to score a one-sided 10-round decision over three-time world title challenger Miguel Marriaga on Sept. 12 inside the bubble of the conference center at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on a Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card.
Gomez said a fight with Navarrete, a brawler, would be a much better style of opponent for Gonzalez than the fight with the defensive-minded and ultra quick Stevenson was. Gomez said he expects the fight to produce action.
“Much better style for Joet,” Gomez said. “He won’t need track shoes this time. I discussed with Arum putting the fight in a phone booth. Both of their backs will never touch the glass walls.”
Before Navarrete faced Diaz, Arum said he had been contacted by an Australian promoter about a deal for the winner to go to Australia later in the summer, assuming the 14-day quarantine for foreigners was lifted, for a lucrative defense against 23-year-old WBO-rated challenger Brock Jarvis (18-0, 16 KOs).
But with the WBO seeking Navarrete-Gonzalez first, Arum said the plan would be have Navarrete fight Gonzalez first and then revisit the Jarvis fight next if Navarrete wins.
“I’m not going to take a chance doing an event in Australia until the winter because there’s this 14-day quarantine that knocks out any possible fight (for now),” Arum said.
“We’re going to do that fight but we’re going to do it when we know that the pandemic is over and first do Navarrete-Gonzalez.”
Dan Rafael was ESPN.com's senior boxing writer for fifteen years, and covered the sport for five years at USA Today. He was the 2013 BWAA Nat Fleischer Award winner for excellence in boxing journalism.