The WBO has released its latest rankings, and the sanctioning body is planning to formally announce a fight between Emanuel Navarrete and Jessie Magdaleno for its vacant super featherweight title later this week, WBO president Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel told BoxingScene.com.
Valcarcel said that the No. 1 ranked Navarrete (31-1, 27 KOs) and the No. 2 ranked Magdaleno (28-1, 18 KOs) have the right to fight one another for the 126-pound crown.
“If Navarrete or Magdaleno is not available for whatever reason, we will then jump to No. 3 in Ruben Villa,” said Valcarcel. “We will touch base with Top Rank since both Navarrete and Magdaleno are promoted by them. We’ll then order the fight.”
Valcarcel said his main concern is if Navarrete, who lives in Mexico, will be able to enter the United States for a fight against the Las Vegas native Magdaleno during the pandemic.
“I know Ruben Villa is available. I already talked to Banner Promotions head Artie Pelullo. We will for sure announce it by the end of the week. Top Rank is busy right now with the shows in the Bubble in Las Vegas. I don’t want to disturb them right now.”
Magdaleno manager Frank Espinoza told BoxingScene.com that they are definitely interested in moving forward with the fight.
“That’s a fight we want. It will be a great battle. It will be interesting to see if the fight happens in the Bubble or not, but I would like the fight to take place no later than September and October,” said Espinoza. “It’s not going to be an easy fight, but we’re really motivated. My guy can prevail.”
Villa (18-0, 5 KOs) was previously ranked No. 2 in the division by the WBO, but was dropped down a slot for no real reason in the new rankings. Magdaleno is a former WBO titlist and the only fighter among the previous WBO top 10 candidates who's fought since the last ratings update. The series of events paved a path for a potential all Top Rank showdown between Magdaleno and Navarrette.
In yet another interesting development, previous No. 1 contender Michael Conlan, another Top Rank fighter, was removed from the WBO's 126 rankings altogether. He now sits as the No. 3 contender at 122.
The move suggests that Conlan plans on dropping down in weight and campaigning at the featherweight limit after going through a full-body analysis to determine if he can safely make 122-pounds. It also perhaps suggests that a match between Conlan and Navarrette was never of serious interest to the Irishman.
Navarrete and Magdaleno are a pair of former 122-pound world champions.
They would be fighting for the belt vacated by Shakur Stevenson earlier this month. Stevenson won the vacant title last year against Joet Gonzalez but opted to move up to 130 instead after defeating Felix Caraballo.
Navarrete was not long for 122, and also vacated his WBO title earlier this month after making five successful defenses since winning the belt from Isaac Dogboe in 2018. The belt originally belonged to Magdaleno, who won it in 2016 by defeating Nonito Donaire. He lost it, however, to Dogboe in 2018 in what still stands as his lone career loss.
Both Navarrete and Magdaleno have returned in crowdless clashes during the pandemic.
Navarrete dominated and stopped an outmatched Uriel Lopez in June, while Magdaleno landed a win via disqualification in a foul-filled fight versus Yenifel Vicente.
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the LA Times, Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com.