Emanuel Navarrete and Christopher ‘Pitufo’ Diaz are set for the next entry of boxing’s rich in-ring rivalry between Mexico and Puerto Rico on the title stage.
Both boxers made weight ahead of their WBO featherweight title fight, which will air live on ESPN in front of a sellout crowd at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Florida.
Navarrete (33-1, 28KOs) weighed 126 pounds ahead of the first defense of the WBO featherweight belt, stripping down after initially weighing in just over the divisional limit. Diaz (26-2, 16KOs) weighed 125.8 pounds for his second career title fight.
The bout marks Navarrete’s third at featherweight following an active WBO junior featherweight title reign, cramming five defenses into a nine-month period before abandoning his reign last summer. The 26-year-old from San Juan Zitlaltepec, Mexico enjoyed a soft touch for his first fight at a new weight, scoring a 6th round stoppage of countryman Uriel Lopez last June in Mexico City. The win paved the way for a shot at becoming a two-division titlist, fending off a determined and unbeaten Ruben Villa en route to a 12-round unanimous decision last October at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
The title win took place without fans in attendance, as was the case for Diaz’s most recent bout. The 26-year-old from Barranquitas, Puerto Rico—who now lives and trains in the greater Orlando area—soundly outpointed former title challenger Jason Sanchez last June, also in the MGM bubble. The win was his second straight, while flirting with the idea of campaigning at junior featherweight.
Diaz instead remained put upon the promise of a second title bid. It comes in the same town as his first failed attempt, a 12-round decision defeat to Japan’s Masayuki Ito in their July 2018 WBO junior lightweight title fight at the nearby Kissimmee Civic Center.
Opening the ESPN doubleheader, Brooklyn’s Edgar Berlanga (16-0, 16KOs) looks to extend his perfect run of 16 1st round knockouts in as many pro fights, as he faces Demond Nicholson (23-3-1, 20KOs). The bout is scheduled for eight rounds, to be fought just above the super middleweight limit.
Berlanga weighed 168.4 pounds for his first fight since a 1st round knockout of last December in Las Vegas. Nicholson—who hails from Laurel, Maryland—weighed 168.2 pounds, as he ends a 14-month layoff following a split decision win over Mike Guy last February in Hanover, Maryland.
Below are the weights for the rest of the undercard, which airs live on ESPN+ beginning 6:00 p.m. ET.
Josue Vargas (18-1, 9KOs), The Bronx, 141.4 pounds vs. Willie Shaw (13-2, 9KOs), Vallejo, California, 139.8 pounds—10 rounds, junior welterweight
Joseph Adorno (14-0-1, 12KOs), Allentown, Pennsylvania, 135.2 pounds vs. Jamaine Ortiz (14-0, 8KOs), Worcester, Massachusetts, 136.6 pounds*—8 rounds, lightweight
*Ortiz is 0.6 pounds over the contracted 136-pound limit after initially weighing 137 pounds; has one hour to make weight
Orlando Gonzalez (16-0, 10KOs), Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, 127.6 pounds vs. Juan Antonio Lopez (15-8, 6KOs), Dallas, 128.4 pounds*—8 rounds, featherweight
*Lopez is 0.4 pound over the 128-pound weight limit, renegotiated from the originally contracted 127-pound limit. Fight will proceed as both sides have agreed to undisclosed terms
Xander Zayas (7-0, 5KOs), Sunrise, Florida via San Juan, 146.4 pounds vs. Demarcus Layton (8-1-1, 5KOs), Little Rock, 146.2 pounds—6 rounds, welterweight
Jeremy Adorno (4-0, 1KO), Allentown, Pennsylvania, 122 pounds vs. Ramiro Martinez (2-0-2, 1KO), Hurst, Texas, 122.2 pounds—4 rounds, junior featherweight
Mobley Villegas (3-1, 2KOs), Amarillo, Texas, 129.4 pounds vs. Jaycob Gomez (1-0, 1KO), Caguas, Puerto Rico, 129 pounds—4 rounds, junior lightweight
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox