By Jake Donovan
To this day, Emanuel Navarrete struggles in choosing a favorite between his two wins over dethroned 122-pound titlist Isaac Dogboe.
In fact, every individual victory among his current 22-fight unbeaten streak holds a special place in his heart.
“Every time my hand was raised in victory makes my one loss more of a distant memory,” Navarrete (27-1, 23KOs) told BoxingScene.com ahead of his upcoming title defense versus unbeaten Francisco de Vaca (Saturday, ESPN, 10:00pm ET). “It’s a reminder of how much I continue to grow with each fight.
“My two wins over Dogboe, though—yeah, they represent all the hard work I’ve put in during training to become a world champion.”
The 24-year old from Mexico City steamrolled his way to the top of the division, enjoying as a United States debut in scoring an upset 12-round decision over then-unbeaten 122-pound titlist Dogboe last December in New York City.
Navarrete was even more dominant in their rematch this past May, pummeling Dogboe over 11-plus rounds before the fight was mercifully halted in the 12th and final round to lodge his first successful title defense.
“Both fights mean a lot to me,” Navarrete notes, when pressed to choose which child is his favorite. “Isaac Dogboe was considered the best super bantamweight in the world when I beat him the first time. My dream of becoming a world champion came true and is a moment I will never forget.
“Then the rematch came, and I was able to show the first fight wasn’t a fluke. After the fight, fans began to recognize me as the best or one of the best in the division. So, they both mean a lot to me but there’s no greater feeling than winning that first world title.”
Navarette is a 35-1 favorite to prevail this weekend versus an undefeated but untested challenger in de Vaca (20-0, 6KOs). A win would make it 23 straight dating back to Dec. 2012, just five months after suffering his lone career defeat.
“I was still a baby then,” points out Navarrete, who turned pro at age 15 and whose loss came six fights and five months into his young career. “I’ve been developing my skills ever since I suffered my only defeat, and of course grew into a man—and continue to grow.
“We give it our all in training, no matter who the opponent. So this guy on Saturday, I see his perfect record and I treat him the same as when I prepared for my first world title fight. I remember when I went after that championship, and always have to remember that everyone is now coming for my crown.”
With any luck, a new favorite boxing memory will be created on Saturday—or merely continue to make his choice that much more difficult.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox