By Jake Donovan
Emanuel Navarrete is now the star attraction.
The reigning super bantamweight titlist will headline the August 17 edition of Top Rank Boxing on ESPN as he faces unbeaten but unproven Francisco de Vaca. The bout was due to run in supporting capacity to a welterweight crossroads contest between Jose Benavidez Jr. and Luis Collazo, only for those plans to hit the scrap heap after Benavidez withdrew due to injury.
The injury caused a reshuffling of the deck for Top Rank and ESPN, with the August 17 show—which airs live from Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif.—to now include a 10-round featherweight clash between Jessie Magdaleno and Rafael Rivera, which was originally due to appear on the Aug. 10 ESPN+ show headlined by Carl Frampton in a featherweight bout versus Emmanuel Dominguez.
News of the telecast shuffling was first reported by Los Angeles Times’ Manouk Akopyan.
As for Collazo (39-7, 20KOs), rather than search for a late replacement the plan is now to preserve the bout with Benavidez Jr. Top Rank officials are eyeing an October date on which the fight will land.
Navarrete (27-1, 23KOs) will make the second defense of the 122-pound title he claimed in a 12-round win over previously unbeaten Isaac Dogboe last December. The two fought in a rematch this past May, with Navarrete battering Ghana’s Dogboe until the fight was mercifully stopped in the 12th round.
Both bouts aired live on ESPN as chief supporting contests, which was to be the case for this contest. With the upgrade, the upcoming show will mark the first network headliner for Mexico City’s Navarrete, who has won 22 straight since a four-round loss in the infant stage of his seven-year career.
In de Vaca (20-0, 6KOs), he gets a baby-faced contender who steps way up in competition. The 24-year old from Phoenix has yet to fight outside his home region and has been in just one career 10-round bout, a win over Mexico’s Victor Proa nearly two years ago.
With the reshuffling of the deck, the Aug. 10 show at Liacouras Center in Philadelphia (Pa.) is left for the moment without a notable chief support. Currently in that slot is former 130-pound titlist Jason Sosa, a local attraction from Camden, N.J. whom faces Las Vegas-based Oklahoma native Haskell Lydell Rhodes in a 10-round super featherweight contest.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox