Emanuel Navarrete continues to plead his case as the best 122-pound boxer on the world—and arguably the hardest working man in the sport.
The streaking junior featherweight titlist from Mexico celebrated his one year anniversary atop the junior featherweight division with his fourth successful defense. A 4th round stoppage of countryman Francisco Horta—which streamed live on ESPN+ Saturday evening in Puebla, Mexico—marked his fifth fight in exactly 52 weeks, a run which began with an upset 12-round decision over then-unbeaten titlist Isaac Dogboe last December live on ESPN in New York City.
“I feel very happy to have been able to defend my title in front of my people,” Navarrete said of his latest feat, with the ESPN+ event tracking well above expectations, according to network executives. “[Sunday] will be my one-year anniversary as a world champion, and I can’t be happier with everything I achieved this year. It was a very productive (year).”
All four title defenses for Navarrete have ended inside the distance, and with the entirety of his title reign being carried by an ESPN platform. The 24-year young boxer consummated his current reign with a brutally one-sided 12th round stoppage of Dogboe this past May live on ESPN’s flagship station, as did a crushing 3rd round knockout of previously unbeaten Francisco de Vaca this past August in Los Angeles, California.
The win over de Vaca was emphatic and brief enough for Navarrete to earn a spot in the chief support to unbeaten heavyweight Tyson Fury’s thrilling 12-round win over Otto Wallin on the weekend of Mexican Independence Day in Las Vegas, Nevada. The rising junior featherweight star didn’t disappoint, tearing through Philippines’ Juan Miguel Elorde in four rounds.
Saturday’s victory over Horta (20-4-1, 10KOs) caps a four-win 2019 campaign while also extending his current 25-fight win streak. It’s a run he’s willing to put at stake against the division’s best, including countryman and unbeaten title claimant Rey Vargas or streaking unified titlist Daniel Roman. The pot of gold at the end of rainbow is a superfight with Japan’s unbeaten pound-for-pound entrant and reigning unified bantamweight king Naoya Inoue, who is ready to bring his act stateside after signing a co-promotional pact with Top Rank (Navarrete’s co-promoter along with Zanfer Promotions).
Whatever comes of his 2020 campaign, the tireless efforts in the year that’s been has put him in position to developing into a major star in the year ahead.
“All the sacrifices I’ve made have been worth it,” insists Navarrete. “I have seen the improvement after each fight, and I want to continue improving so 2020 will be even better. That is why I will continue to work hard.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox