GLENDALE, Arizona — The previous visit to this venue saw Emanuel Navarrete overcome the first knockdown of his career.
This time around, he merely had to push past discomfort in his hand in the toughest fight of his career.
The three-division and reigning WBO junior lightweight titlist doesn’t expect to miss a beat after he suffered an inflamed knuckle of his right hand in a twelve-round points win over countryman Oscar Valdez. A minor scare in the second half of the fight briefly saw Navarrete go left hand-heavy while fighting through the discomfort to prevail in the all-Mexico civil war Saturday evening at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
“I caught him on top of the head and it caused a bit of inflammation,” Navarrete explained to BoxingScene.com and other reporters after his terrific win atop Saturday’s ESPN telecast. “The doctor looked at it after the fight and it’s fine. I should be fine in a couple of days.”
The far greater damage was actually caused by Navarrete (38-1, 31KOs), who landed enough jabs and left hooks to force Valdez’s right eye to completely swell shut from what is believed to be a broken orbital bone. The 28-year-old from San Juan Zitlaltepec built up a sizeable lead by the time he injured his hand in the second half of the fight. He quickly adjusted and proceeded to soundly outpoint Valdez (31-2, 23KOs), a two-time Mexican Olympian and former two-division champion who will likely have to take an extended break given the extent of his injury.
Not as much will apply to Navarrete’s immediate future. Other than the normal rest and relaxation that comes in the aftermath of any big fight, the streaking titleholder expects to resume his normal fight schedule when the time comes to discuss his next title defense.
“It’s definitely not broken,” Navarrete confirmed. “It briefly swelled up but I was able to fight through it.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox