NEW YORK – Abraham Nova didn’t waste a split second in calling out Emanuel Navarrete five months ago.
The undefeated featherweight contender had just stopped William Encarnacion in the eighth round of a co-feature ESPN televised from Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York. He then made the most of his post-fight camera time and publicly challenged the WBO 126-pound champion on live TV.
Nova wasn’t ranked by the WBO when stopped Encarnacion on January 15, but he occupied the number two spot in that sanctioning organization’s ratings in February. The 28-year-old Albany native briefly believed Navarrete would fight him, until the Mexican champion contended during a joint interview on YouTube that there was no reason for him to defend his title versus Nova.
Resigned to having to wait at least a little longer for his title shot, Nova (21-0, 15 KOs) accepted another difficult fight. He’ll box two-time Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez (9-1, 5 KOs) in another co-feature ESPN will broadcast before light heavyweight champions Artur Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KOs) and Joe Smith Jr. (28-3, 22 KOs) fight in the network’s main event Saturday night at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater (10 p.m. ET).
“You guys saw my last fight,” Nova told BoxingScene.com when asked after a press conference Thursday about boxing Navarrete. “I called him out. I tried to make the fight happen. He denied the fight, so he doesn’t wanna fight me.”
Navarrete (35-1, 29 KOs) has agreed to make a voluntary defense of his WBO belt against Eduardo Baez (21-2-2, 7 KOs) on August 20 at Pechanga Arena in San Diego. Mexico’s Baez is ranked ninth by the WBO among its featherweight contenders, five spots beneath Nova, who has moved down from second to fourth in the WBO’s ratings since February.
“I heard he’s doing that and then he’s gonna vacate,” Nova said of Navarrete. “That’s what they’re saying. They’re saying he’s gonna fight this fight and he’s gonna vacate. That’s what [promoter] Top Rank told me. I’ll probably fight for a vacant title against the winner of Joet Gonzalez and [Isaac] Dogboe. [Navarrete] knows what’s coming. He feels this heat. If he’s gonna fight somebody ranked, I was ranked number two in the world. He’s gonna fight somebody ranked [ninth]. He’s avoiding me, obviously. He’s fighting somebody ranked [ninth], who’s a nobody. He just wants to get a payday and move up.”
Nova was surprised when he realized Navarrete wouldn’t fight him. He would prefer challenging Navarrete or another 126-pound champion if he gets a title shot, but if the aforementioned scenario plays out, Nova will gladly face the winner of the July 23 bout between the number one-ranked Gonzalez (25-2, 15 KOs) and the second-ranked Dogboe (23-2, 15 KOs) at Grand Casino Hinckley in Hinckley, Minnesota.
“I was telling this to my brother and my team that I wanna beat the champion,” Nova said. “You beat the champion, you get more recognition. You’re the man. Yeah, I’ll fight for a vacant title if I have to. But if I had a choice, I would wanna fight the champion. That’s why I called [Navarrete] out. Because I could’ve easily waited and not taken this fight, waited until the belt was vacant and fought for a vacant title. Easily, I’m right there. But I have trust in my skills, I have trust in my team and I trust in what I do, and I know I’m gonna come out victorious Saturday night. And after I take Robeisy out I’ll be mandatory. So, I will get my shot.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.