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Navarrete Perseveres with Stoppage Win After Suffering Knockdown Scare

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SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 15: Emanuel Navarrete celebrates after defeating Joet Gonzalez for the WBO featherweight championship at Pechanga Arenaon October 15, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Mexican WBO world champion, Emmanuel Navarrete, has notched another great achievement to his list after beating Australian contender, Liam Wilson by stopping him in the ninth round. The two fought at the Desert Diamond Arena in Arizona, on February 3, for the vacant WBO Super Featherweight title, in a twelve-round contest.

Having moved up a division from Featherweight to Super Featherweight to challenge Liam Wilson (11-2, 7 KO’s) for the vacant WBO title, Emmanuel Navarrete (37-1, 31 KO’s) has proven himself as an elite competitor that might just belong on the pound-for-pound list. His victory over Wilson is just the latest in an unprecedented winning streak that has carried on for over a decade since suffering his only (unanimous decision) loss in 2012.

Their title match for the WBO belt turned into a technical brawl early on as the two pounced on one another, trying whatever they could to damage the other – whether from the outside or in the pocket. In the fourth round, Navarette’s legs seemed to buckle after an exchange of punches between him and Wilson. Wilson immediately grabbed the opportunity to unleash a set of combinations that eventually dropped Navarrete in the last minute of the round.

Following the shock he suffered in the fourth round, Navarrete rallied and continued to come forward, determined to let the knockdown be but a blip in the fight. Round 7 saw Navarrete nearly score a knockdown as he battered Liam Wilson on the ropes, but Wilson (barely) held on to close out the round on his feet.

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GLENDALE, ARIZONA – FEBRUARY 03: Liam Wilson (L) and Emanuel Navarrete (R) exchange punches during their vacant WBO junior lightweight championship fight at Desert Diamond Arena on February 03, 2033 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

The ninth round seemed pre-determined rather early on when in the first thirty seconds, Navarette landed a slick right off of a one-two combination that knocked Wilson down, but proved not to be a debilitating fight-ending shot. After recovering from his knockdown, Liam Wilson held down the fort for the next two minutes or so as he tied up with Navarrete who relentlessly pursued him. With around a minute left on the clock, Navarrete’s determination finally came through and the referee stopped the fight after Wilson was pushed on the ropes while not responding to the Mexican’s blows other than covering up. The fact blood was pouring from his nostrils also likely had to do with the referee’s quick intervention and decision to stop the fight.

With both fighters having suffered two knockdowns and being engaged in a relative slug fest, their bout was a highly-entertaining spectacle that highlighted the skill and danger that most in the lower weight classes possess.

Liam Wilson was widely considered a major underdog, mostly because of his rather small record of 11-1 before the fight compared to Emmanuel Navarrete’s previous 36-1 record, but proved to belong in the upper echelon of the division by evenly matching a pound-for-pound candidate in Navarrete. At just 26-years of age and his career barely even having started, Wilson can take the lessons of his fight with Navarrete and strive to challenge the top guys again in the near future.

Navarrete, in the meantime, will be looking to settle at the 130 lbs division, before potentially moving up to face the heavyweights at Lightweight. He is now expected to face Oscar Valdez (30-1, 23 KO’s), a former two-weight world champion who last fought against current Lightweight contender Shakur Stevenson (19-0, 9 KO’s) in a losing effort to unify on the 30th of April in 2022.

Valdez briefly made an appearance in the ring with Emmanuel Navarrete to set the stage for a fight between them. With the WBC world title soon to be filled after the Super Featherweight title fight between Rey Vargas (36-0, 22 KO’s) and O’Shaquie Foster (19-2, 11 KO’s) – for the vacant title – is wrapped up, there may be a full complement of four different champions in the division by the end of this month, leading to a potentially new era in the division after Shakur Stevenson nearly dominated the weight class singlehandedly.

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Former WBC Super Featherweight world champion, Oscar Valdez, may soon get in the ring with his fellow countryman in Emmanuel Navarrete. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

The rest of the fight card saw unbeaten Super Lightweight contender, Arnold Barboza Jr. (28-0, 10 KO’s), soundly hand the former WBO Lightweight champion, Jose Pedraza (29-5-1, 15 KO’s), his fifth career loss in the co-main event. Barboza is now within reach of a world title shot with a likely opportunity coming by way of the WBC, or WBO judging on his current ranking position.

Elsewhere, Nico Ali Walsh (8-0, 5 KO’s), recently featured in one of our articles, scored a confident UD victory over his opponent, American Eduardo Ayala (9-3-1, 3 KO’s), and take another step closer towards meeting, or even exceeding, the expectations set by his last name.