Navarrete wins back-and-forth slugfest vs. Wilson

Emanuel Navarrete outplayed Liam Wilson in a Friday night bout in Glendale, Arizona to capture the vacant WBO junior lightweight title via ninth-round TKO.

Mexico’s Navarrete was knocked down by an 8-1 underdog in round 4 – the first knockdown of his career – but rallied and scored a knockdown in round 9 with a looped right hand. There were more than two minutes left in the round, and Navarrete wasted no time.

While Wilson staggered around the ring, bleeding from his nose, Navarrete (37-1, 31 KOs) pinned him to the ropes and threw punches. The referee finally stopped the Sportzshala main event at 1:57 of round 9 with Wilson on his feet.

“It was an amazing win because it was a test for me,” Navarrete, now a three-division champion, said in a commentary translated from Spanish. “I needed to know that I was capable of getting on the canvas, getting up and coming out with a win, and now I know.”

Navarrete, who was ahead on all three scorecards (77–74, 76–75 and 77–74) before entering Round 9, campaigned at 130 pounds for the first time. He was originally scheduled to fight Oscar Valdez, but his compatriot pulled out of the fight due to a rib injury.

After that, Valdez, the former bi-divisional champion, stepped into the ring to set the stage for a highly anticipated showdown with Navarrete later this year. Sources told Sportzshala that Valdez’s return is slated for May due to injury.

Meanwhile, Navarreta managed to avoid a key 4th round to keep Valdez’s paycheck. Wilson (11-2, 7 KOs) had little chance of success, but he did when he landed a hard left hook late in the round. A series of subsequent shots hit Navarrete hard on the canvas.

But in a cunning maneuver, Navarrete spat out his mouthpiece to buy valuable recovery time. The referee adjusted it because 27 seconds elapsed between the moment the canvas was touched and the action resumed.

“I’m disappointed, but I knocked him down in the fourth round and I believe the count was a little longer,” said Wilson, who trained in Washington, D.C. with respected trainer Barry Hunter. “I thought I won the fight in that sense because I think it was about 20 seconds. I’ll come back. Make no mistake.”

Wilson could regret how the fifth round ended. Navarrete was still reeling, but Wilson didn’t take advantage, possibly tired from the knockdown. By the end of the round, Navarrete clearly got his bearings. He suddenly broke Wilson with clumsy but effective punches that seemed to come from all directions.

Navarrete continued to land punches in the 6th round, but Wilson countered with another left hook that shook the favorite. Only this time Navarrete did not fall.

He began throwing powerful punches while Wilson was looking for one finishing blow that never materialized. As round 7 ended, the sustained offense seemed to finally take its toll on Wilson, who was visibly hurt.

Navarrete felt the end was near and continued to push forward through the last two rounds, throwing non-stop punches. He eventually broke through in the 9th round when Wilson went down with a right hand.

The Aussie never regained his balance, and as Navarrete landed punch after punch, the referee stopped the fight and put an end to the A-side fighter’s panic.

Navarrete, Sportzshala’s No. 1 boxer at 126 pounds, still holds the WBO featherweight title but must officially decide which weight division he will compete in.

Barbosa dominates Pedraza

In Sportzshala’s main support fight, Arnold Barbosa scored the best victory of his career by defeating Jose Pedraza in a 10-round junior welterweight bout by unanimous decision.

The scores were 97-93, 96-94 and 96-94.

Barbosa (28-0, 10 KOs) landed more accurate and powerful shots and dictated most of the action. The 31-year-old, who is ranked No. 7 on Sportzshala at 140 pounds, is looking for his first title shot later this year.

Pedraza, a former 130 and 135 pound champion, hasn’t won his last three fights. In August, the 33-year-old Puerto Rican drew with Richard Commey.


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