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PREVIEW: Emanuel Navarette vs Oscar Valdez

Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

WBO super featherweight titleholder Emanuel Navarette will make the first defense of his belt against former two-division champion Oscar Valdez on Saturday night. The bout will headline an ESPN/ESPN+ card from the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.

The fight was originally scheduled to take place in February, but Valdez suffered an injury in the lead-up, causing it to be called off.

In his last ring outing, Navarette (37-1, 37 KO) stopped Liam Wilson in the ninth round to win his third world title in his third weight class. “Vaquero”, 28, won his first belt at super bantamweight after outpointing Isaac Dogboe in 2018, and then later went on to capture another one at featherweight in 2020 after winning a decision over Ruben Villa.

Valdez (31-1, 23 KO), 32, will be looking to regain the same WBO title he lost to Shakur Stevenson in April 2022 (Stevenson later vacated the title to move up to lightweight, which is why Navarette has it currently). He’s picked up one win since then—a 10-round decision in a rematch against Adam “Blue Nose” Lopez in May.

Despite his ongoing accomplishments across multiple weight classes, many observers may still feel as if there’s some questions to be answered about Navarette. For one, how well will he be able to take big punches as he moves up in weight? Against Wilson, Navarette was dropped and hurt badly in the fourth round. Also, he has yet to face anyone as talented as Valdez, so how will he hold up?

As for Valdez, will he be able to return to form after a lopsided loss and a positive drug test for performance enhancing drugs? At the moment, bookies seem to think that Valdez will likely pull it off, as he’s the slight favorite.

Fighter’s Form (last 5 fights):

Emanuel Navarrete

Liam Wilson - WIN by TKO 9 - 03/02/2023

Eduardo Baez - WIN by KO 6 - 20/08/2022

Joet Gonzalez - WIN by UD (118-110, 116-112, 116-112) - 15/10/2021

Christopher Diaz - WIN by TKO 12 - 24/04/2021

Ruben Villa - WIN by UD (115-111, 114-112, 114-112) - 09/10/2020

Oscar Valdez

Adam Lopez - WIN by UD (98-91, 98-92, 97-93) - 20/05/2023

Shakur Stevenson - LOSS by UD (118-109, 118-109, 117-110) - 30/04/2022

Robson Conceicao - WIN by UD (117-110, 115-112, 115-112) - 10/09/2021

Miguel Berchelt - WIN by KO 10 - 20/02/2021

Jayson Velez - WIN by TKO 10 - 21/07/2020

Event Information:

Date: August 12th, 2023

Time: 1 am (GMT), 5pm (PT), 8pm (ET)

Venue: Desert Diamond Arena, Glendale, Arizona, USA

Channel: ESPN/ESPN+

Elsewhere on the card

The co-main event was supposed to feature rising lightweight prospect Raymond Muratalla (18-0, 15 KO) against Diego Torres (17-0, 16 KO), but Muratalla sustained an injury, prompting the fight to be pulled from the card. Also on the card will be 2020 Olympian and current heavyweight prospect Richard Torrez Jr. (5-0, 5 KO) against Willie Jake Jr. (11-3-2, 3 KO) in a six-rounder.

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