A week ago, bitter heavyweight rivals Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder gave us a special fight; a fight so packed with drama, slugging, knockdowns and brutality, it was instantly looked at as an obvious choice for 2021’s Fight of the Year. Fury-Wilder III may still pick up the award when the time comes, yet today, in a genuine fire fight, little giants Emanuel Navarrete and Joet Gonzalez gave us a fight that was every bit as thrilling as the heavyweight battle.
Indeed, Navarrete’s 12 round decision win over a ferociously determined Gonzalez had it all barring knockdowns and a knockout. Reigning and defending WBO featherweight champ Navarrete retained his belt by a wide score of 118-110, along with two more accurate tallies of 116-112, yet these numbers do not begin to tell the story of the pulsating fight that took place in San Diego. Navarrete, who was making the second defence of the WBO 126 pound belt, is now 35-1(29). Gonzalez falls to 24-2(14). Neither warrior has ever been stopped.
Now to the stunning action.
These two men came right out and went to work, to war. The pace was red-hot from the opening bell and it never slowed. The two men traded leather in a fashion that stunned many of the fans watching the fight. Mexico’s Navarrete may have been shocked himself at the way his challenger, from Glendora, California, was able to stand and trade with him right away. It was stirring stuff but soon the champ had an edge by way of a cut to Gonzalez’ right eye that opened up, this from a left hook. Gonzalez bled but he was never in danger of being stopped.
Later on, however, Gonzalez’ vision was affected some as the eye swelled up. The fight raged on, with both men having big chunks of success. It was, though, the defending champ who had the better of things. Just. Navarrete, a former champ down at super-bantamweight, was still full of energy and zest in the later rounds. But so was Gonzalez. After the fight, one that was so good a return rumble is an obvious idea, both men felt they had won.
“Without a doubt, I hurt him, but every single time he came back, and he also hurt me,” a triumphant Navarrete said. “A couple shots he landed during the fight hurt me.”
“I thought I had it seven rounds to five, eight rounds to four. I was really surprised by that score of 118-110,” Gonzalez said. “But it is what is is. I did my best.”
Both men did their best in giving us a great, great fight. A fight so great, it instantly made us think of special ones like Barrera-Morales and Marquez-Vazquez. Those greats ended up fighting a series of epic battles – maybe Navarrete and Gonzalez will end up doing the same?