A flabby & vulnerable-looking Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete (37-1, 31 KOs) had to rally in the second half to stop the huge underdog Liam Wilson (11-2, 7 KOs) by a 9th round TKO to win the vacant WBO super featherweight belt on Friday night at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
In the ninth, Navarrete knocked an exhausted and hurt Wilson down with a long right to the head at the start of the round.
Wilson was too hurt to defend himself after the action resumed, allowing Navarrete to unload on him at will with a series of unanswered punches after trapping him against the ropes.
The referee finally stepped in and waved off the contest at 1:57 of the round.
Earlier in the fight, Navarrete struggled badly, getting knocked down in the fourth and hurt in the sixth round by powerful left hooks from Wilson.
That was the only real weapon Wilson had in his arsenal, but when he would land it cleanly, he was hurting the 28-year-old Navarrete.
Emanuel Navarrete saved by spitting out mouthpiece
Navarrete spat his mouthpiece out after being knocked down by Wilson in the fourth round. With the long delay in the time that was involved in the mouthpiece finally reinserted into Navarrete’s mouth, he was able to recover enough to make it out of the round.
If not for the mouthpiece being spat out and slowly put back in, Navarrete likely would have lost the fight. As hurt as Navarrete was, he wouldn’t have survived another attack by Wilson. Spitting mouthpiece saved Navarrete.
With the victory, Navarrete is now a three-division world champion. His next flight will be against Oscar Valdez, which will be a lot tougher than tonight’s for Navarrete. He can’t count on Valdez gassing out after six rounds the way Wilson did, and he’s got a lot more weapons in his arsenal than just a left hook.
Navarrete looked really soft around the midsection, and he was visibly affected by the shots that Wilson was hitting him with to the head & body. It was fortunate for Navarrete that Wilson didn’t have a high work rate, and his punch accuracy was poor.
Wilson’s accuracy with his left hook, which was mainly the only thing he was throwing, wasn’t up to world level, which isn’t surprising because tonight was the first world class opponent he’s had in his career.
The Aussie has been fighting lesser opposition in his home country and hadn’t mixed it with contenders until tonight.