Emanuel Navarrete (38-1, 31 KOs) retained his WBO super featherweight title with a hard-fought twelve round unanimous decision over a game but overwhelmed Oscar Valdez (31-2, 23 KOs) on Saturday night at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
Fighting with an injured right hand, the 28-year-old Navarrete focused on jabbing and throwing a lot of shots, trying to hit a moving target.
Valdez’s defense was impresssive
Navarrete looked at times like he was fighting a ghost because he had a devil of time trying to hit Valdez. In the end, what saved Navarrete was high volume, throwing 1038 punches, over twice the number Valdez threw.
In the first two rounds, it looked like it would be an early night for Navarrete as he backed Valdez up to the ropes and unloaded with a flurry of shots, with some of the punches connecting clean.
After the second round, Navarrete found it increasingly difficult to land anything other than his. What was interesting was how good Navarrete was on defense, considering that Valdez had just as difficult a time trying to connect with his shots on him.
Of course, a big reason for that is Navarrete’s three-inch height and six-inch reach advantage, making it difficult for Valdez to get close enough to land.
Like a smaller version of heavyweight Tyson Fury, Navarrete would throw constant slow jabs to keep Valdez from getting close. A lot of the time, Navarrete was holding his left arm far out in front of him to use as a barrier.
Navarrete would lean his long torso back, making it all but impossible for Valdez to land headshots. Valdez couldn’t land his bread & butter punch, his left hook, because Navarrete was leaning away from it.
Navarrete had a massive size advantage
There appeared to be a massive weight difference between the two fighters. ESPN didn’t comment on how much bigger Navarrete was than Valdeez, and it looked like at least a 15 lb difference in weight.
Navarrete looked like a welterweight tonight, the same size as Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis, and this enabled him to take Valdez’s shots without getting hurt.
It’s normal for fighters to put on 15 to 20 lbs after rehydrating, and that’s clearly the case with Navarrete. He’s literally big enough to fight at welterweight. It’s understandable why Navarrete chooses not to because wouldn’t be able to dominate with his size any longer, and he’d be dealing with killers like Boots, who would be trying to take his head off with every punch.
When a fighter throws that many punches, they’re going to have success, even if their connect percentage is in the low 20s. That was the case with the 28-year-old Navarrete tonight.
The scores were 119-109, 118-110, and 116-112.
Valdez’s right eye began to swell up early on and steadily got worse as the contest wore on until, by the twelfth, it was closed entirely.
His trainer Eddy Reynoso told him to use movement to avoid getting hit in the eye by Navarrete, but that approach meant that Valdez wouldn’t do enough on offense to have a shot at winning.
It didn’t matter, though, because Valdez wouldn’t have won if he’d stood and traded power shots with Navarrete because he couldn’t match his output. Navarrete was like a tsunami with the way he was throwing nonstop punches.
Does a rematch make sense?
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum will likely push for a rematch between Valdez & Navarrete because it was an exciting fight. I don’t think that’s a good idea for Valdez because he’s not going to beat Navarrete in the rematch, and it would be like fighting Shakur Stevenson again after losing to him. Sure, the money would be good for Valdez, but it’s not worth it if he’s going to lose again.
It’s clear from watching tonight’s fight Valdez can’t beat the welterweight-sized Navarrete because this literally could & probably should be campaigning at 147 instead of 135 against the much smaller fighters.
If Arum wants to make an interesting fight, match Navarrete against Shakur Stevenson, Robeisy Ramirez, or Vasily Lomachenko. That would be much more interesting for boxing fans to see than watching the much bigger Navarrete using his 147-lb frame to defeat the tiny Valdez again.
Robeisy would bet at a huge size disadvantage as well against Navarrete, but he’s more skilled than Valdez and deadly accurate with his left hand. You wouldn’t see Robeisy missing all night long like we saw with Valdez.