It was an early Fight of the Year contender, and it was also a fight filled with controversy.
Friday night saw super-featherweights warriors Emanuel Navarette and Liam Wilson live up to their billing with one huge capital “W.” For almost nine rounds, the two slugged it out in thrilling, even breathtaking fashion. In the end, after the two men had traded knockdowns as well as leather, Mexico’s Navarrrete scored a 9th round TKO, the Australian challenger Wilson taking too much and being saved by the referee.
Emanuel Navarette got :27 seconds to recover last night vs. Liam Wilson 😳 pic.twitter.com/FjNiyngjmz
— Dan Canobbio (@DanCanobbio) February 4, 2023
Navarrete, 37-1(31) won the vacant WBO belt, and he set up a fight with Oscar Valdez. But, as is so often the case in boxing, there is more to it that that. A lot more. As fans may be aware, there was a “long count” in the fourth round, this after Wilson, 11-2(7) dropped Navarrete heavily. Wilson and his team are claiming Navarrete was aided by a count that was as long as “27 seconds.”
Navarrete did spit out his mouth-piece just after being decked (shades of Diego Corrales in the epic war with Jose Luis Castillo) and there is no doubt extra seconds were bought by the buzzed fighter. And now, as per a report from Fox Sports in Australia, an official protest has been launched by Williams’ team.
“We’ve filed a protest,” Wilson’s promoter Matt Rose said, demanding that the result of Friday’s fight be changed to that of a No Contest. “He was robbed, Australia should have a new world champion. I hope the Commission look at it the way everyone else saw it and they overturn the result to a No Contest so Liam gets another crack straight away. Liam should be a world champion. The count was long in that fourth round, everyone knows it was long. Even Top Rank promoters said the count was long.”
In addition to the count issue, Rose says there was some “tampering” with the scale at the official weigh-in, where Navarrete was actually substantially heavier than his announced weight of 129.2 pounds. It is, though, the “long count” that has so hugely angered Wilson and his entire team.
“It’s happened to plenty of fighters before and it will continue to happen until authorities stamp out this officiating,” Rose said. “It’s sad. We should be celebrating right now.”
In all fairness, Wilson should certainly be given a rematch with Navarrete, but will that in-the-works big fight between Navarrete and Valdez being pushed aside to make room for an immediate rematch? Maybe, but it seems doubtful. Wilson, though, should get something. He deserves it. Wilson fought incredibly well considering he was having just his 13th pro fight on Friday night.