Andre Ward says Liam Wilson (11-2, 7 KOs) let Emanuel Navarrete (37-1, 31 KOs) off the hook on Friday night, and it cost him the fight in a ninth round technical knockout defeat for the Aussie in a battle for the vacant WBO super featherweight title at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
Ward feels that it was a lack of experience on Wilson’s part that resulted in him not finishing off Navarrete. He couldn’t execute what his corner was telling him in between rounds.
Wilson’s lack of a well-rounded offense also limited his ability to score the knockout. His only weapon was his left hook, and he wasn’t using it nearly enough; when he did, he frequently missed.
Wilson couldn’t finish the job in the fourth because Navarrete stalled for time by spitting out his mouthpiece while the referee gave him a count.
That move should have resulted in Navarrete being penalized, but ultimately, that wouldn’t have changed the outcome. The delay is what made the difference.
“The world will know that I can fight, and I love to fight. I’ll be back,” said Liam Wilson after the contest to ESPN.
“Fights like this tonight are why other athletes judge themselves in relation to boxers,” said Mark Kriegel of ESPN. “Navarrete did the best thing that he could do. He got himself up off the canvas and won by knockout. You never see guys with their souls on display that way.
“He’s going back to Australia with more notoriety and respect than he did,” said Andre Ward about Liam Wilson. “There’s no shame when you fight the way he did. The moment was not too big for him,” said Ward.
Ryan Garcia is similar to Wilson, with his left hook being his primary tool for winning his fights, but what makes him different is that he throws nonstop without rest, and he’s deadly accurate with it. Wilson didn’t throw it enough, and he couldn’t land it much of the time, even with Navarrete standing a foot away.
Wilson had a victory within his clutches after he flattened the former two-division world champion Navarrete with a massive left hook to the head in the fourth round. Then instead of going for the finish, Wilson failed to capitalize on the situation by attacking the still-hurt Navarrete in the fifth.
“The difference in this fight was pedigree and experience,” continued Ward about Wilson. “Not because Liam didn’t have a good training camp or game plan or that he didn’t bite down and fight. He did something to Navarrete that we don’t see happen. He bullied Navarrete around at certain points.
“He hurt Navarrete and had him out. He was moments away if he could have landed another big shot from possibly stopping the three-division champion. He did his part, but he came up short,” said Ward.
“‘Almost’ don’t count in my book. ‘Almost does not count,” said Tim Bradley. “He had Navarrete hurt. He should have finished him, period. You don’t let a guy with that amount of experience and that type of mindset and will get himself back into the fight.
“You eluded to it during the fight when you said, ‘He’s letting him off the hook. He’s letting Navarrete recover.’ That was a big mistake for Liam. If he would have stepped on the gas and as you always say, ‘Checked his temperature a little more,’ the fight probably would have been over,” said Bradley.
“I think that was the inexperience factor,” said Ward about Wilson.
“But the corner could have told him to ‘step on the gas. Come out there and step on the gas,” said Bradley. “There’s no doubt about it. He had an experienced corner in there.”
“I think they did. There’s a gap between information and execution,” said Ward. “He wasn’t able to execute when he needed it the most, which is when you have a guy like that hurt. That doesn’t happen every round. You earn that.
“Don’t let him off the hook because you saw Navarrete start to claw back in, and then before you knew it, he’s back in the fight,” said Ward.