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The Boys of November: The Bowe-Holyfield Trilogy

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When most people think of November, they think of Thanksgiving. During the 1990s, the next-to-last month of the calendar year came to mean something else to fight fans, a reason in triplicate to give thanks for a heavyweight trilogy that ranks just below the Holy Trinity that was Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier.

Yes, Riddick Bowe vs. Evander Holyfield was that exhilarating, that special. Oh, there have been other notable ring trilogies since then – Arturo Gatti-Micky Ward comes to mind – but in terms of the elite quality of the participants, and the fierce, unrelenting competitiveness of all three bouts, Bowe-Holyfield was a smorgasbord of pugilistic delights that, as much as anything, is the cornerstone of each champion’s professional legacy.

Remember, then, what was and hope that the heavyweight division someday soon can offer up more of the same superb stuff involving big men possessed of the same level of talent, heart and willingness to lay it all on the line.

*November 13, 1992, the Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas: In a spirited scrap that earned Fight of the Year recognition from The Ring magazine, despite the relatively wide scores (117-110 twice, 115-112 for the winner), Bowe came away with the unanimous decision and Holyfield’s lineal, WBA, WBC and IBF titles.

*November 6, 1993, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas: Whether the unexpected, out-of-the-sky appearance of paraglider James Miller, who came to be known as “Fan Man,” affected the outcome – there was a 20-minute delay in the seventh round to extract and remove Miller, who became ensnarled in the ring ropes – will forever be a matter of conjecture. When the bout resumed, Holyfield took charge down the stretch to eke out a 12-round majority decisions (115-113, 115-114, 114-114) and reclaim the WBA and IBF belts.

*November 4, 1995, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas: No widely recognized world title was on the line, and there was creeping suspicion that neither the 33-year-old Holyfield nor the 29-year-old Bowe was at their peak, but remember, the same was said of Ali and Frazier prior to the third act of their ongoing passion play, the “Thrilla in Manila.” Squaring off for pride and the so-called “People’s Championship” in their rubber match, Bowe – who went into the eighth round trailing, 66-65, on all three official cards – promptly floored Holyfield twice, prompting referee Joe Cortez to step in and award him the technical knockout victory.

It can be argued that Holyfield and Bowe weren’t the two finest heavyweights of the division’s most recent “golden era,” sharing as they did top billing with Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson, but it is beyond dispute that, together, they made magic on three occasions. And maybe that is enough to gain additional consideration when it is time to put together any kind of best-of-the-best pecking order.

“Bowe brings out the best in me, and I think I bring out the best in him,” Holyfield said before their third fight. “We bring out the best in each other.”

With Act III approaching, someone asked Bowe if, were the bout to end in a draw, a fourth matchup might be in the offing.

“Last year I felt a little out of place when November rolled around because I had gotten so accustomed to fighting Evander Holyfield at that time,” Bowe said. “Me and Evander beating up on each other in November has become, you know, sort of habit-forming.

“And as far as a fourth fight between us … man, I don’t even want to think about (what would happen if there were) a draw. As hard as Evander Holyfield fights, if this one is a draw, he can fight the next one by himself.”

Although the more anxiously anticipated pairing no doubt involved Holyfield and Tyson, that megafight was delayed for five years, the result of, first, a thumb injury to Tyson that forced the cancellation of their scheduled bout in November 1991 and then Tyson’s rape conviction that landed him in prison for three-plus years. The post-incarceration Tyson was a pale imitation of his ferocious youth, and in his two meetings with Holyfield, he was knocked out in 11 rounds on Nov. 9, 1996 – another historic date in November — and then was disqualified for chewing off a piece of Evander’s right ear in the infamous “Bite Fight” of June 28, 1997.

With Tyson unavailable, it was almost inevitable that Holyfield and Bowe gravitate toward each other. Then again, a fight between them probably was bound to happen in any case. They had a shared history long before they squared off for anything of consequence, having been frequent sparring partners in the mid-1980s, when Evander was a young pro who hadn’t yet won his first world title and Bowe was a teenage amateur phenomenon.

“I realized at the time that we might wind up fighting someday,” Holyfield said in August 1992, after the contracts for their first bout were signed. “He wasn’t that much younger than me, and he was very gifted. I knew he wasn’t going to sit around and wait for me to get out of boxing before he made his move.

“I don’t think our situation is that unusual. Ali and Larry Holmes sparred when Ali was on top and Larry was coming up. I think maybe they knew they were going to fight for real one day. The guy who’s your sparring partner today might be your opponent tomorrow.”

Truth be told, Holyfield might have made the mistake of still thinking of Bowe – who had something of a reputation, and deservedly so, of a talented slacker who ate too much and trained too little – as that sparring partner of a decade earlier. His failure to push himself to peak efficiency, as he so frequently had and would do so in the future, might have cost him his titles.

“You couldn’t get him to do anything,” Holyfield’s trainer, George Benton, said of “The Real Deal’s” uninspired preparation for the first Bowe bout. “Some days he refused to work at all. Every day he had a different ache or pain.”

For his part, Bowe, who had a penchant for dramatic weight increases between fights, had given Team Holyfield at least a little reason to be confident. He had come in at a then-career-high 245 pounds for his most recent ring appearance, a seventh-round stoppage of Pierre Coetzer. Taking a poke at the soft midsection Bowe displayed that night, Lou Duva, Holyfield’s co-manager, presented the challenger with a pair of fancy, size-42 trunks at an August media gathering in New York. Bowe’s trunks had split down the back against Coetzer, revealing more of himself to an HBO audience then he would have preferred.

“Either your trunks are too small or you butt is too big,” Duva chided Bowe. “With these on, at least you’ll look good when they carry you out of the ring.”

But Bowe came in fit and ready, and when it became apparent that he would be no soft touch for the favored champion, the toughest, most resilient part of Holyfield’s inner self was activated. Bowe jolted Holyfield with a right uppercut early in the 10th round and seemingly was poised to score a knockout, but the exhausted Holyfield, after going down along the ropes, rose and fought back with a fury.

Color analyst Al Bernstein shouted to the pay-per-view audience, “That was one of the greatest rounds in heavyweight history! Ever! Period!” Boxing historian Bert Sugar later would compare that round to Round 15 of the Larry Holmes-Ken Norton war, Round 14 of Ali-Frazier III and Round 1 of Jack Dempsey-Luis Firpo, which featured seven knockdowns by Dempsey and two by Firpo.

Act II, of course, is especially notable not only for more of the kind of action that had marked Act I, but for Fan Man’s drop-in from the night sky and the tumult that set off. There probably always will be debate as to what would have happened had there not been a delay, which some believe benefited Holyfield and others feel was of assistance to Bowe, had had gone into training at around 300 pounds before paring down to an weigh-in weight of 246.

“I felt at that particular point that I had Evander right where I wanted him,” Bowe said. “I had the impression his back was giving him trouble. I felt that if the fight had continued, he would have quit.

“Then, when I saw what happened with my wife (Judy, who was pregnant, fainted and had to be carried out on a stretcher), I considered leaving the ring. I didn’t know what was going on. I was bewildered. But I knew enough to understand that if I left, they would have said I was quitting. So I waited until the fight resumed and tried to pick up where I left off. But by then I had gotten cold. I never did get warm again, and that’s what cost me my title. Holyfield didn’t beat me; Fan Man did.”

Holyfield, not unexpectedly, had a different take on what had transpired.

“Bowe and I fought two different six-round fights tonight,” he said shortly after his majority decision victory was announced. “In the first one, I was just getting ready to go toe-to-toe with him when that guy dropped in. I was in a rhythm, and I felt like I could outgun him. I started to get upset (during the delay), but then I realized it was the same for both of us. With that cleared from my mind, I just went out and got my rhythm back.”

The only certainty is that “Fan Man” – Miller, who would commit suicide, hanging himself from a tree in a remote part of Alaska in 2002 – is the one who came out the worst for wear. Intending to land in the middle of the ring, his chute became tangled in the overhead lights, causing him to land on the top strand of ropes, after which he tumbled awkwardly into a group of startled spectators. It spoke much as to the jinxed nature of Miller’s life that the ringside seats he toppled into were filled by Minister Louis Farrakhan and his Nation of Islam security detail, who were none too pleased to have an unidentified white guy unexpectedly arrive in their midst. The intruder was beaten unconscious by big, burly dudes brandishing walkie-talkies as makeshift clubs.

“It was a heavyweight fight,” a well-bruised Miller said afterward, “and I was the only guy who got knocked out.”

Fast-forward to Act III, which was to have shared the TV and local Las Vegas audience with another high-profile boxing event, Mike Tyson’s bout with Buster Mathis Jr., scheduled to take place on the same night just down the Strip at the MGM Grand. But that bout was postponed a few days earlier because of a fractured thumb on Tyson’s right hand. It eventually took place the following month, on Dec. 16 in Philadelphia, with Tyson winning on a third-round knockout. Not that Holyfield was overly concerned about what a rusted Iron Mike, whose only fight after leaving prison was a first-round disqualification win over the oafish Peter McNeeley on Aug. 19, 1995, was up to.

“At my best, I am the best,” Holyfield said. “Everybody in boxing is supposed to have that `champion’ attitude, which means that you fight the best to prove you’re the best. There was not one day when I was the champion of the world that I didn’t want to prove I was the best. The way I look at it, Bowe and I are the best heavyweights out there.

“Who is Mike Tyson in this day and era? He’s not the same champion he was when he was 20, 21 years old. That’s in the past. If you talk about who the best fighters are today, that’s Bowe and myself. We’re going to get it on. If Tyson wants to fight one of us, fine. But I can’t see why everyone puts so much (emphasis) on someone who has fought only once in four years.”

Muhammad Ali’s biographer, Thomas Hauser, once noted that Ali and Frazier “were fighting for something more important than the heavyweight championship of the world” in the Thrilla in Manila. “They were fighting for the championship of one another.” And so, in a way, were Holyfield and Bowe in the final act of their remarkable rivalry.

Holyfield held the early edge in another humdinger of a battle, knocking Bowe down for the first time in the younger, larger man’s career in the sixth round, and he seemed to be in control when momentum took a sudden turn only seconds into Round 8. An overhand right dropped Holyfield, hard, and he arose at the count of nine on unsteady legs. That drew a long look from referee Joe Cortez, who signaled the fighters to come forward and engage. Making the most of his opportunity to close the show, Bowe delivered a pair of rights to the head that sent Holyfield to his knees and obliged Cortez to wave a halt to the proceedings.

“When he stayed down for that long of a time (after the first knockdown), I knew I would get him,” said Bowe, who went off as a 3-1 favorite. “I knew, if I maintained my composure, I would get him.”

There would be more exclamation-point moments for Holyfield, who would go on to fight for nearly 16 more years and win a version of the heavyweight championship twice more, giving him a record four division titles, the most obvious successes being his pair of conquests of Tyson. Bowe, despite posting a final record of 43-1 with 33 KOs, would not fare as well in his professional dotage. He was badly beaten up in his two bouts with the “Foul Pole,” Andrew Golota, who still found a way to screw things up en route to bookend DQ losses for repeated low blows. Eight years after the second “victory” over Golota, Bowe made a comeback in 2004, winning three bouts against third-tier opponents, the last of which, at 40, was an eight-round unanimous decision over someone named Gene Pukall on Dec. 13, 2008.

The lives of the Boys of November have been marked by disappointment and turmoil outside the ropes. Holyfield, for so long perceived as boxing’s St. George equivalent, a knight in shining armor who dashed around the countryside slaying dragons and righting wrongs, endured three divorces and the embarrassment of foreclosure on his 109-room mansion in Fairburn, Ga. Bowe, a two-time champion, has had an even rockier time of it. He was served 30 days in prison after pleading guilty to a domestic violence charge, which was part of a plea bargain involving the kidnapping of his first wife, Judy (who later divorced him) and the couple’s five children; arrested for assaulting his second wife, Terri, and he washed out of Marine Corps boot camp after only three days of actual training.

As Joe Louis and Mike Tyson demonstrated, as have so many other former champs, fame does not necessarily evaporate like morning dew, but wealth (Holyfield earned an estimated $250 million in purses) can and does. It’s difficult to climb that figurative mountain, but even more difficult to remain at its summit.

No matter what, though, Holyfield and Bowe gave us three electrifying nights for the ages. For that, fight fans should forever be grateful.

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Andy Ruiz and Filip Hrgovic on the Road to Oleksandr Usyk

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Mexican-American Andy Ruiz and Croatian Filip Hrgovic were instructed by the IBF to begin negotiations for their fight for the Interim heavyweight title, which consequently provides the winner with the opportunity to face the champion Oleksandr Usyk who also holds the WBO and WBA super champion belts.

Ruiz (35-2, 22 KOs) and Hrgovic (15-0, 12 KOs) have 30 days, expiring on February 19, to reach an agreement. Otherwise, the IBF will hold a public auction to see who will promote the bout.

The IBF decision took into account the fact that Hrgovic is the top-ranked contender, while Ruiz is ranked third. The second slot is vacant.

About a year ago, the IBF had confirmed the fight between Ruiz and Hrgovic, with the intention of defining a mandatory challenger for southpaw Usyk (20-0, 13 KOs), but the American withdrew from negotiations due the fact that he was recovering from an alleged injury.

Thirty-three-year-old Ruiz from Imperial, California was victorious in his last two bouts, the most recent on September 4th in Los Angeles by unanimous decision against Cuban southpaw Luis “King Kong” Ortíz (33-3, 28 KOs).

After the victory over Ortíz, Ruiz stated that his immediate goal is to face former world champion Deontay Wilder (43-2-1, 42 KOs) as a victory over Wilder would provide him with the opportunity to face Brit Tyson Fury (33-0-1, 24 KOs), the current WBC champion.

A few weeks later, Ruiz received a boost from the WBC, which confirmed at their 60th annual convention in November that the winner of the fight between Ruiz vs Wilder would face the winner of Fury vs Derek Chisora  ​​(33-13, 23 KOs).

Fury, thirty-four years old, had no difficulty in defeating Chisora by way of chloroform in the tenth round on December 3rd at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.

However, now after the IBF mandate, Ruíz’s long-awaited confrontation with Wilder remains in limbo. Recently, Malik Scott, Wilder’s coach, expressed that although Ruíz is a strong adversary, he is not on the same level as Wilder.

Scott stated, “Andy Ruiz is a serious test. Not just for Deontay but for anybody. But for a disciplined Deontay, in my opinion, Andy Ruiz doesn’t even come close to being in the same league as him. Because what beats Andy Ruiz? Discipline! An old [Chris] Arreola gave him trouble just with discipline. Andy’s problem is he can’t beat disciplined fighters. I had Arreola winning by two rounds. Against Deontay, Andy is going to reach, he has to, we’re taller, and when he reaches, he’s going to pay like he’s never paid before.”

Prior to Ruiz’s recent two victories, he lost by unanimous decision to Brit Anthony Joshua on December 7, 2019 in Saudi Arabia. Only six months had passed since Ruiz knocked out Joshua in the seventh round and seized the IBF, WBA and WBO belts from him on June 1 at New York’s legendary Madison Square Garden.

Hrgovic, three years younger than Ruiz and born in Zagreb, Croatia, comes off a difficult win against Chinese southpaw Zhilei Zhang (24-1-1, 19 KOs) at the Superdome in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Although the three officials handed in scorecards of 115-112 (2x) and 114-113 in favor of Hrgovic, Zhang had sent the European to the canvas in the opening round.

Article submitted by Jorge Juan Álvarez in Spanish.

Please note any adjustments made were for clarification purposes and any errors in translation were unintentional.

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Artem Dalakian, Sunny Edwards, and the Most Storied Title in Boxing

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When the mighty Roman Gonzalez departed the 112lb division in 2016 he vacated the title and broke the longest remaining lineage in the sport. In a moment of quiet heartbreak for the boxing aficionado, the final direct link with boxing’s glorious past was cut forever.

That lineage had begun back in 1975 with perhaps the greatest flyweight champion, Miguel Canto.  Canto cleaned house that year, shading the wonderful Betulio Gonzalez and the evergreen Shoji Oguma, part of a calendar year that saw him go 6-0 and establish his absolute pre-eminence in the deepest of flyweight divisions. In 1979, old in the face, Canto was out-worked and even in some ramshackle way out-jabbed by a swarming, aggressive Korean named Chan Hee Park. Park was a good fighter, Shoji Oguma lay in wait to send him tumbling with counter-rights, taking his turn in an impressive second tour. In 1981, the new generation asserted itself in the form of Antonio Avelar.  Avelar seemed, briefly, to be the real deal but he was unseated by a murderous punching Colombian, Prudencio Cardona, who inflicted upon Avelar the most violent knockout in flyweight history.

This heralded the advent of a series of caretaker champions, good fighters, all, but no great ones as the early eighties evaporated while the hot-potato flyweight championship passed from Fredy Castillo to Eleoncio Mercedes to Charlie Magri and others, none of them holding it for more than a matter of months. When the mighty Sot Chitalada wrestled it from the last caretaker champion in 1984, Canto finally had a descendent who could be named a peer. In two spells, Chitalada held the title into the 1990s whereupon it was ripped from him by the Thai Maungchai Kittikasem who then dropped it to an early emergent of the Soviet and former Soviet schools in Yuri Arbachakov.  Arbachakov was the first flyweight whose legacy was to suffer at the hands of the ABC title-belt madness, his record-breaking spell as champion marred by matches with WBC-nominated journeymen. Despite his lengthy title reign, Yuri managed to fight men who were held to belong in the top ten just twice as champion.

Less than a year after the lineal title and Arbakachov were parted, it would be wrapped around the waist of a youngster named Manny Pacquiao, who had crushed Chatchai Sasakul in eight who had in turn outpointed Arbachakov. From the madness of the alphabet soup to the emergence of one of the greatest fighters of our time, the story of the flyweight lineal championship is the story of modern boxing untrampled by titular uncertainty. The history of the championship, of the divisional king, can be traced back to a time when Muhammad Ali ruled the world and so a fistic tendril connects Ali, a hero to his people, to Pacquiao, a hero to his. Pacquiao nearly ruined it all though.  Manny missed weight for his 1999 match with Boonsai Sangsurat and had he won that fight, the title would have been vacated as he departed the weight forever, but fortunately, a weight-drained mess, he was crushed in three rounds.

Pongsaklek Wonjongkam then, when he lifted the title in 2001, became the latest great to trace his lineage back to Canto. Wonjongkam’s reign was as modern as can be imagined, dictated thoroughly by ABCs, fought almost exclusively in his backyard, and despite amassing an astonishing twenty title defences in two spells as king, his win resume underwhelms. A list of the worst ever lineal title challengers would draw heavily from Wonjongkam’s opposition.

Wonjongkam made way for Sonny Boy Jaro of The Philippines who made way for Toshiyuki Igarashi and Akira Yaegashi, both of Japan, underlining what has always been the most international of championships. And finally, at the end of the longest road in modern boxing, the title was lain at the feet of a great fighter from Nicaragua, the wonderful Roman Gonzalez.

Roman Gonzalez was my favourite fighters for years, I watched his boxing obsessively. More than a decade ago, I wrote an article predicting his eventual enshrinement as a pound-for-pound number one and his likely vanquishment by a southpaw, even going so far as to predict this would occur up at 115lbs, all of which came true. But it cut me when he stepped aside in 2016, the lineage that had begun with Canto destroyed, a lineage that had run through four different abdications and coronations at 160lbs, that ran all the way back to the last golden age of the flyweight division.

From the ashes, finally, a phoenix menaces. Far from stipulated, certainly not sure, but stirring. On Saturday night, Ukrainian Artem Dalakian (pictured) came to London to meet David Jimenez on the undercard of the Artur Beterbiev-Anthony Yarde fight. Dalakian-Jimenez is one of those rare and wonderful fights British and American fans are sometimes treated to, elite combat athletes who struggle to secure rewarding purses fighting low on a card which a just sport might see them headline. Jimenez, the challenger for Dalakian’s strap, refutes befuddlement with aggression, boxable but brutal, left floundering early in the biggest fight of his career against Ricardo Sandoval only to button up and fire forwards, hard-scrabbling enough rounds to conquer his more cultured foe. This would be his approach, too, against Dalakian. Dalakian is a fighter of no small culture whose activity suffered during those COVID months but with a legacy that stretches back to the last generation of top flyweights and a victory over Brian Viloria. Having boxed just twenty rounds in three years he was now bringing an unfortunate mix of rust and, at thirty-five years old, age.

Nevertheless, for me he dominated Jimenez. The younger man was reasonably quick-handed and tried to remain ambitious in his rushes, but Dalakian was never less than the cleaner puncher and rested on a steeper bank of experience that saw him nullify his more aggressive foe inside while consistently out-scoring him outside. It was a thoroughly impressive performance that confirmed Dalakian’s remaining superiority over most of the rest of the division. Jimenez, in just his thirteenth fight, had established himself firmly in the divisional top five and likely has a future at 112lbs if he wants it. This was a crossroads fight only in the sense that it tested the last generation with the new, and the new was found wanting.

This victory, a unanimous decision over twelve, was a significant one for Dalakian, however. For me, it establishes him as the number one flyweight in the world but at worst he is the number two. The man with whom he shares the top table is one Sunny Edwards, a London boy and very much the division’s coming man. Edwards has boxed nearly as many contests in the upper echelons of the division as Dalakian, and Dalakian’s victory over Viloria aside, Edwards probably has the most meaningful victory of the two having defeated the ageing Moruti Mthalane in early 2021. The recency of his important victories is the source of the tension concerning the number one divisional flyweight currently.

Sunny

Sunny Edwards

The hope is the two will settle this in the ring.

While it is not unusual for a fighter to arrive from foreign shores and never be seen in a British ring again, it is more often the case that they arrive with targeted opposition when they are boxing at title level, and from Dick Tiger to Zolani Tete, Britain welcomes foreign winners with open arms. It is likely that Dalakian has been brought to Britain to tease a fight with the only man in the division that might be seen as his better and in the only fight either man could hope to box and be similarly enriched. Some promotional tensions exist, but what would be unusual money for a flyweight contest might tip the scales.

And if they settle it in the ring, as the number one and number two flyweight contenders, they will start a new lineage, a new passage of the flyweight title. More than that, the fight would be a fascinating and evenly matched contest between Dalakian, a technician who will likely be forced to box with pressure as a result of his physical limitations and Edwards, a quick-footed slickster who will nevertheless have to commit to outworking maybe the only fighter in the division with superior straight punches. That is not to say that Mexican Julio Cesar Martinez will be excluded – clearly the division’s number three, he may yet have a say.

But if a new and meaningful lineage is to begin it is Dalakian and Edwards, the two best flyweights on the planet, who must seed it.

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Emanuel Navarrete Aims to Become Champion in a Third Weight Class on Friday

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Champion in both the super bantamweight and featherweight categories, the strong Mexican puncher Emanuel Navarrete will try to be champion at 130 pounds on Friday, February 3, when he faces Australian Liam Wilson at the Desert Diamond Arena in the city of Glendale, Arizona. ESPN will be broadcasting the fight.

For Navarrete (36-1, 30 KOs), who has a 31-fight winning streak since his one and only setback in July 2012, the duel with Wilson will be his debut into the super featherweight division.

Navarrete, 28 years old and born in San Juan Zitlaltepec, defeated his countryman Eduardo Báez with a sixth-round knockout last July in San Diego, California, where the winner made his third successful defense of the WBO featherweight title.

Subsequently, Navarrete decided to seek the WBO championship at 130 pounds which had been vacated after the talented American southpaw Shakur Stevenson (19-0, 9 KOs) was unable to make weight on the scale before unanimously defeating Brazilian Robson Conceicao on September 23rd in New Jersey.

The WBO accepted Navarrete’s request to fight for the vacant title and opened the doors to fellow Aztec Oscar Valdez (30-1, 23 KOs), ranked second by the WBO and third by the WBC.

But in December, Valdez’s camp announced that he was withdrawing from the fight after undergoing a medical evaluation. Australian Liam Wilson (11-1, 7 KOs), ranked third by the WBO, was designated to take Valdez’s place.

A confident Navarrete stated: “This is my opportunity to become a three-division world champion. I am going for that crown. Liam Wilson is a good fighter, but this is my moment, and everyone will see a much more complete ‘Vaquero’ Navarrete that has a lot of thirst for victory. My ideal weight is 130 pounds, and that will be demonstrated on February 3rd when I become world champion for Mexico and San Juan Zitlaltepec. Wilson will not get in the way of my dream.”

Navarrete began his string of 31 wins after losing in four rounds against his compatriot Daniel Argueta on July 26, 2012, at the José Cuervo Hall in the finals of the XVIII Gold Belt Tournament. Despite the setback, Navarrete was the one declared champion of the contest, as Argueta failed to show up for the mandatory weigh-in.

Although he is on the verge of conquering his third championship in a third weight division, Navarrete has not defined what his immediate steps will be.

“Let’s see how things evolve,” Navarrete said. “We will see how I feel (at 130 pounds), and then make the right decision. It all depends on how I perform in February and analyze the result. How my body assimilates to the new weight class and things like that.”

Likewise, Navarrete confirmed that he was having difficulty making 126 pounds and that during his career in both the super bantamweight and featherweight divisions he had tried to unify the titles with the other champions without success.

“You know that I have been seeking unification fights in other weight classes,” stated Navarrete. “That is what I want, and what I’m looking for. I hope I can unify in this weight class (130 pounds). But first I hope to win against Wilson, and then we will decide.”

When analyzing his possibilities in the super featherweight division, Navarrete said that he has a tall stature which can benefit him. In the same sense, he considered that now at 130 pounds he will not have to wear himself out to make weight so he will be strong.

Wilson, 26 years old, won the vacant WBO International belt against Argentine Adrián Rueda (37-2, 32 KOs) on June 29th of last year in Brisbane, Australia. Wilson’s lone loss came from Filipino southpaw Joe Noynai (20-3-2, 8 KOs), who knocked him down once in the 1st round, twice in the 4th round, and again in the fifth round on July 7, 2021, in Newcastle, Australia, before referee Phil Austin stopped the lopsided match.

Wilson, however, got even eight months later in a rematch where he chloroformed Rueda in the second round and regained the WBO Asia-Pacific title.

For his upcoming fight, Wilson has set up a seven-week training camp in Washington DC at Headbangers Boxing Gym where Isaac Dogboe trains. Dogboe has fought Navarrete twice and can hopefully provide some valuable insight. “I’m only going off YouTube footage, so to get the advice off Isaac and his trainer over here, they’ve been in the corner against him, they’ve seen him in person, up close, so I have to take their advice onboard,” Wilson added.

Wilson is confident going into this fight, even though he has less professional experience. “He’s been in these fights so many times before. This is my first 12-rounder,” Wilson said. “In a sense, he has every reason to overlook me – I’ve only been in 10 rounders, he’s been 12 rounds multiple times, he’s a two-division world champion and for him it’s just another fight, for me it’s what I’ve dreamed of. I think I’ll be the bigger, stronger fighter. I believe I’ll be the biggest puncher he’s fought.”

Article submitted by Jorge Juan Álvarez in Spanish.

Please note any adjustments made were for clarification purposes and any errors in translation were unintentional.

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