Emmanuel Navarrete, 25 of Mexico, added a second world title in as many weight classes this past Saturday from the Bubble in Las Vegas. Navarrete has become a staple of Bob Arum’s Top Rank boxing on ESPN since his breakout performance in winning the WBO 122 lb title back in 2018. He has gone 7-0 with 5 KO’s since that victory and scored his first major victory since his February appearance on the undercard of Wilder vs Fury II. Two judges had the fight closer than I saw it with Cheatham and Deluca scoring the contest even in rounds 6-6 with the two knockdowns sealing the deal. Jarman, whom I’ve had plenty of disagreements over the years had it closer to the way I saw this fight at 115-111. The fan average on Boxrec had it 116-110 as well and Eye on the Ring had mixed reviews but substantiated the winner in Navarete.
|Vacant WBO 126 lb. Title||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||Final|
|Emmanuel Navarrete 31-1(27)||10||10||9||10||10||10||10||9||10||9||9||10||116|
|Ruben Villa 18-0 (5)||8||9||10||8||9||9||9||10||9||10||10||9||110|
Navarrete is a funny case, he leaves himself wide open and throws arm punches and breaks other rules but still maintains effectiveness. Despite falling in and coming up short frequently on his punches, Navarete was still out of Villa’s range to be countered. If Villa stayed inside of Navarrete’s 6 inch reach advantage he got caught with the awkward angled hooks and uppercuts that reddened his face and dropped him on the canvas. When Villa could back up out of Navarrete’s range and be set to counter, he usually only came away with a jab. The knockdown in round 1 was more of a flash knockdown as Villa quickly rose to his feet and seemed to move normally on his feet. The 4th round knockdown was a devastating shot that had Villa visibly shaken. Villa is quite fortunate that there was so little time left on the clock when he rose to his feet. Villa managed to hold on and survive to the bell and at the start of the 5th he regained his legs.
Round by round notes:
Round 1- The fight starts with a patient start jab contests. Navarrete begins opening with hooks, one good lead left hook seems to catch Villa’s attention. Navarrete’s shots are more controlled but still looping at odd angles. A left uppercut shocks villa who falls to his but and is up quick but a big start for Navarrete
Round 2- Villa circles on the outside catching shots in his gloves but is too far our of range to score. Navarrete patiently stalking and sticking shots out but his reach advantage sees him out of danger. Navarrete goes southpaw and then came over the right glove with a left. Navarrete is still getting under Villa’s shots as taller guy and Navarrete then sticks a quick but pawing right for contact.
Round 3- Navarrete sets up his body for a left uppercut to the head but Villa counters with him jab. Villa continues circling constantly to his right then lands a left cross to the head causing Navarrete to back off bouncing on his toes. Villa backs Navarrete up and gets him near the corner Navarrete goes to his 1-2 and Villa backed just out of range and landed a jab to the head. Navarrete’s hand work starts doing well as he slapped down the jab and cross by Villa. Navarrete goes back to showing the left uppercut without throwing. Navarrete remained out of range still throwing and coming up short and Villa lands jabs . Villa connected on a 1-2 as Navarrete landed a solid left to end the round.
Round 4- Similar range to round 3 with Villa on the move a lot and staying at range as the shorter man. Navarrete still stuck shots out and over extended but Villa’s a little too short to land. Limited to just jabs, Villa can make Navarrete look lumbering and off balance but cannot make him pay. Navarrete forced a right through Villa’s guard landing effectively. A big left hook dropped Villa to a knee and it was clear he was more hurt than first knockdown. Navarrete rushed in and they tied up. Villa looked uneasy as he bent down low to avoid an assault and they tied up as Villa pushed Navarrete to the ropes. Villa in total retreat as Navarrete poured on late. Villa very fortunate it happened late. Much like the first knockdown, Villa threw from too far away. He threw the uppercut and dropped his right hand leaving himself completely exposed to the hook
Round 5- Villa retreated as he caught shots on his gloves and eventually held his ground to meet Navarrete in the middle. Villa cannot get the bigger man’s respect but holds his turf. Villa tried to counter. Villa attemoted jabbing and stepping to the right around Navarrete as Navarrete used wide left hooks to corral Villa back into his right. Navarrete ducked inside and countered Villa and found a home for the left hook again. Villa began to hold ground and get tough but does not win the round.
Round 6- This was a close tactical round as Navarrete had positioning problems. He continued to fall out of position in his aggression but Villa is still unable to capitalize. Navarrete landed a few solid rights near the end and carried it.
Round 7- Navarrete stuck out 3 to land 1 but got in and scored. Villa continued moving and still struggled to land more that 1. Navarrete has a moment of stillness and pushes a right cross right through and scored. Navarrete still stuck out his jab despite coming up short. Villa came forward with left hand as the round was coming to a close and Navarrete responded with a left hook then left hook right cross. Competitive round.
Round 8- Navarrete snuck a shot over the right glove of Villa who continues to struggle with the odd angles. Villa scored a rare lead right hook to the head. Villa began moving side to side and Navarrete stayed in front bouncing on his toes with him in his movement. Navarrete keeps dipping his shoulder showing the left uppercut and Villa scored with a jab.
Round 9- Navarrete jabbed over the right hand and landed a right hand down middle. Villa continued to move away from Navarrete using the whole ring. Villa doubled up his jab going body then head. Villa continued to bait Navarrete into lowering his left and jabbed to the head. Villa showed jab causing Navarrete to cover and wide left gets Navarrete to turn his head and cover up. Navarrete comes forwards just after 2 min mark and goes southpaw in the last bit of the round
Round 10- Navarrete started the round behind the jab and coming forward. Villa scored a solid left hand to the head but Navarrete came back after him without much effective scoring. Villa scored another left and moments later Navarrete landed a right. Villa moved effectively but fell short on a left. Navarrete kept the hands down for moment and ate a left but rolled it. Navarrete’s left hook well off mark as he fell forward and Villa’s left hit his guard. Villa doubled his jab and scored a solid right hook around the guard. Strong finish with a left cross to close out for Villa.
Round 11- Villa effectively landing as Navarrete throws a hard right then slings out an uppercut.
Round 12- Villa came out very aggressive as Navarrete fell into corner. Villa landed to the body. Navarrete came after Villa after the first minute but Villa countered well with his left. Navarrete still hard charging and keeping Villa on the move.
Navarrete won a very competitive but clear win. This was the most difficult fight I have seen Navarrete in, I have not seen his loss. In ways Villa exploited the weaknesses Navarrete has shown reminiscent of the Hogan vs Mungia fight. Though this wasn’t a bad decision or deserved loss, Navarrete was off balance and making technical mistakes. These mistakes have existed throughout his time in the spotlight but his opponents have not been capable of taking advantage. The other belt holders at the weight class like Russel, Warrington and Sant Cruz are all vastly superior but Navarrete’s size advantage can see him to victory. I think guys like Shakur Stevenson and Devon Haney trounce him but Navarrete is a tough assignment. For all of his faults, Navarrete is effective in what he does whether it be his size or the odd angle his shots come from or his punch volume. Navarrete continues to roll along.
Ruben Villa is a well schooled and talented professional. As a 23 year old southpaw with some speed and an effective jab he can rise back to the top of the division. The amount of courage he showed in recovering from such a nasty knockdown in the 4th with a dangerous puncher speaks volumes. His recovery and ability to win rounds after that shows class and character.