GLENDALE, AZ (August 13, 2023) – The highly anticipated championship fight between Emanuel Navarrete and Óscar Valdez was all the fight fans expected, an out-all war! Many felt this contest would mirror battles between Mexican greats Erik Morales vs. Marco Antonio Barrera, both of whom were in attendance.
The combat was contested for Navarrete’s World Boxing Organization’s (WBO) Super Featherweight championship and was held at the Desert Diamond Arena, Glendale, Arizona. The event was aired on ESPN.
Navarrete started the fight intense, throwing 73 punches to 33 coming from Valdez. This set the landscape and the course for the contest. The fast start of Navarrete had come as a surprise to Valdez since Navarrete is typically a wait-and-see type of boxer that finishes strong in his battles.
Valdez had many good moments throughout the contest and a few rounds that were his. However, he could not gain Navarrete’s respect even in Valdez’s flurries and favorable rounds. Navarrete did an excellent job of keeping the fight at his distance and being the taller boxer with a 6-inch reach advantage. This took Valdez out of his comfort zone to where he could not fight his fight. Take Valdez’s left hook to the jaw; this punch usually puts his opponents down or in la-la land, but that was not the case against Navarrete. Unable to set and leverage his punches, Valdez’s signature punches merely became arm punching, lacking the power behind the shot.
Midway through the contest, Valdez’s right eye started to swell, and when the championship rounds came, Valdez’s chances of winning became a hope rather than a possibility. In the final rounds, the right eye had wholly shut from the swelling with a hematoma below the eye. Valdez’s punch output became less effective with each ensuing round, and his punch count remained at an average of 35 per round. However, in round 10, Valdez threw 51 punches, his highest per round of the night.
When the judges’ scorecards were tallied, Lisa Giampa 119-109, Chris Wilson 118-110, and Zachary Young 116-112 favored Navarrete, and I do not quarrel with the scores. The scores being what they were, let’s not get things twisted; this contest lived up to the hype, a war between Mexican combatants.
I, for one, welcome a rematch, and I, for two, see a much different Valdez should he train to improve his difficulties from this contest. I, for three, see a different outcome, and a trilogy will happen.
People ask me if I see a trilogy of contests between these two boxers that will compare to Morales and Barrera. I do not because Morales and Barrera had no love or respect for each other. There was legitimate hate against each other. I do, however, see a great trilogy between Navarrete and Valdez in the sense of astonishing skills and talent.
See you at the fights! Say hello and buy me a cup of coffee.