Emanuel Navarrete Agrees to Fight Liam Wilson in WBO Junior Lightweight Title Fight

Emanuel Navarrete has a new opponent…

The 27-year-old Mexican professional boxer, a two-division world champion, and Liam Wilson have agreed to a deal for a WBO junior lightweight title fight on February 3 in Glendale, Arizona.

Emanuel Navarrete,Navarrete was set to meet Oscar Valdez in a highly anticipated ESPN/ESPN+ main event, but as BoxingScene first reported, Valdez (30-1, 23 KOs) suffered an injury and withdrew from the fight for the vacant 130-pound title. The nature and severity of the injury was undisclosed.

Navarrete-Wilson will be supported by an intriguing co-feature between Jose Pedraza and Arnold Barboza Jr., both of whom are ranked in ESPN’s top 10 at junior welterweight.

Navarrete, ESPN‘s No. 1 featherweight, holds the WBO title at 126 pounds but will move up four pounds when he’ll be heavily favored to become a three-division champion. The lanky volume-puncher from San Juan Zitaltepec, Mexico, has made three defenses of the title he won in October 2020.

Navarrete (36-1, 30 KOs) also held a title at 122 pounds. He’s coming off a sixth-round KO of Eduardo Baez in August.

Wilson (11-1, 7 KOs) is the next available contender in the WBO‘s 126-pound rankings, though he isn’t rated in ESPN’s top 10. The 26-year-old has never competed outside Australia and has never faced a notable opponent.

They’ll vie for one of the two titles vacated by Shakur Stevenson after he missed weight in September.

Valdez, a two-time Olympian from Mexico, was routed by Stevenson in April. His September 2021 victory over Robson Conceicao was marred by a positive test for the banned stimulant phentermine weeks before the bout.

Valdez figures to land a shot at Navarrete once he has recovered if “Vaquero” wins as expected.

Pedraza (29-4-1, 14 KOs), a 33-year-old Puerto Rican, was set to fight Teofimo Lopez this past Saturday but fell ill. Now, Pedraza will meet Barboza in a fight with title implications at 140 pounds. A former titleholder at 130 pounds, Pedraza is rated No. 10 by ESPN at 140. He’s coming off a draw with Richard Commey in August.

Barboza (27-0, 10 KOs) is coming off a unanimous-decision victory over Danielito Zorrilla in July. A 30-year-old from Los Angeles, Barboza is rated No. 6 by ESPN at 140 pounds.

Oscar Valdez to Fight Emanuel Navarrete for Vacant WBO Junior Lightweight Title

Oscar Valdez will be fighting for a title in February…

The 31-year-old Mexican professional boxer will fight Emanuel Navarrete for the vacant WBO junior lightweight title on February 3 in Glendale, Arizona, according to ESPN.

Oscar ValdezThe Top Rank Boxing on ESPN main event will be supported by an intriguing co-feature between Jose Pedraza and Arnold Barboza Jr., both of whom are ranked in ESPN’s top 10 at junior welterweight.

Valdez and Navarrete will vie for one of the two titles vacated by Shakur Stevenson after he missed weight in September. The bout shapes up as a slugfest between two pressure fighters who have been involved in some brutal boxing matches.

Valdez, a two-time Olympian from Sonora, Mexico, spent a good portion of his childhood in Tucson, Arizona. He welcomed raucous fan support for his September 2021 decision victory over Robson Conceicao in Tucson and will now compete in a third title fight in Arizona.

That victory was marred by a positive test for the banned stimulant phentermine weeks before the bout.

Afterward, Valdez (30-1, 23 KOs) was routed by Stevenson in an April title unification at 130 pounds, the first loss of his pro career. Valdez also held a title at 126 pounds. He’s currently rated No. 3 by ESPN at junior lightweight.

Navarrete, ESPN’s No. 1 featherweight, holds the WBO title at 126 pounds but will move up four pounds when he attempts to become a three-division champion. The lanky volume-puncher from San Juan Zitaltepec, Mexico, has made three defenses of the title he won in October 2020.

Navarrete (36-1, 30 KOs) also held a title at 122 pounds. He’s coming off a sixth-round KO of Eduardo Baez in August.

Pedraza (29-4-1, 14 KOs), a 33-year-old Puerto Rican, was set to fight Teofimo Lopez on Saturday but fell ill. Now Pedraza will meet Barboza in a fight with title implications at 140 pounds.

A former titleholder at 130 pounds, Pedraza is rated No. 10 by ESPN at 140. He’s coming off a draw with Richard Commey in August.

Barboza (27-0, 10 KOs) is coming off a unanimous-decision victory over Danielito Zorrilla in July. A 30-year-old from Los Angeles, Barboza is rated No. 6 by ESPN at 140 pounds.

Teofimo Lopez to Fight Sandor Martin Next Month in New York

Teofimo Lopez has reportedly locked in his next opponent…

The 25-year-old Honduran American boxer and former lightweight champion has agreed to fight Sandor Martin on December 10 in New York, according to ESPN.

Teofimo Lopez Jr.Martin (40-2, 13 KOs) replaces Jose Pedraza, who withdrew from the 140-pound Top Rank on ESPN bout with a non-COVID illness.

Martin, a 29-year-old Spaniard, scored a career-best win last year with a major upset of Mikey Garcia. Martin had never competed outside Europe but traveled to California as a 10-1 underdog to defeat Garcia, a former four-division champion, via majority decision. Garcia announced his retirement afterward. 

Now, Martin has parlayed that victory into another career-defining opportunity. He was considered for the Lopez assignment before Pedraza landed the fight, but he remained in training.

A tricky boxer with an impressive jab, Martin will once again be facing long odds.

Lopez (17-1, 13 KOs) was recognized as one of the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighters before he dropped a decision to George Kambosos last November in ESPN‘s upset of the year. It was later revealed that Lopez fought Kambosos with a slight esophageal tear.

Lopez, who fights out of Las Vegas, returned from his first defeat in August with a seventh-round TKO over Pedro Campa in his 140-pound debut. His 135-pound campaign included a victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko to capture the undisputed lightweight championship.

This will be Lopez’s third fight following ESPN’s annual coverage of the Heisman Trophy presentation. He’s rated No. 9 at junior welterweight.

Teofimo Lopez In Final Talks to Fight Jose Pedraza in December

Teofimo Lopez is thisclose to booking his next bout…

The 25-year-old Honduran American boxer, a former unified lightweight world champion, is in the process of finalizing a deal for a December10 junior welterweight fight against Jose Pedraza in New York.

Teofimo LopezThe bout will be Lopez’s second at 140 pounds following a 135-pound campaign that included a victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko to capture the undisputed lightweight championship.

It will be the third time that Lopez (17-1, 13 KOs) would fight following ESPN‘s coverage of the Heisman Trophy presentation.

Lopez, who fights out of Las Vegas, returned from his first defeat in August with a seventh-round TKO over Pedro Campa.

Pedraza (29-4-1, 14 KOs), a 33-year-old from Puerto Rico, is a far tougher test as a former two-division champion. He was stopped by Gervonta Davis in Round 7 of a 2017 matchup at 130 pounds but went on to win a vacant 135-pound title with a victory over Ray Beltran one year later.

Pedraza lost that lightweight belt to Lomachenko via decision later in 2018 and dropped another decision to Jose Zepeda in 2019. Pedraza won three bouts against lesser opposition but is winless in his past two outings — a decision defeat to Jose Ramirez in March and a draw with Richard Commey in August.

Lopez was recognized as one of the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighters before he dropped a decision to George Kambosos in November in ESPN‘s upset of the year. It was later revealed that Lopez fought Kambosos with a slight esophageal tear.

Lopez subsequently moved to 140 pounds, where he could challenge for a title next year with a win against Pedraza.

Jose Pedraza Defeats Mikkel LesPierre in Catchweight Bout

Jose Pedraza is back in winning form…

The 31-year-old Puerto Rican boxer and former two-time world champion was in excellent form this week as he dominated Mikkel LesPierre, dropping his opponent twice in the 144-pound catchweight bout in the main event of a Top Rank card in Las Vegas.

Jose Pedraza

The scorecards read 100-88, 99-89 and 99-89 in favor of Pedraza (27-3), who showed that he still has a chance to be a title contender.

“I had it all coming together for me,” Pedraza said. “In boxing you can’t have an off night. I was physically fit, I was mentally fit, spiritually fit. I put it all together this evening, I couldn’t afford not to. That’s the kind of performance you get from me when I’m 100 percent focused.”

There was some controversy in the fifth round as LesPierre sent Pedraza to the canvas with a straight left to the body. Later on in the round, Pedraza evened things up by scoring his own knockdown with a left hook-right hook combination.

But before the sixth round started, referee Kenny Bayless paused the action to check the replay in accordance with Nevada State Athletic Commission rules and decided that LesPierre had tangled his feet with Pedraza, and he overturned his original ruling.

But that moment was simply academic, because Pedraza was the dominant force throughout the fight. Boxing out of both the right-handed and southpaw stance, he darted in and out, throwing slashing punches that came from all directions. His upper-body movement made him an elusive target for LesPierre. To cap things off, Pedraza scored another knockdown in the 10th from a left hand and had LesPierre staggering. To LesPierre’s credit, he showed great heart and made it to the final bell.

LesPierre, who worked at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York throughout the coronavirus pandemic, fell to 22-2-1. The 35-year-old had his moments, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Pedraza’s speed and power. By the end of the night, he had a bloody nose and a cut near the corner of his right eye. LesPierre had challenged Maurice Hooker last year for the WBO’s 140-pound title.

Coming off his listless effort against Jose Zepeda last September, there were many questions about the future prospects of Pedraza. Prior to that defeat, the only boxers to beat him were Gervonta Davis and Vasiliy Lomachenko

While his performance versus Zepeda left much to be desired, on this night he was quick, fast and decisive with his movements on both offense and defense. He’s now focused on another title bout in the 140-pound class, which has two unified champions in Jose Ramirez and Josh Taylor.

Jose Zepeda to Fight Ivan Baranchyk in July

Jose Zepeda is ready to rumble…

The 31-year-old Mexican American boxer is set to fight Ivan Baranchyk in a 10-round junior welterweight matchup on Thursday, July 9 in Las Vegas, according to ESPN.

Jose Zepeda

Zepeda (31-2, 25 KOs) is a well-schooled southpaw with solid boxing skills. In February 2019, Zepeda lost a disputed majority decision versus WBC titleholder Jose Ramirez in Fresno, California. In his most recent bout, in September, he won a unanimous decision against Jose Pedraza.

Baranchyk, 27, (20-1, 13 KOs), the former IBF junior welterweight titleholder, is coming off a fourth-round stoppage of Gabriel Bracero in October. His lone loss came against Josh Taylor in May 2019 in the semifinals of the World Boxing Super Series.

Jose Zepeda Defeats Jose “Sniper” Pedraza in Biggest Win of His Career

Jose Zepedahas scored the biggest win of his career…

The 34-year-old Mexican American professional boxer and junior welterweight contender earned a unanimous decision against former lightweight and junior lightweight world titlist Jose “Sniper” Pedraza, who was moving up to 140 pounds.

Jose Zepeda

Zepeda, a southpaw, outworked and outfought Pedraza in an entertaining fight and won 97-93 on all three scorecards.

“It’s probably one of the best days of my life. It’s Mexican Independence Day. I was giving everything for Mexico,” Zepeda said. “I guess persistence (was the key to victory). The people here were giving me excitement to go get him, to go after this guy. We knew that he was a hell of a boxer.”

Both of Zepeda’s losses came in world title bouts, a second-round stoppage due to a shoulder injury for a vacant lightweight belt to Terry Flanagan in 2015 and a disputed majority decision to Jose Ramirezfor a junior welterweight title in February. But with a strong performance against Pedraza (26-3, 13 KOs), 30, of Puerto Rico, Zepeda has put himself back in the title hunt and called for a rematch with Ramirez.

“There were talks that maybe the winner of this fight would go after Ramirez,” Zepeda said. “For me, the rematch, I would like that. It was a very close fight. A lot of people thought I won, a lot of people thought he won. I would love a rematch. I think the people would love it, too.”

It took a couple of rounds for the fight to settle into a rhythm, with Pedraza coming forward and Zepeda (31-2, 25 KOs),, looking to counter and relying heavily on his jab.

Zepeda’s rapid-fire left hands landed often in the fifth round, but his jab also proved difficult for Pedraza to handle. In the sixth round, Pedraza began to go more to the body and landed a few shots that were audible at ringside, but Zepeda took the shots well and continued to fire jabs down the middle as Pedraza’s face began to show the wear from the shots.

Pedraza, his right eye closing and perhaps believing he was down, came out strong in the eighth round and landed a hard left hand in the opening seconds and then began to stick his jab in Zepeda’s face over and over, forcing him to back up.

According to CompuBox statistics, Zepeda landed 167 of 470 punches (36 percent) and Pedraza connected with 141 of 439 blows (32 percent).

Pedraza remained aggressive in the 10th round and cut Zepeda over his left eye in the best action round of the fight, one that closed with them in a toe-to-toe exchange.

Pedraza dropped to 1-2 in his past three fights, having lost his lightweight belt by decision to Vasiliy Lomachenko in a unification fight in December before bouncing back with a ninth-round knockout of Antonio Lozadain May, before he elected to move up to junior welterweight.

“It was a very good fight. He looked very well, and I just couldn’t do any of the things I wanted to do,” Pedraza said. “Nothing came out the way I wanted. The instruction from my corner was to throw more punches, but nothing was going my way.

“This was my debut at 140. I felt good. I will meet with my team to evaluate if we stay at 140, or if we move down in weight.”