Emanuel Navarrete, is the third-most accomplished Mexican boxer of the modern era, behind Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, and Juan Francisco Estrada.
Nicknamed "Vaquero" or "Cowboy", in English, he has made a name for himself with an awkward and unique fighting style. Tallying a record of 38 wins, 31 of which came by knockout, and a single loss, that seemingly came from a tournament-luke event. He has held titles in three weight classes and is considered one of the best of his era in the three weight classes he has fought at.
His ability to jump weight classes is not just based on his height of five feet, seven inches, but also a long reach which allows him to continue to have a bigger reach against bigger opponents. This along with a high output
Starting as a junior featherweight, Navarrete burst on the scene by outboxing Isaac Dogboe in December 2018 as Dogboe was looked at as a potential star of the lower weights. The rematch in May 2019 saw him stop Dogboe.
Navarrete would win the WBO featherweight title over decorated amateur boxer Ruben Villa in October 2020, as scoring two knockdowns seemed to be the difference in the fight.
Navarrete would make world title defenses over Christopher Díaz and Joet Gonzalez as well.
Then came the second act to his career - struggles and motivation. Being hailed as a fringe pound-for-pound level talent Navarrete spent a good chunk of the fight against Eduardo Baez in being outboxed before landing a big punching and getting a sixth-round knockout.
This was followed up by his debut at the super featherweight division in which he fought for the vacant WBO title against Liam Wilson. Despite being knocked down in the fourth round, he rallied to win by a ninth-round technical knockout. Questions still persisted about his motivation in the gym, as it looked like he had taken Baez and Wilson a tad light.
Navarrete recently got the biggest win of his career by defending his WBO junior lightweight title against Óscar Valdez in August 2023 winning a unanimous decision. Thought to be a competitive bout, Navarrete outthrew Valdez and never allowed Valdez to have any sustained success landing a somewhat one-sided fight that was billed as the next Erik Morales versus Marco Antonio Barera-type bout.
Now where does Navarrete go? He is a three-division world champion, who has been at the top of the sport for half of a decade. We beg the question...
What is next?
Navarree could look to unify his WBO super featherweight title, but the issue is - all the champions are busy. The WBC super featherweight world champion O'Shaquie Foster recently saw Matchroom Boxing secure a purse bid for his title defense against Eduardo "Rocky" Hernandez with no date given. WBA super featherweight champion, Hector Luis Garcia will defend his title against Lamont Roach Jr. which also was determined via a purse bid yet no date has been given as of yet. Finally, the IBF super featherweight world champion, Joe Cordina is strongly rumored to be facing Edward Vasquez later this year.
So what does that mean...none of the world champions are available for Navarrete, and even if they were - none hold a super strong name, like the man he just beat in Oscar Valdez.
The IBF featherweight champion, Luis Alberto Lopez, will make the second defense of his IBF featherweight title, on Friday, September 15th in Texas when he faces Joet Gonzalez. Lopez has previously fought at super featherweight and holds wins over Andy Vences and Gabriel Flores Jr. Given the options, if Lopez were to win, he'd have two directions to go - face a unification bout with Robeisy Ramirez at some point, or move up in weight and face Navarrete in what could be an all-action Mexican blood bath of a boxing match.
Something tells me, we might see Lopez move up in weight and face Navarrete if this fight would present itself for him. Another key detail, he needs to get by Joet Gonzalez, who is a very tough and credible opponent.
This fight is already on the backburner and doesn't feel like an 'if', but rather a 'when' it will happen. Stevenson has even said that after he wins a world title in the lightweight division he'd entertain a fight with Navarrete at a catchweight event. Given the reckless nature of Navarrete's style, he poses some of the threats that gave all-time great fighters like Floyd Mayweather issues as he has elements of Marcos Maidana and even Emanuel Augustus in his style. The bout should happen and will happen. The question is...will it happen next?
If Stevenson leaves the lightweight division to look for 'big fights' at the junior welterweight division, something that has been floated into the world already, another good in-house fight for 2024 could be a world title bout between Navarrete and 2020 Olympic silver medalist Keyshawn Davis. Davis is being moved quickly, as he is already in ten-round main events. Davis is calling for the big names, and soon that is what he is going to get. Navarrete versus Davis will answer questions for both fighters.
Fair is fair. Albert Bell is the number-one contender in the division for the WBO super featherweight world title, and got a stoppage in his last fight, something we have all been calling for. Despite not being a southpaw, Bell has elements of what Shakur Stevenson brings to the table, and could be an interesting test to see how Navarrete hands a pure boxer, who has intentions of spoiling the evening's action.