PHOENIX — His WBO junior lightweight world title defense against Oscar Valdez is rapidly approaching and Emanuel Navarrette seemed to come close to saying he’s feeling the pressure of the occasion.
At a Top Rank press conference Thursday to begin the fight week for Saturday’s showdown at the Desert Diamond Arena in nearby Glendale, Navarrette was joined on stage by great Mexican fighters of yesteryear Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales.
“We all know that this fight is raising a lot of expectations,” Navarrette said at the event ProBox TV attended.
“It would be totally fraudulent if Valdez and I didn't give 100 percent in this fight. We all know that everyone expects a war in the ring,” he said. “We have all that it takes to make for a great fight.”
Since a lone blemish on his pro boxing record in 2012, Navarrette has been on a hot winning run having gone unbeaten in every year since.
He won the WBO junior featherweight world title after out-pointing Isaac Dogboe in 2018 and continues to cling on to it today after numerous successful defenses.
However, he seemed to recognize that the level of his competition has not been consistently world level as fans pressurized him to accept a challenge against someone like Valdez.
Now that challenge is here.
“I have said that the fight with Valdez was necessary for my career because of everything it represents,” Navarrette told ProBox TV and other reporters. “The rivalry between Mexicans is something essential. It's a good thing for the fight.
“But boxing fans have also put a lot of pressure on me, saying that my career was missing that cherry on top.”
The 28-year-old added: “They said that I needed an impressive and iconic fight where I exert much more of myself. The fight with Valdez is that kind of fight.”
If that wasn’t enough pressure, there’s also the looming presence of Barrera and Morales and their hulking legacies.
“The fact that Barrera and Morales are here indicates that our promoter wants to tell us something — we have to do something at least similar to what they did.
“Everything is set so that we can deliver a great fight. I see Valdez, and I see that he's ready. We're two days away from getting into the ring, and it's going to be a great night on Saturday.”
A bout between Raymond Muratella and Diego Torres was originally scheduled to feature as Saturday’s co-main event, however, Muratella had to withdraw from the contest due to a training injury, according to a Top Rank statement sent to ProBox TV.
The 10-rounder between Lindolfo Delgado and Jair Valtierra is now the new co-feature.
Elsewhere, heavyweight prospect Richard Torrez Jr., and Emiliano Vargas — son of iconic boxer Fernando Vargas — compete in separate, career-building bouts.