Turn down a fight for what? It’s not what WBO junior featherweight titleholder Navarrete does.
Watching Emanuel Navarrete box, you almost get the feeling that he enjoys fighting a little too much.
After upsetting Isaac Dogboe by unanimous decision to become the WBO junior featherweight champion in December 2018, Navarrete turned right around and defeated Dogboe by 12th-round TKO in the May 2019 rematch. That reinforced that his initial win was far from just a good night or fluke. He then proceeded to defend that very title three more times before the year ended for good measure.
It’s that kind of bustle that has helped the 25-year-old build his reputation as “The Mexican Iron Man.” Navarrete will look to make it five consecutive title defenses when he faces Jeo Santisima on the main card of Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
“This streak I’m riding of five world title defenses in less than nine months has been great for my career,” Navarrete told DAZN News via a translator. “After beating Isaac Dogboe for the world title, I’ve been a very active fighting champion. Thankfully, I’ve not received much punishment during my streak of world title defenses.”
It’s quite the opposite, as Navarrete has been the one doling out the punishment during this stretch with a third-round TKO of Francisco De Vaca in August, a fourth-round TKO of Juan Miguel Elorde less than a month later and a fourth-round stoppage of Francisco Horta in December.
Turn down a fight for what? It’s not going to happen on Navarrete’s watch — he’s putting the fighting in “fighting champion.” Navarrete (30-1, 26 KOs) has never abandoned the hungry, go-getter mentality of being an underdog throughout this period and doesn’t plan to relinquish it moving forward, either.
“Nothing has changed for me,” he said. “In a way, I still see myself as the underdog. That motivates me to keep working hard and to keep improving my skills. I want to get better with each fight that passes. I want to represent the Mexican flag and my motivation is to raise it as high as I can.”
Plus, he’s not shy about saying that he flat out savors fighting, aiming to have as busy of a 2020 as he did last year.
“I like the activity,” Navarrete said. “As long as I keep walking out unharmed from these fights, I would like to keep fighting as much as possible. It will all depend from the opportunities that my promoters present to me. They are doing a great job moving me and I never turn down a fight.”
For Navarrete, there’s a method behind this frantic pace. It’s his hope that he’ll force a unifying title shot with one of the other junior featherweight champions, whether it be newly crowned IBF/WBA champ Murodjon Akhmadaliev or WBC titleholder Rey Vargas.
“My opinion is that they need to fight me,” he said. “I’ve been looking for a title unification fight for a long time. It doesn’t matter, the name. It doesn’t matter who goes first. I want to face them all. I want to unify the division, but I can’t keep waiting forever. It’s getting tougher for me to make the weight. If I don’t get a title unification opportunity soon, I’ll probably move to featherweight.”
Until then, Navarrete has a fight on his hands with Filipino contender Jeo Santisima (19-2, 16 KOs) and he’s not about to overlook the challenge.
“You have to be prepared to go to war at all times and against any opponent,” he said. “I’m ready to go to war.”
Given the amount of eyes that are bound to converge on the Wilder-Fury 2 card, Navarrete sees Saturday night as an opportunity to introduce his brand of boxing to a new audience, while continuing to give familiar fans the fervent fighting they’ve come to know and love from him.
“This is an event that has captured the attention of fans around the world,” he said. “It’s always great to get that kind of exposure and to get to perform in front of such a big audience. This is a great opportunity for me to showcase all my skills on a big stage.
“The fans haven’t seen the best of me yet.”
But they continue to get him in high volume, which cannot be ignored … especially on the biggest boxing card of the year.
Via MARK LELINWALLA / DAZN.com