It’s Mexico v Puerto Rico, as Emanuel Navarrete (32-1, KO27) puts his WBO Featherweight title on the line, and the two weight world champion defends for the first time against Christopher Diaz (26-2, KO16), who has failed in a world title bid once before.
26-year-old Navarrete has been a world champion since late 2018, and has quickly gone through the weights.
After defeat in his sixth fight, ‘Vaquero’ has won 27 straight since, and he became WBO Super Bantamweight champion in December 2018 with a brilliant points win against Isaac Dogboe, who was unbeaten going into their meeting.
An immediate rematch saw Navarrete leave no doubt, dropping the Ghanaian twice on the way to a final round stoppage win.
The Mexican made four successful defences of the title, all by knockout, with Francisco De Vaca (KO3), Juan Miguel Elorde (TKO4), Francisco Horta (KO4) and Jeo Santisima (TKO11) all vanquished, and a move up in weight was a natural next step for the Mexican.
He tested the waters back in his homeland, stopping Uriel Lopez in six in a match changed to a no contest, and last time out, in October 2020, he captured the vacant WBO belt at Featherweight.
But, didn’t have things his own way against Ruben Villa.
Villa was dropped in the first and fourth round, but only lost on two cards by two points, with the knockdowns proving crucial.
Diaz had an unsuccessful attempt at the vacant WBO Super Featherweight crown, where he was floored on the way to a points defeat to Masayuke Ito in July 2018
A victory in November 2018 led to a clash with the gifted Shakur Stevenson, but Diaz was thrashed on the scorecards.
The Puerto Rican has rebounded with two wins since, the last coming in June 2020, outscoring Jason Sanchez over ten.
Prediction: Navarrete will want to impress after being worked hard against Villa in his last fight. The Mexican can do just that, and remove the brave Diaz from battle down the stretch.
The undercard is headed by Super Middleweight banger, Edgar Berlanga (16-0, KO16), and the New Yorker goes for consecutive first round knockout number 17 when he faces Maryland’s Demond Nicholson (23-3-1, KO20).
It’s optimistically set for eight rounds. Berlanga is being hyped as a monster, and his record reflects that. His last single round blowout came in December 2020, when Ulises Sierra was down three times in under three minutes.
Nicholson has been stopped twice in three defeats, so the omens don’t look too good for him here. Jesse Hart was the last man to halt Nicholson early, stopped in seven in April 2018.
He has won five on the spin since, the last a split decision win over Mike Guy in February 2020. The signs point to another early Berlanga win here, and it should be within the opening few frames.
Another hot prospect, Josue Vargas (18-1, KO9), sees action, and the Puerto Rican Super Lightweight based in New York should have enough know-how to deal with Willie Shaw (13-2, KO9) over ten. It should be a comfortable enough win on the scorecards.
There are a pair of eight rounders on the bill, and Joseph Adorno (14-0-1, KO12), who is coming off a split draw, takes on Jamaine Ortiz (14-0, KO8), in what could be a close call that Ortiz may just shade.
Orlando Gonzalez (16-0, KO10) may need all eight sessions to defeat Juan Antonio Lopez (15-8, KO6) in a Featherweight encounter.
The sole six rounder comes at Welterweight, and Xander Zayas (7-0, KO5) can finish Demarcus Layton (8-1-1, KO5) inside the distance.
In four round action, Super Bantamweight, Jeremy Adorno (4-0, KO1), brother of the aforementioned Joseph, should outscore the unbeaten Ramiro Martinez (2-0-2, KO1), and at Super Featherweight, Jaycob Gomez (1-0, KO1) can do the same against Mobley Villegas (3-1, KO2).