Top Rank attempt to follow up on what was an all time classic between Jose Zepeda and Ivan Baranchyk last weekend, with another busy bill inside The Bubble of MGM Grand, Las Vegas.
Top of this bill is monster Mexican puncher, Emanuel Navarrete (31-1,1NC KO27), and he attempts to become a two-weight World Champion as he challenges for the vacant WBO Featherweight title left behind by Shakur Stevenson.
Opposing Navarrete will be California’s Ruben Villa (18-0, KO5), who has fought nowhere near world level, but is unbeaten, and earns his shot following a spell as WBO International champion.
Navarrete moves up to Featherweight after five successful defences of the WBO belt at Super Bantamweight, although he did make a Feather debut that was struck from the records back in June.
The 25-year-old San Juan native is unbeaten in over eight years, with his sole loss coming over four rounds in July 2012 against Daniel Argueta.
After 25 fights, it was time to branch out to the USA, where he took a clear decision win over Isaac Dogboe to win the WBO title. The rematch was more decisive, with Navarrete dropping Dogboe twice en route to a final round stoppage win.
All of his other defences failed to last the distance, with Francisco De Vaca (KO3), Juan Miguel Elorde (TKO4) and Francisco Horta (KO4) all put to the sword, and Leo Santisima stopped in eleven rounds.
Navarrete’s bow at Featherweight was successful enough, as he stopped Uriel Lopez in six rounds, but due to no commission being present, and COVID-19 restrictions in Mexico, the fight was ruled a no contest.
Navarrete now aims to add a World Title in a second weight to his collection.
Ruben Villa has plenty of rounds under his belt, going eight rounds four times, and his last three outings have all gone the full ten sessions.
At 23, the Salinas, California native is still fresh, and has mainly being appearing on small hall cards in the USA.
The hat trick of ten round wins have come against fringe contenders in Luis Alberto Lopez Vargas, where Villa won his International belt, Jose Enrique Durantes Vivas, and lastly, in January, against Alexei Collado.
Prediction: Navarrete is a massive puncher, and Villa, although unbeaten, hasn’t faced anyone of the magnitude of the Mexican.
Villa will be game, but his challenge should fade after halfway, with Navarrete breaking him down for a stoppage win.
The undercard sees plenty of fights, but sparse in terms of contests. Two ten-rounders head the preliminaries, with 21-year-old Joseph ‘Blessed Hands’ Adorno (14-0-1, KO12) taking on Avery Sparrow (10-2, KO3) in a Pennsylvania derby at Lightweight.
Talented California based Kazakh, Zhanibek Alimkhanuly (8-0, KO4) sees action at Middleweight against an opponent to be named.
The eight-rounders see a battle of unbeatens, with Maryland’s Lorenzo Simpson (8-0, KO5) meeting Floridian, Sanny Duversonne (11-0-2, KO8). Dominican knockout artist, Elvis Rodriguez (9-0-1, KO9) faces Cameron Krael (17-16-3, KO4) over the eight round distance.
The sole six rounder is at Lightweight, with Bryan Lua (6-0, KO3) and Nelson Colon (4-3, KO3) locking horns.
Two four-rounders complete the bill. Rashiem Jefferson (2-0, KO0) and Steve Garagarza (2-2-1, KO1) meet at Featherweight, while at Super Welterweight, Kahshad Elliott makes his debut against Akeem Jackson (1-1, KO1).