Dealing with an extremely hot day is not uncommon in Glendale Arizona. But rare indeed is a night with as much prospective heat as this Saturday, August 12th, in the Diamond Desert Arena. Former two-weight world champion, Oscar Valdez(31-1, 23kos) is going for the gold once more against three-weight, and current WBO champion, Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete(37-1, 31kos). This long awaited clash of two all-action, heavy-hitting Mexican pugilists is sure to live up to the hype.
TopRank and Zanfer Promotions come together to put on what is likely to be an instant classic, broadcast by ESPN/ESPN+. The main card is set to begin at 7pm CST with the headlining event estimated to begin around 10pm CST.
The promise of this match-up lies in both the similarities and the differences between them. Valdez and Nevarrete are both intensely tenacious, offensive minded, come-forward, power punchers with a variety of tools to choose from. Navarrete’s awkward style, and ambidextrous attacks are extremely difficult to predict. For example, throwing uppercuts and wide hooks from long range is not typically a great idea for anyone, but Vaquero has made it work, and work well, time and time again. Valdez also holds power in both hands but has a more orthodox delivery system. He has shown that he can work behind a jab, but doesn’t always. Setting up traps for, or just forcing them onto his opponent, his left hooks and overhand rights seem to be his bread and butter. It must be said that these punches are far from the only ones one needs to look out for from either men. Niether would be considered defensive masterminds. Valdez uses his guard and footwork, as well as the occasional parry to protect himself, whereas Navarrete appears to rely on simply bringing more offense as his deterrent.
Though the fight was initially set for February of this year, Valdez had to pull out due to an injury. In lieu of Valdez, Navarrete fought Liam Wilson for the vacant WBO Super Featherweight belt. He ended up hitting the canvas in round 4, to the surprise of many, but rose both from the canvas, and to the occasion, to get a TKO victory in the 9th round. Though the victory, and the belt that came with it, were sweet and deserved, many spectators and talking-heads thought Navarrete appeared to be in less fighting shape than he did while he was making his way through the featherweight division. Without adding speculation as to the reason, it did appear to be at least somewhat of an off night for Vaquero. But Liam Wilsons power and determination to impress the worldwide audience should not be discounted.
Valdez recovered and was able to rematch the tough and aptly named Adam “Bluenose” Lopez in May, where he pulled off a wide unanimous decision victory. Oscar was dropped in their first meeting, over three years prior, before clinching a 7th round TKO. However this was more of a “get back in the win column” fight than a highly demanded rematch. To the uninitiated, Valdez took his first loss and relinquished his WBC Super Featherweight title to Shakur Stevenson a full year before the Lopez rematch. The type of loss he took would have a negative effect on anyone and a comeback fight was an understandable stop on his way back to the match against Navarrete for the WBO belt.
Emanuel Navarrete would very much like to have a win over this caliber of opponent on his record. His two wins over Isaac Dogboe were respectable and celebrated at the time, as they should’ve been, but this was in 2018-19 and two weight classes below. In the time that has passed since he’s gotten many good wins over many good opponents, though none of them were on the same level as the popular former 2-weight world champion, Valdez.
Oscar Valdez yearns for another belt, of course, but one could surmise that a win this Saturday would mean something more. Be it a boost to his pride, popularity, overall standing in the sport, or all of them, Valdez would appear to want to take all he can get.
As far as a loss for either fighter goes, it could be detrimental. I, personally, am not big on labeling a boxing match as “loser goes home” but I am not the only person following the sport. That said, if this battle goes the way it’s expected to, which is what would be called a “slobber-knocker” a “barn burner” or even a “knockdown drag-out” where i’m from, I would imagine neither men will lose any sort of respect from actual fight fans.
Emanuel Navarrete vs Oscar Valdez Full Fight Card:
Emanuel Navarrete vs Oscar Valdez (12 rounds, Super Featherweight, WBO)
Raymond Muratalla vs Diego Torres (10 rounds, Lightweight)
Richard Torrez jr vs Willie Jake jr. (6 rounds, Heavyweight)
Lindalfo Delgado vs Jair Valtierra (10 rounds, Super Lightweight)
Emiliano Vargas vs Jorge Marquez Alverado (4 rounds, Lightweight)
Sergio Rodriguez vs Eduardo Ayala (6 rounds, Super Middleweight)
Ricardo Ruvalcaba vs Adam Kipenga (6 rounds, Super Lightweight)
Antonio Mireles vs Dajuan Calloway (6 rounds, Heavyweight)