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Navarrete Vs. Wilson & Pedraza Vs. Barboza Jr On Feb.3rd In Glendale, Arizona

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By Huck Allen: Emanuel Navarrete will be facing replacement opponent Liam Wilson in a scheduled 12 round main event for the vacant WBO super featherweight title, while former two-division world champion Jose Pedraza fights Arnold Barboza Jr. in a 10 round chief support bout on February 3rd at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona. The event will begin at 10:00 p.m. ET on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and ESPN+.

The 27-year-old Navarrete (36-1, 30 KOs) will be attempting to capture his third division world title in the last five years since 2018 when he faces Wilson for the recently vacated WBO 130-lb title that Shakur Stevenson gave up after he moved up to 135.

Navarrete, 5’7″, had previously been scheduled to face superstar Oscar Valdez, but he had to pull out of the card due to an injury. It’s debatable whether Valdez or Navarrete are better off that the fight isn’t happening.

Given the problems that Navarrete had in his fights against Joet Gonzalez and Ruben Villa, you’d have to say that he’s lucky that Valdez suffered an injury because he would have been up against it in that fight.

Valdez punches harder, has more experience against quality opposition, and is the superior fighter technically.

The Australian Wilson (11-1, 7 KOs) is ranked #3 WBO and has won his last two fights against Joe Noynay and Matias Adrian Rueda. Wilson, 26, was stopped in the fifth round by Noynay in 2021, but he came back to avenge his loss with a second round knockout in their rematch last March.

Navarrete has won his last 31 fights since losing to Daniel Argueta in 2012.

The criticism that the Top Rank-promoted Navarrete has received from boxing fans is that he’s been matched against weak opposition much in the same way that former Top Rank fighter Terence Crawford was when he was with the promotional company.

Additionally, some people feel that Navarrete’s success has come due to his massive size advantage over his smaller foes, and they feel that he’s similar to Teofimo Lopez.

Now that Navarrete is moving up to super featherweight, he won’t have quite as much of a size advantage as he was when he was campaigning at 122 & 126.

In Navarrete’s last fight, he stopped Eduardo Baez in the sixth round last August in another example of weak opposition.

This is my opportunity to become a three-division world champion. I am going for that crown,” Navarrete said.

“Liam Wilson is a good fighter, but this is my moment, and everyone will see a much more complete ‘Vaquero’ Navarrete that has a lot of thirst for victory.

“My ideal weight is 130 pounds, which will be demonstrated on February 3rd when I become world champion for Mexico and San Juan Zitlaltepec. Wilson will not get in the way of my dream.”

In the chief support bout, unbeaten Arnold Barboza Jr (27-0, 10 KOs) will fight Jose ‘Sniper’ Pedraza (29-4-1, 14 KOs). This is a fight that Top Rank will be using to show whether the 31-year-old Barboza has the goods to win a world title at 140.

The nine-year professional Barboza is getting up there in age for a fighter that has never won a world title or even faced an A-level opponent during his career.

If Barboza struggles against the 33-year-old Pedraza, it’s safe to say he’s not going anywhere. Pedraza hasn’t looked great since moving up to 140 in 2019, losing to Jose Zepeda and Jose Ramirez while fighting to a 10 round draw against Richard Commey.

Also on the card, is 2020 U.S. Olympic heavyweight silver medalist Richard Torrez Jr (4-0, 4 KOs), facing a still-to-be-determined opponent in a six round bout. Torrez, 6’2”, has a lot of punching power in a compact frame, but he’s not tall for the weight class. The lack of size for Torrez could hold him back.

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