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Navarrete Seeks Unification After Baez Fight

After 10 months away from the ring, Emanuel Navarrete returns to featherweight boxing this weekend.

But the WBO Featherweight Belt holder already has an eye to the future.

Ahead of his fight against Eduardo Baez on August 20th, Navarrete has declared that he’s eager to unify with any of the other 126-pound champions in the featherweight division, before moving up a weight class. Having had a break from boxing this year, 27-year-old Navarrete seems intent on throwing himself back into his career.

With a period of sustained intensity between 2019-2021 which saw him contest nine world title matches over a three and a half year period, Mexico’s top featherweight fighter is back and focused on moving up the boxing ladder.

The Impressive Rise of Emanuel Navarrete

Boasting a near impeccable record of 35-1-0, Emanuel Navarrete has spent the past decade devastating the featherweight division. All but six of his wins have come by way of knockout, while his only loss was contentious—happening in the first year of his career, to a boxer who missed the weigh in.

Naverrete claimed the vacant Featherweight WBO Title in late 2020, when he defeated Ruben Villa in a unanimous decision. Since then, he’s successfully defended the belt against Christopher Diaz through a late technical knockout, and Joet Gonzalez, again in a unanimous decision. With the biggest accomplishment of his career and two successful defenses under his belt, Naverrete elected to take the start of 2022 off, to tend to his family and work on his physique.

Now, he is back, looking in great shape, and seemingly ready to continue motoring up the boxing ranks.

Recently, he has spoken to media, saying, “I would like to unify with anyone of the other 126-pounds champions. After that, going up to 130-pounds, where I could face Oscar Valdez. That would be a fight I’d love very much.”

Baez Fight Little More Than a Warm Up

For his first fight of the year, Navarrete has a moderately underwhelming clash set against his fellow countryman, Eduardo Baez.

The two 27-year-old featherweights will face off in San Diego at the Pechange Arena on Saturday night, where Navarrete’s WBO Featherweight Belt is on the line. However, for all extents and purposes this seems like a warm up fight for Navarrete, before he moves on to bigger and better things.

While Baez has a solid record of 21-2-2, he’s not in the same class as Navarrete. The Mexican has only scored seven knockouts in his career, and while he has presented himself as a tough, persistent fighter, it’s hard to see what weapons he has in his armory to hurt the current WBO Featherweight Champion. He comes into this fight off the back of a win, taking out Enrique Vivas in Las Vegas through a majority decision, before which he contested a world title at the super bantamweight level, losing to Ra’eese Aleem.

Perhaps Navarrete is looking for an opportunity to regain some quick momentum ahead of a unification fight, without risking an upset and loss of his WBO Featherweight Belt.

Here’s What the Bookies are Saying About Navarrete vs. Baez

If there was any thought of this being a warm up fight for Navarrete, it seems the bookmakers have caught wind of this.

Current odds have Emanuel Navarrete at -1000 to win the fight outright, against Eduardo Baez’s +600 for a victory his way. This puts Navarrete at a greater than 90% favorite to win this match, with Baez little more than a 1 in 10 shot at success.

Chances are, Navarrete will take a couple of rounds to warm up, as he gets back to being in the ring. Baez is solid, and is the more active of the fighters, having won in March of this year. The Mexican can also wear a few shots, but the reality is Baez doesn’t have the best defense in the business.

With Navarrete’s punching power that has put 29 opponents on the deck, it’s unlikely Baez will be able to take this one the distance, and even less likely he’ll come out victorious. Expect Navarrete to win this one through knockout, somewhere in the middle rounds.

A warmed-up Navarrete will then be on the prowl, looking for a unification fight before he moves up to a higher weight class.

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