Former WBO super bantamweight champion Emanuel ‘Vaquero’ Navarrete 33-1 (28) is looking for a unification bout after claiming the vacant WBO featherweight title against Ruben ‘RV4’ Villa 18-1 (5) at ‘The Bubble’ at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on Friday night.
The 25-year-old Mexican got off to a flyer, dropping Villa in the first with a left uppercut from the outside and repeating the treatment with a left hook in the fourth. But southpaw Villa, 23, from Salinas, California, drew on his extensive amateur experience to box his way back into the fight in the second half.
Navarrete pressured Villa all night with his awkward style but had trouble at times catching up with his mobile opponent.
When the final bell rang all three judges awarded the fight to Navarrete by scores of 114-112, 114-112 and 115-111. If Navarrete didn’t claim the final round, the bout would have been scored a majority draw.
According to CompuBox, both boxers threw more than 600 punches each – 674 for Navarrete, 607 for Villa – but the difference in the fight was the power punches. Navarrete connected with 131 to Villa’s 58.
“I knew that from the beginning he is a great boxer, and that’s what he did, he used his skills and once he felt the power, he was going to move even more,” Navarrete said.
“He started to get on his bike and move around the ring. I couldn’t get the knockout, but the most important thing is I came away with the victory.
“I’m now a two-division world champion. I’m very happy and proud of this belt, because it’s the symbol of all the sacrifices my team and I have made. It’s my payoff. You give us opportunities and we keep taking advantage of them.”
If Navarrete has his way, his next opponent will be undefeated IBF featherweight champion Josh ‘The Leeds Warrior’ Warrington 30-0 (7).
“I have my sights set on all the world champions at 126,” he said. “I would love to face Warrington. I think that our styles will make for a great fight.”
On the undercard middleweight Zhanibek ‘Qazaq Style’ Alimkhanuly 9-0 (5) knocked out Gonzalo Gaston Coria 16-4 (6) in the second round of a scheduled 10-round bout. The 27-year-old Kazakh southpaw had Coria down in the first round before finishing him off with a straight left in round two.
“I want to fight a world champion soon, like Demetrius Andrade and Jermall Charlo. Canelo, of course. Top Rank promotes Ryota Murata 160. I want to fight him as well. Whoever the top guys are 160, I want them next,” said Alimkhanuly, who is ranked in the top 15 of all four major sanctioning bodies.
Also on the card undefeated junior welterweight knockout artist Elvis ‘The Dominican Kid’ Rodriguez 10-0-1 (10) knocked out journeyman Cameron Krael 17-17-3 (4) in the third round with a right hook from the southpaw stance.
“I feel very happy with this performance,” Rodriguez said. “This was my first eight-round fight, and things went way better than expected. I knew that I was facing a tough opponent who had only been stopped once, but I also knew that I had put all the hard work in the gym.
“My goal is to keep bringing up the flag of the Dominican Republic. That’s what I sacrifice for. I do it for my people. This was a big win, and there will be more to come.”