Emanuel Navarrete successfully defended his WBO featherweight title against Eduardo Baez, winning the contest via a sixth-round clinch knockout in San Diego.
The Mexican (35-1, 30KO), two-division champion, started slowly in what was his first fight in 10 months – the fighter’s longest absence from the ring in eight years.
Indeed, as he grew in the contest thereafter, two of the three judges in Pat Russell (49-46) and Zachary Young (50-45) had him behind on the scoreboard before the knockout, the Dr. Lou Moret having him just ahead. (48-47).
Despite a promising performance from Baez (22-2-2, 7KO), showing movement, solid defense and a chin, it was a vicious body shot from Navarrete that was to prove the challenger’s loss.
Indeed, Navarrete appeared more determined at the start of the sixth round, throwing his left hook with more conviction, and although Baez defended against the attack, blocking headshots with a tight guard, he was not not prepared for the body shot that would. suddenly end the fight.
A well-placed left hook to the body by Navarrete knocked Baez back and dropped to his knees, and he remained on the canvas for the entirety of referee Jack Reiss’ 10 count to end the fight.
“It’s a very Mexican punch,” Navarrete said of the crucial body shot to win the fight.
“I don’t throw a perfect left hook like you are used to. But this one is perfect for me. And you saw the result because not many guys can take that shot.
“I won’t deny that the 10 months away from the ring made it difficult. Taking so much time off and then melting down to 126 made it difficult for me, but I pulled it off.”
In response to talk of a potential fight with Shakur Stevenson, Navarrete added, “I want to sit back and enjoy this win.
“After that, I will sit down with my team and together we will decide what is the best next step to take.”
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