In all of combat sports and in particular in the sport of Boxing, there is somewhat of an accepted practice that unless one competes in the Heavyweight division, fighters generally will move up through multiple weight classes during the course of their careers. While of course there are those who manage to stay in one weight division for the majority of their careers, there are usually two reasons why a fighter would move up in weight. One is for financial reasons in that there are likely more lucrative opportunities for a fighter at a heavier weight than where they are currently. Perhaps the most obvious reason however, is when a fighter physically outgrows their current weight class.
For two-division world champion Emanuel Navarrete, he has reached the top in both the 122lb. Jr. Featherweight and 126lb. Featherweight divisions. Standing at 5’7, Navarrete is blessed to be in a position where he has natural height and reach advantages over many of his opponents. Navarrete’s first defense of his WBO Featherweight world championship came on April 24th in Kissimmee, FL where he faced WBO number six rated contender Christopher Diaz before a crowd of nearly 3,300 socially distanced spectators in accordance with COVID-19 protocols at the Silver Spurs Arena.
Although it was obvious to this observer that this would be a classic clash of a puncher in Navarrete and a fighter who is more known as a boxer in Diaz, what stood out to me from the outset was the difference in size between the champion and challenger. In this case, Navarrete had a near three inch height advantage and an eight inch reach advantage over Diaz. Taking the statistics of height and reach out of the equation, it appeared to my eyes as though I was watching a fighter in Diaz attempting to complete with an opponent that looked like a full-fledged Lightweight, two weight divisions above the 126lb. Featherweight division.
In terms of the combat that took place between the fighters inside the ring, Diaz was able to put forth a determined effort in an attempt to dethrone the champion. As the fight progressed however, the visible difference between the two fighters began to show itself in the fight, Navarrete would score the first knockdown of the bout in round four. Despite appearing to be at a physical disadvantage as well as one in terms of punching power, Diaz remained very “Game”, but he was unable to keep Navarrete from being able to have the advantage and could not land anything to discourage the champion from coming forward. Navarrete would score two additional knockdowns in round eight and a fourth knockdown in the twelfth and final round before Diaz’ corner stopped the fight in the closing seconds of the bout to prevent their fighter from further punishment.
While no one can take anything away from the effort that Christopher Diaz put forth in this bout, ultimately it was a fight that the champion dominated. Although this was Navarrete’s first defense of the world championship he won in October of last year, this observer believes it might be time for him to focus on challenging for a world championship in a third weight division.
The next division that follows the 126lb. Featherweight division is the 130lb. Jr. Lightweight division. While the Emanuel Navarrete that entered the ring against Christopher Diaz appeared in my eyes to look more like a natural 135lb. Lightweight, it will be interesting to see whether Navarrete will choose to test the waters at Jr. Lightweight first or if he will attempt to go right to the Lightweight division in the near future.
Even though it is not uncommon to see fighters gradually move up in weight over time, it will also be interesting to see if Navarrete, who has a career knockout percentage of 80% in thirty-four career wins will be able to carry the punching power that has made him devastating as a Jr. Featherweight and Featherweight as he moves up the weight scale. The answer to that question will likely as it has for many fighters through the years, be used to determine at what weight division will Navarrete find his ceiling.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
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