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Champions and stars are back this weekend, but fights for Emanuel Navarrete and Mikey Garcia are missing something


Because the boxing world strikes on from Tyson Fury’s unbelievable victory over Deontay Wilder, this weekend affords a lot of strong fights that embrace the return of a few of the sport’s larger names.

Struggle evening options the second title protection for WBO featherweight champion Emanuel Navarrete. His opponent Friday in San Diego is Joet Gonzalez (24-1, 14 KOs), who in 2018 took Shakur Stevenson the space and in 2020 defeated former title contender Miguel Marriaga with a dominant efficiency.

Navarrete (34-1, 29 KOs) gained a junior featherweight world title towards Isaac Dogboe in 2018 and made 5 defenses earlier than transferring as much as the 126-pound division. He gained the then-vacant featherweight title towards Ruben Villa a yr in the past, and he defended it with a Twelfth-round TKO victory over Christopher Diaz in April.

So, how huge of a problem is Gonzalez to a Navarrete, who hasn’t misplaced a battle in additional than 9 years?

On Saturday in Fresno, California, tremendous middleweight prospect Diego Pacheco returns to the ring for his third battle of 2021 to face Lucas de Abreu, an unbeaten orthodox fighter from Brazil. Abreu has 11 KOs in 12 fights, however the focus is on the 20-year-old Pacheco towards this strain fighter.

Additionally on Saturday, former four-division champion Mikey Garcia will battle for the primary time in virtually 18 months — a 10-round welterweight battle towards Sandro Martin.

Garcia (40-1, 30 KOs), has fought solely twice since his March 2019 choice loss to Errol Spence Jr. He additionally has a choice victory over Jessie Vargas in February 2020. Martin (38-2, 13 KOs), is making his first look in america after preventing most of his profession in his native Spain.

Our panel of Timothy Bradley Jr., Mike Coppinger, Mike Rothstein and Ben Child take a look at these fights and another must-see bouts this weekend.

What’s Emanuel Navarrete’s ceiling as a high fighter?

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Emanuel Navarrete reveals off his prowess by flattening Christopher Diaz a number of instances en path to his twenty ninth knockout win.

Coppinger: Navarrete is a gifted fighter, a boxer who generates large leverage on his punches with distinctive peak for a 126-pounder at 5-foot-7.

The 26-year-old throws pictures from awkward angles and with dangerous intentions, too. Most of all, maybe, Navarrete unloads with unbelievable quantity even after transferring up from 122 kilos. In his featherweight debut — a title battle — he threw almost 700 punches. His first protection was a profitable one, a knockout of Christopher Diaz. He threw 744 punches in that bout.

He’s additionally nonetheless bettering. There stays some promising challenges for Navarrete at 126 kilos, particularly Gary Russell Jr., however the true exams will come at 130 kilos, and that is the place we determine to seek out out simply how good he’s. Even in his third weight class, he’ll nonetheless be one of many larger fighters within the division. How concerning the winner of subsequent week’s title battle between Jamel Herring and Shakur Stevenson? Or bouts with Miguel Berchelt and Chris Colbert?

Navarrete could also be uncooked, however the mix of quantity punching, awkward angles and measurement has proved an excessive amount of thus far.


Is Joet Gonzalez a reputable title challenger for Emanuel Navarrete?

Child: No. The intrigue surrounding Gonzalez since he re-signed with Golden Boy Promotions in 2019 has not produced something substantial. To this point, Gonzalez’s finest victory is a knockout win over Manuel Avila in 2019.

However apart from that, Gonzalez has but to point out he is worthy of a real title shot. He was simply trounced by Shakur Stevenson in 2019, his lone title battle. Gonzalez additionally has no victories over any of the featherweights presently in ESPN’s top-10 rating regardless of persistently preventing within the division since 2015. It makes little sense for Navarrete, too, since he has few high-profile opponents on his ledger. There are a number of different names who will increase his profile and recognition round boxing. Maybe Mauricio Lara, who made his identify with a giant upset win over Josh Warrington in February. Each Lara and Navarrete hail from Mexico.

Navarrete is an thrilling fighter who ought to be matched towards harder opposition. At 26 and as a present champion, he is previous the purpose in his profession the place he ought to be taking up the likes of Joet Gonzalez.


​​What do it’s good to see from unbeaten Diego Pacheco to anoint him a challenger at 168 kilos?

Bradley: He is nonetheless younger at 20 years previous and also you needn’t transfer him shortly. I can see his expertise. He has what I name crucial punch in boxing: the jab. He has a extremely good jab, and if he continues to make use of it, alongside together with his attain to arrange his offense, he’ll beat a whole lot of guys. He must preserve engaged on his jab, get extra selection, throw it to the pinnacle and to the physique, simply give it totally different seems and alter the place he throws it from.

His rhythm is superb — he flows, he is easy — however he wants to change his rhythm, throw totally different combos. He has a ravishing uppercut, a proper uppercut he throws on the within. He must get extra power. As a result of he is 20 years previous, and even at 6-foot-4, he hasn’t reached his high power but.

I actually need to see how he offers when he fights somebody artful on the within. I want to see him management the middle of the ring towards Lucas de Abreu, and I need to see his physique work. But when he controls the ring and works the physique, throws his proper hand to the liver, simply utilizing a distinct approach of touchdown to the physique — if he can work out how one can land extra physique punches and put that in his arsenal — that may positively step up his recreation. Typically he throws that proper hand from too shut, but when he throws it from a distance, from the skin, it should have extra impact and he will not be there for the counter.

For this battle towards a puncher like de Abreu, I need to see him use his protection, take his time, do not make any errors and hit the physique and take some steam from the opponent’s punches.


What’s Mikey Garcia actually doing? Why is he preventing Sandor Martinez?

Rothstein: Actually, I am unsure. Garcia hasn’t fought since a unanimous choice win over Jessie Vargas final February and now he is preventing an opponent in Sandor Martin, who has a formidable file (38-2, 13 KOs) however whose competitors has been lower than stellar. Perhaps that is sort of a warm-up battle for him since he is had such an extended layoff? That is one of many few causes this might make sense.

If you take a look at his opponents in his previous 5 fights, courting again to 2017, it is a fairly gifted listing — Adrien Broner, Sergey Lipinets, Robert Easter Jr., Errol Spence Jr. and Vargas. He misplaced simply a kind of fights (Spence), however all got here by choice. If Garcia is treating this as a tuneup to then change into extra energetic, it is sensible as a battle.

In any other case, it looks like virtually a no-win state of affairs for Garcia. Win and also you’re utterly anticipated to; lose and there is a lot to surprise about. Martin, in the meantime, may achieve a large increase to his profession. Odd battle.


Ought to Mairis Briedis observe Oleksandr Usyk’s path and transfer as much as heavyweight?

Coppinger: Unquestionably that is the plan for Brieidis, who mentioned months in the past on social media that he would transfer as much as heavyweight quickly. As a substitute, on this battle, he’ll keep busy towards a no-hope opponent, Artur Mann. In actuality, it would not matter whom he faces at cruiserweight; there aren’t any compelling matchups.

As a cruiserweight champion — and somebody who gave Usyk by far the hardest problem of his profession — Briedis would instantly be put in as a participant at heavyweight.

He is had a couple of fights within the limitless weight class, most notably a brutal fifth-round KO of Manuel Charr in 2015. For that battle, he weighed slightly below 214 kilos. At 6-foot-1, he could be vastly undersized for the division.

However in a majority-decision loss to Usyk in 2018, Briedis proved he may need the talents to beat shortcomings in different areas. There’s nothing left to perform at cruiserweight. If nothing else, it is time for the 36-year-old to earn some heavyweight purses.



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