A highly anticipated world title bout at 130 lb. is now official, as WBO world champ Emanuel Navarrete will defend against former world champ Oscar Valdez in August.
Top Rank Boxing announced the headlining bout for August 12th for Glendale, AZ, on Tuesday afternoon. From their official release:
“Three-division world champion Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete will defend his WBO junior lightweight world title against former two-division world champion Oscar Valdez in an all-Mexican duel Saturday, August 12 at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona. Navarrete and Valdez seek to etch their names among the celebrated catalog of Mexican rivalries that includes Marco Antonio Barrera-Erik Morales, Ruben Olivares-Chucho Castillo and Rafael Marquez-Israel Vazquez.
Navarrete-Valdez will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
“Emanuel Navarrete and Oscar Valdez are proud warriors, and this is a fight that is destined to go down as a classic,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “The fight fans at Desert Diamond Arena and everyone watching on ESPN are in for a real treat. The winner of this fight etches his name among the great Mexican fighters. I can’t wait.”
Navarrete (37-1, 31 KOs), the fighting pride of San Juan Zitlaltepec, captured his first world title by defeating Isaac Dogboe for the WBO junior featherweight crown in December 2018. He made five defenses before moving up to featherweight, where he beat Ruben Villa for the vacant WBO title in October 2020. The 28-year-old defended his belt with victories over Christopher Diaz, Joet Gonzalez and Eduardo Baez before moving up to 130 pounds. In February, Navarrete joined an elite list of Mexican three-division champions — including Morales, Barrera and Julio Cesar Chavez — by defeating Liam Wilson via ninth-round TKO for the WBO junior lightweight world title.
Navarrete said, “After so much time, this fight will finally take place. Obviously, I am 100 percent motivated because Valdez is still a big threat, and a fight against him could possibly be the start of a new Mexico vs. Mexico rivalry like the one between Barrera and Morales.”
Valdez (31-1, 23 KOs), from Nogales, represented Mexico at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. As a pro, he captured the WBO featherweight world title against Matias Rueda in 2016 and made six successful defenses. He moved up to junior lightweight and defeated Adam Lopez in 2019 and Jayson Velez in 2020 before taking on his toughest challenge, a WBC title tilt against Miguel Berchelt in February 2021.
Despite disadvantages in height, reach and power, Valdez counterpunched his way to three crushing knockdowns, the last of which earned him a 10th-round KO. After a competitive fight against Olympic gold medalist Robson Conceição later that year, Valdez suffered his first defeat in a title unification battle against Shakur Stevenson in April 2022. He bounced back by defeating Lopez in a rematch in the co-feature to the Devin Haney-Vasiliy Lomachenko super fight last month, and he now hopes to equal Navarrete as a three-time world champion.
Valdez said, “I’m excited to return to the ring, especially because it’s for a world title against ‘Vaquero’ Navarrete. Being a world champion is something that I always dreamed of. I already did it two times, and this is yet another opportunity. So, I’m excited and prepared both mentally and physically for this new opportunity. And I like that it’s between two Mexicans because it’s a win-win for Mexico. It’s a guaranteed war when there are two Mexicans in the ring.”