Emanuel Navarrete scored another stoppage as he defended his WBO featherweight title against Christopher Diaz by TKO in round 12.
Emanuel Navarrete came into his April 24 featherweight matchup with Christopher Diaz, saying that he worked to become a better defensive boxer. His defense looked about the same, and his electric offense also remained.
Navarrete (33-1, 28 KOs) entered his bout with Diaz as the defending WBO featherweight champion. He won the vacant title in October by outpointing Ruben Villa. He made his first defense against Diaz at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Florida.
Diaz (26-2, 16 KOs) was a substantial underdog, but the Puerto Rican fighter came in with only two career losses and had never been stopped. He challenged for a world title once before in 2018 against Masayuki Ito for the WBO super featherweight title but lost by unanimous decision. Diaz showed tremendous heart but couldn’t withstand the accumulation of Navarrete’s punches.
Diaz moved and boxed in round 1 as Navarrete anticipated. Navarrete came forward for almost the entire round and scored well to win the round, but Diaz wasn’t an easy target to hit.
Diaz started round 2 well with a straight right to Navarrete’s head. Navarrete was uncharacteristically on his back foot for part of the round. Diaz was the busier fighter as he established his jab. Navarrete looked a little lost at times due to Diaz’s output and counter punching.
Navarrete looked much better in round 3. He rocked Diaz with a right hook to the head with two minutes left in the round. His confidence grew, as did his accuracy.
Round 4 was more tactical. Navarrete took the round off, and Diaz rebounded a bit with jabs to Navarrete’s body, but things changed with 40 seconds left in the round.
Navarrete clocked Diaz with a left lead uppercut that Diaz didn’t see coming. Diaz hit the floor but got up and finished the round looking solid on his feet.
Diaz recovered well in round 5 and tried to wing his right cross, but they mostly missed. Navarrete was more economical and started to hook to Diaz’s body. They traded down the stretch, and Diaz didn’t back down.
Emanuel Navarrete wore Christopher Diaz down with power punches to earn the round 12 TKO
Diaz caught fire in round 6. He backed up Navarrete for much of the round and scored to the body. Navarrete looked out of sorts fighting on his backfoot and dropped a round to the challenger.
Diaz came out like a pitbull in round 7. The heavily Puerto Rican crowd cheered on Diaz as he continued to push Navarrete back with power punches. Just as Diaz was putting something together, he hit Navarrete in the back, and the referee deducted a point. Diaz came on even stronger to try and get the point back. Navarrete returned fire, but Diaz took his shots well.
With a little more than a minute remaining in round 8, Navarrete exploded with a combination that ended with a left hook that dropped Diaz. Diaz looked hurt on one knee but got up where he continued to eat more punches. Navarrete put him down again with a left uppercut to the body, but Diaz again rose to last the round.
Diaz danced to start round 9 and ran for most of the round to safety. Navarrete took much of round 10 off as he knew he was far ahead on the scorecards.
Diaz was busy to start round 11 and kept punching. He showed a lot of heart but couldn’t last through round 12.
Round 12 was a slugfest. Diaz went for broke and landed several right hooks to Navarrete’s head. Navarrete never looked hurt but was pinned on the ropes. With less than 50 seconds remaining, Navarrete hurt Diaz with a flurry of punches, and Diaz went down from a right hook. He got back up, but his legs were shot. Diaz’s corner stepped in and stopped the fight.
Diaz deserves a ton of credit for his persistence and toughness, but Navarrete’s power is on a different level. He might be the hardest punching featherweight in the world which is why he is a world champion.
Navarrete holds on to his WBO belt, and the 26-year-old from Mexico might be the most feared boxer in the division after his performance against Diaz.