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Boxing Preview: Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete (36-1-0, 30 KO’s) vs Liam Wilson (11-1-0, 7 KO’s)

Navarrete-Wilson, Jose Pedraza-Arnold Barboza Jr. junior welterweight co-feature and heavyweight Olympic silver medalist Richard Torrez Jr. headline Friday fight night LIVE from Glendale, Arizona.

Undefeated stars Nico Ali Walsh and Emiliano Fernando Vargas will see action on the ESPN+-streamed undercard.

A new junior lightweight king will be crowned in the desert.

Mexican star Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete and Australian contender Liam Wilson will fight for the vacant WBO junior lightweight world title Friday, Feb. 3, at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona. Navarrete, the reigning WBO featherweight world champion, hopes to become the 10th Mexican-born boxer to win world titles in three weight divisions.

Date: Friday, February 3
Main card: 9 p.m. ET / 2 a.m. GMT
Main event ringwalks (approx): 12 a.m. ET / 5 a.m. GMT
Viewers in the United States can watch the fight live on ESPN+.
Viewers in the United Kingdom can watch on Sky Sports.
The fight will take place at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona, United States.
The main card is set to get underway at 9 p.m. ET / 2 a.m. GMT with the main event ringwalks scheduled for 12 a.m. ET / 5 a.m. GMT. These timings could change due to the length of the undercard fights.

Junior welterweight contenders collide in the 10-round co-feature as Arnold Barboza Jr. hopes to earn a career-best victory against Jose “Sniper” Pedraza, a former two-weight world champion from Cidra, Puerto Rico.

Navarrete-Wilson, Pedraza-Barboza, and the return of U.S. Olympic silver medalist Richard Torrez Jr. in a six-round heavyweight special feature will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10 p.m. EST/7 p.m. PST.

Navarrete (36-1, 30 KOs), from San Juan Zitlaltepec, Mexico, won the WBO junior featherweight crown from Isaac Dogboe in December 2018 and made five defenses of that title in a nine-month span. He out-hustled Ruben Villa to win the vacant WBO featherweight strap in October 2020 and has since defended that title three times. Navarrete is one of the sport’s premier offensive fighters, an aggressor who wings punches from all angles. In his October 2021 title defense over Joet Gonzalez, he threw 979 punches over 12 rounds, including 104 in the 12th round. He returned to the ring in August, rebounding from a slow start to knock out countryman Eduardo Baez with a body shot in the sixth round. The Baez victory marked Navarrete’s 31st consecutive victory dating back to 2012.

“This is my opportunity to become a three-division world champion. I am going for that crown,” Navarrete said. “Liam Wilson is a good fighter, but this is my moment, and everyone will see a much more complete ‘Vaquero’ Navarrete that has a lot of thirst for victory. My ideal weight is 130 pounds, and that will be demonstrated on February 3rd when I become world champion for Mexico and San Juan Zitlaltepec. Wilson will not get in the way of my dream.”

Wilson (11-1, 7 KOs), from Caboolture, Australia, is the WBO No. 3 junior contender. He has never fought away from his home country, but he will take the nearly 8,000-mile journey hoping to spring a major upset. Wilson stepped up to fight Navarrete after Oscar Valdez suffered a training injury and enters the fight with momentum on his side. After a stunning fifth-round TKO loss to Filipino contender Joe Noynay in July 2021, Wilson gained revenge in March with a second-round knockout courtesy of his “left hook from hell.” He kept the momentum going in June with a 10-round unanimous decision over former world title challenger Matias Rueda.

Wilson said, “He’s a champion, a warrior, and a household name around the world, but now it’s my time. I’m coming to upset the parade. I’ve waited my entire life for this moment, and I won’t let it slip because it means more to me. I swore an oath to my father on his deathbed that I would one day win a world title for him. I’m looking forward to fulfilling this promise on February 3rd.”

Barboza (27-0, 10 KOs), from South El Monte, California, is ranked in the top 10 by the WBC and WBO. The longtime contender turned pro in 2013 and has steadily climbed up the rankings with victories over Mike Alvarado, Alex Saucedo, and Antonio Moran. In July, Barboza returned from an 11-month layoff to snatch the ‘0’ from Danielito Zorrilla in a crowd-pleasing 10-round main event.

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