March 2, 2021

Navarrete, Villa Near Deal For WBO Featherweight Title Fight In October

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This time, Emanuel Navarrete’s team was able to present an offer his potential next opponent couldn’t refuse. has learned that a vacant featherweight title fight between Navarrete and Ruben Villa has advanced in talks with the two sides close to finalizing terms. The news comes at the tail end of a negotiation period assigned by the World Boxing Organization (WBO), who alerted both camps to wrap up talks by this weekend to avoid a purse bid hearing.

According to sources, there remain finer points to be discussed between both sides but is far enough along to where a purse bid will not be necessary. A formal offer is expected to be submitted by Top Rank—Navarrete’s co-promoter along with Zanfer Promotions—to Villa’s co-promoters Banner Promotions and Thompson Boxing.

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ESPN reported a potential fight date of October 10, although the current schedule calls for a Friday show on that week (October 9) from Las Vegas. Efforts by this scribe to seek confirmation went unreturned from all parties involved. If the date holds true, a potential undercard slot could include Joseph Adorno, an unbeaten lightweight prospect from Allentown, Pennsylvania who is rumored to be in talks for an all-PA showdown with Philadelphia’s Avery Sparrow.

Navarrete (32-1, 28KOs) has remained first in line for a shot at the vacant WBO featherweight title since the release of the July rankings by the sanctioning body, placing the former 122-pound titlist in the top spot. A previously ordered fight had Navarrete in talks with fellow former WBO junior featherweight title claimant Jessie Magdaleno, eventually going to a purse bid with Top Rank securing the rights to the fight as the lone bidder.

The $250,000 offering would have left Magdaleno (28-1, 18KOs) with just a $100,000 payday, as plans for an October 24 fight in his Las Vegas hometown would have produced a 60/40 purse split in favor of Navarrete. It ultimately proved to be a dealbreaker, with Magdaleno and his team informing Top Rank that they were declining the opportunity.

From there came the order from the WBO for Navarrete to face the next highest-rated available challenger in line which is Villa. The unbeaten product from Salinas, California should have been first in line all along, as he was behind only Belfast’s Michael Conlan prior to the start of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

It worked out in the end, as Villa and his immediate team have accepted the offer made to them by Top Rank, according to sources.

Villa last fought in a 10-round win over Alexei Collado this past January.

Navarrete moved up to featherweight following a breakneck schedule as a defending 122-pound titlist. Five successful defenses came of a title reign which began with a 12-round win over Isaac Dogboe in December 2018. Navarrete stopped Dogboe in the 12th round of their rematch last May, from there fighting an average of every 2 ½ months all the way through this past February before opting to campaign in the 126-pound division.

Shortly after a 6th round stoppage of countryman Uriel Lopez this past June came two title vacancies. Navarrete abandoned his WBO 122-pound title reign in exchange for a title shot at featherweight, vying for the belt vacated by Shakur Stevenson (14-0, 8KOs), the former 126-pound titlist now campaigning at junior lightweight.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox