By: Hans Themistode
For most of Emanuel Navarrete’s three-year featherweight title reign, he made quick work of his opposition. With seven stoppage wins in his past eight fights, and two knockdowns against Ruben Villa, the lone fighter who went the full 12 round distance with Navarrete, the Mexican star was forced to bite down on his mouthpiece for the first time in several years.
At the Pechanga Arena in San Diego, this past Friday night, Navarrete took on former title challenger Joet Gonzalez.
Things didn’t start the way Gonzalez had been hoping for. A cut under his right eye which was ruled to have been caused by a legal punch in the second round left him bloodied. Despite the unfortunate start, Gonzalez pushed ahead and landed several hard shots on his man.
The two continued the back and forth action throughout much of the first half of their contest but it was Navarrete who appeared to have a bit more in the gas tank. In the 12th and final round, determined to retain his world title, Navarrete attempted to close the show by throwing a fight-high 104 punches. Gonzalez, on the other hand, didn’t back down from the high volume of Navarrete. The two-time title challenger threw 79 punches of his own.
In the end, the high work rate of Navarrete allowed him to prolong his title reign. But, seeing how close their showdown ultimately was, Navarrete is more than willing to give Gonzalez another chance.
“It was a very close fight but I think the difference between us was conditioning,” Navarrete said in his post-fight interview. “I hurt him, but every single time he came back. He also hurt me with a couple of shots that he landed during the fight. Without a doubt, I would give Gonzalez a rematch.”