Posted on 02/03/2023
By: Sean Crose
The vacant WBO world junior lightweight title will be on the line tonight as Emmanuel Navarrete takes on Liam Wilson at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona. The 36-1 Navarrete is looking to win his third title in three weight classes while the 11-1 Wilson is looking to shock the world. This is certainly the opportunity of a lifetime for the Australian fighter. Navarrete was supposed to face Oscar Valdez this evening, but a Valdez injury kept that fight from happening. Wilson then found opportunity knocking at his door. With that being said, there’s been some drama afoot in the leadup to the opening bell on Friday night.
Team Wilson was suspicious that the scales were rigged at Thursday’s weigh in. “It all lines up for him,” Wilson said to ABC sports, “not making weight and they’ve obviously tampered with the scales and made him make weight.” Add all this to the fact that this will be Wilson’s first bout outside his homeland and it’s understandable that tension levels are high. The man will have to be his best in the ring, however, as Navarrete, whose only loss occurred over ten years ago, knows how to bring the heat. What’s more, only six of his 36 victories haven’t ended before the final bell.
Wilson claims that the incident with the scale (where he weighted in quite light and Navarrete just made weight) shows that his opponent hasn’t been taking him as seriously as he should. “What I take from it is,” says Wilson, “he’s either overlooked me, or he hasn’t prepared like a true champion.” One thing is certain, it’s Navarrete who is expected to win on Friday. In truth, the determined Wilson may be widely seen as a last minute replacement, nothing more. Of course, it’s up to Wilson to prove the naysayers wrong. If he can.
Navarrete was last in the ring back in August, when he dusted Eduardo Baez with a body blow. Wilson, on the other hand, was last spotted two months earlier, when he decisioned Adrian Rueda in June. Should Navarrete win as he’s expected to this evening, he can most likely look forward to finally sharing the ring with Valdez. Should Wilson pull of the upset – he’ll be the toast of the fight game. It’s worth noting that Navarrete was himself an underdog fighting for the first time outside his homeland when he bested Isaac Dogboe in 2018.