Emanuel Navarrete is not trying to read too much into the placement for his next fight.
The three-division and reigning WBO junior lightweight titlist will appear in the co-feature slot of a November 16 ESPN show headlined by the Shakur Stevenson-Edwin De Los Santos vacant WBC lightweight title fight. Navarrete will attempt his second defense of his current reign versus 2016 Olympic Gold medalist and former two-time title challenger Robson Conceicao.
The rampant speculation is that wins by Stevenson (20-0, 10KOs) and Navarrete will lead to a head-on collision in 2024, though the streaking Mexican hasn’t given the matter much thought.
“I don’t know what the expectations are outside of this show,” Navarrete insisted to BoxingScene,com. “I’d like to believe that they placed us on the same show for a reason but I don’t waste too much time thinking about it.
“I just plan to use the opportunity to put on a great performance.”
Navarrete (38-1, 31KOs) has fought exclusively for WBO titles in the 122-, 126- and 130-pound divisions. A potential fight with Stevenson—should he beat De Los Santos—would be his first with a WBC belt at stake, though the attractive matchup is not on his immediate priority list. Not when there is still plenty of hardware to collect in the junior lightweight division.
“I would love to fight Shakur Stevenson one day but my main focus before then is to unify the titles,” noted Navarrete, who won the WBO 130-pound title earlier this year in a ninth-round knockout of Liam Wilson. “I’ve never had the chance to unify at (junior featherweight or featherweight) so I would love the chance to do that at this weight before I move up.”
Meanwhile, Navarrete will enjoy his third fight of a productive 2023 campaign. Six months after the win over Wilson, he earned his biggest win to date—a twelve-round decision over countryman and former two-division titlist Oscar Valdez this past August 12 in Glendale, Arizona.
The upcoming fight versus Brazil’s Conceicao (17-2, 8KOs) will mark his first three-fight campaign since 2020 and a return to the rate of activity which defined his career pre-pandemic. The win over Valdez validated his status as a pound-for-pound level talent, momentum he wants to carry over into the new year—preferably with more titles in tow.
That means fights versus the winner of any of the other divisional title fights in the next few weeks—O’Shaquie Foster-Rocky Hernandez for the WBC belt this weekend, IBF titlist Joe Cordina versus Edward Vasquez next Saturday in Monte Carlo and Hector Garcia’s WBA title defense versus Lamont Roach whenever Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) puts it on the schedule.
“If those fights can’t happen against the other champions at 130, then of course we would want to look into a big fight with Shakur,” admitted Navarrete. “I would love the chance to become a four-division world champion, if he wins (versus De Los Santos).
“But for now, my goal is to unify the 130-pound division.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox