Ruben Villa v Emanuel Navarrete
Emanuel Navarrete has long been seen as a star in the making by Top Rank. On Friday (10 p.m. ET, ESPN) at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas, he’ll get his best chance to prove that.
He’ll meet unbeaten Ruben Villa (18-0, 5 KOs) for the WBO featherweight title in a bid to be a two-weight world champion.
Navarrete (31-1, 27 KOs) upset Isaac Dogboe on Dec. 8, 2018, to win the WBO super bantamweight title and then made five defenses in the next 14 months.
He took a non-title bout against Uriel Lopez in June and stopped him in the sixth round, setting himself up for the bout with Villa on Friday.
At 5-7, Navarrete was tall with great length for 122 pounds, but making weight was becoming a problem.
“My body is doing a lot better,” he said. “I'm growing a little bit more. It was getting a little bit difficult making 122, but now going up to 126, I think I'm more prepared for that.
“For now, we’re pretty much ready. We’re ready for this weight. We're ready for this fight on Friday night, so I think we’re ready to go with what we have. After this fight, we're going to keep moving forward.”
Navarrete said the coronavirus pandemic didn’t interfere much with his preparations.
“My team has done a great job,” he said. “We’ve worked through it and we’re ready for this match.”
This is a big step-up for Villa, who has to find a way to blunt Navarrete’s aggressiveness. Navarrete is a big puncher and if he can get off a high volume of shots, it’s going to be a problem for Villa.
Villa knows he’ll have to create angles, use his legs and disrupt Navarette’s rhythm.
“My last couple of fights, they’ve been aggressive guys who come to beat me and think they’re going to get me off my game plan,” he said. “But I adapted well. We always had good game plans and stuck to game plans, and now we’re here fighting for a world title. I feel like I'm ready. I feel like he’s beatable, and my style is the one to do it.
“He’s an aggressive guy who throws 100 punches a round. I feel like it’s just going to bring the best out of me to do my job as well as I can.”
Villa said his confidence has blossomed as he’s won those last several fights.
“I want to see the best Ruben Villa, but I haven’t even seen him yet,” Villa said. “I feel like Navarrete will bring it out of me. I’m just excited to perform and, like I said, show you guys what I got. I feel like I’ve been slept on. Maybe a lot of people think I don’t belong here, but I’m going to show everyone I'm an elite 126-pound fighter. Yeah, I’m coming to win and coming to fight.”
Per BetMGM, Villa is currently +165 with Navarrete a -200 favorite.
Do not let success go to your head and do not let failure get to your heart.