Emanuel Navarrete defeated Ruben Villa by unanimous decision to win the vacant WBO featherweight title Friday night at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. Navarrete, a former junior featherweight world titlist, was able to win the fight on the strength of two knockdowns -- in the first and fourth rounds -- by the scores of 114-112, 114-112 and 115-111.
Navarrete (33-1, 28 KOs) had a decided edge in strength and power. And while the southpaw Villa (18-1, 5 KOs) was effective in spots by moving around the ring, the difference in punching prowess was obvious. At the end of the fight, Navarrete had outlanded Villa 131-58 in power punches.
Navarrete clipped Villa with a long left uppercut that sent him down for the first time at the end of the first round. To his credit, Villa got up and was effective in the next two rounds, but in the fourth another long, lashing left hand from Navarrete sent Villa down for the second time. Without these two knockdowns, this bout would've been a majority draw.
Navarrete is not a classic stylist, or the most fundamentally sound fighter you'll see. He often makes fundamental errors, but he more than makes up for it with his relentlessness and activity. At times he simply swarms his opponents to a point where they get overwhelmed. Villa was the more sound boxer, but he lacked the pop to truly get Navarrete's respect or ever hurt him.
"I knew that Villa was a fighter that moved a lot and I knew that he was going to move even more once he felt my power," Navarrete said after the fight. "I didn't get the knockout, but I got the victory."
Villa had some good moments in the second half of the fight where he boxed effectively, but he didn't do enough to turn the tide of this contest.
"I'm very happy with this championship. It's a reflection of all the sacrifices and all the hard work I put in," Navarrete said. "I conquered my second weight class because of all that hard work.
"I have my sights set on all the world champions at 126. I would love to face [Josh] Warrington. I think that our styles will make for a great fight."