Emanuel Navarrete defended his WBO featherweight title with an action-packed 12th round TKO over Chris Diaz during Top Rank's main event Saturday night.
Known for his awkward and relentless style, Mexico's Navarrete (34-1, 29 KOs) knocked Diaz down four times -- but it was the final one with just seconds remaining in the 12th round that was the finisher.
Puerto Rico's Diaz (26-3, 16 KOs) was a very game opponent, particularly as he laid it all out going for a knockout in round 12, but ultimately Navarrete's power was too much as he dropped Diaz with a combination. Diaz appeared to beat the count with about 15 seconds left in the fight but his corner and the referee stopped the bout as it was clear he was hurt.
Navarrete consistently landed his go-to leap uppercut, but his best weapon Saturday night was a barrage of power hooks that landed in combination leaving Diaz moving backward.
Navarrete landed 257 of 744 punches (34.5%) and an eye-opening 241 of those landed were power punches.
It was Navarrete's second title defense. Attention now turns to whether he will remain at featherweight or move up to junior lightweight division where there are several contenders in Top Rank's stable that could make great fights, including rising star Shakur Stevenson.
The bout was held in front of 3,262 socially distanced fans at sold-out Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Florida. It was Top Rank's second boxing card in front of fans since the pandemic began.
Super middleweight prospect and knockout artist Edgar Berlanga fought past the first round for the first time in his 17-fight pro career in Saturday night's co-feature. He turned in an easy unaninimous decision victory over Demond Nicholson in a bout where he landed four knockdowns, including the most impressive one in the final seconds of the final round.