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Navarrete, Magdaleno shine but face different futures

Aug 18, 2019

Steve KimESPN

Los Angeles' Banc of California Stadium is usually a destination for soccer, but it was boxing that took center stage there Saturday.

Current 122-pound world titleholder Emanuel Navarrete notched another dominant victory, and former junior featherweight world titleholder Jessie Magdaleno also won but suffered a nasty cut that is likely to keep him out of action indefinitely.

Bigger and better opportunities await both Navarrete and Magdaleno after their decisive victories. What did we learn from their performances on Saturday?

Is Navarrete the best titleholder at 122 pounds?Emanuel Navarrete, center, defended his junior featherweight title with an impressive performance against Francisco De Vaca on Saturday night. Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Navarrete stated his case once again by stopping Francisco De Vaca in three quick rounds. "El Vaquero" is long, lean and lanky. He is an absolute windmill in the ring. De Vaca hit the deck in the second frame from a three-punch combination and was then overwhelmed by a torrent of leather in the next round.

It was certainly a dominant showing, but De Vaca -- despite his undefeated record coming in (20-0) -- was still a very untested fighter. He came into this contest with just six stoppages to his credit.

Navarrete did what a solid fighter is expected to do in situations like this: dominate the lesser foe and put him away with ease. In that respect, he certainly got the job done.

Navarrete (28-1, 24 KOs) has quickly established himself as one of the elite fighters in this division. He's a fan-friendly fighter who, with his physical dimensions and activity, will be a tough out.

But if you were to crown anyone as the best fighter at 122, that honor belongs to unified world titlist Danny Roman, who owns the WBA and IBF belts.

What's next for Navarrete?Punch statsPunchesNavarreteDe VacaTotal landed9539Total thrown248224Percent38%17%Jabs landed181Jabs thrown7936Percent23%3%Power landed7738Power thrown169188Percent46%20%-- Courtesy of CompuBox

Minutes after Navarrete's victory, Top Rank announced he would be making a quick turnaround. Navarrete will be part of the Tyson Fury-Otto Wallin undercard in Las Vegas on Sept.14.

It's certainly a big stage for Navarrete and an opportunity for him to continue to build his fan base, but he needs the right opponent.

An old warhorse such as former junior featherweight title challenger Cesar Juarez might fit the bill on this stage. He's a recognizable name, and he brings a favorable style to the dance.

However, I think it will have to be someone in the WBO rankings. In the top five are the likes of Marlon Tapales, Juan Miguel Elorde, Albert Pagara, Thomas Patrick Ward and Arnold Khegai.

But keep this in mind: This is an optional defense, not a mandatory, so there is really no pressure on Navarrete and his handlers to take the highest-ranked contender at this moment.

What this Sept. 14 date will represent is an opportunity for Navarrete to continue to build upon his profile.

How will Magdaleno's cuts impact his next fight?Jessie Magdaleno, right, defeated Rafael Rivera but suffered a bad cut over his right eye that will probably keep him out of the ring until next year. Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Magdaleno (27-1, 18 KOs) defeated the durable Rafael Rivera (24-4-2, 18 KOs) in a ninth-round technical decision by scores of 88-82, 89-81 and 89-81.

Though he dominated the action against Rivera, it came at a price, as late in the ninth round, he was struck by a stray elbow from Rivera and was cut over his right eye. That injury led to the fight being called off at 2:55 of the ninth.

So just how long will Magdaleno be out?

With his cut needing time to heal, it most likely won't be until the calendar turns to 2020 that we'll see Magdaleno back in action. But whether he fights again this year or the beginning of next year, it really makes no difference. He is now a featherweight and will soon be in line for a title shot, just not in his next fight.

Can Magdaleno become a titleholder again?

Talent has never been an issue with Magdaleno, but there have been questions about his discipline as a professional fighter. He struggled badly to make weight for his title WBO junior featherweight title defense against Isaac Dogboe in April 2018, and he paid for it dearly as his gas tank ran empty early on in a stoppage loss in Round 11.

However, Magdaleno can give any of the current belt-holders a tough night.

"I miss being a world champion," Magdaleno said at a news conference days before the fight. "But there's no doubt in my mind that I'll be there again."

As for whom he wants specifically, the 27-year-old native of Las Vegas has two opponents in mind.

"I want the WBC [belt]. I want [titleholder] Gary Russell Jr. I'd love to make that fight if I could. Or give me [featherweight world titlist] Leo Santa Cruz, and let's make that fight happen here in L.A."

Currently, Magdaleno is ranked fourth by the WBO and sixth in the WBC, so sooner or later he will be getting that title shot at 126. Perhaps another big victory will solidify his standing in the division.

Elvis was in the building

There were plenty of prospects showcased on this Top Rank card, but nobody stood out and made quite the statement as "The Dominican Kid" Elvis Rodriguez. The prospect improved to 3-0-1 with 3 KOs by demolishing Jesus Gonzalez in less than one round. The power-punching southpaw floored Gonzalez early on with a blistering right hook, and ultimately, the fight was waved off by referee Rudy Barragan after a flurry of punches later in the round.

Yeah, Gonzalez was "an opponent," but in his previous eight fights, he had never been knocked off his feet, much less knocked out. On Saturday, he was absolutely destroyed.

Trainer Freddie Roach, who works with Rodriguez on a daily basis at the Wild Card Boxing Club, calls Rodriguez his best prospect.

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