By Steve Kim Updated on August 14, 2023

The Demolition Man

Picture for The Demolition Man

He isn't perfect technically, he's far from the most fundamentally sound boxer you'll ever see, and it isn't always graceful, or even that pretty, but it's time to say it -- Emanuel Navarrete is one of the best fighters in the world today. 

'el Vacquero' hammered home that point again this past Saturday night at the Desert Diamond Arena by defeating Oscar Valdez, to retain his WBO junior featherweight title. 

By the end of the bout, Valdez's grotesquesly swollen eye was visual proof that there is a price to pay for facing boxing's 'Demolition Man'. When you face him, you don't get a boxing lesson -- you just get beat up. 

Picture for The Demolition ManMikey Williams/Top Rank

What was supposed to be another chapter in the storied history of Mexican boxing, was actually a very entertaining scrap. One that had some memorable moments (particularly round 10), but it was Navarette (38-1, 31 KOs) who just simply overwhelmed the game Valdez with a two-fisted attack. At the end of 12 spirited rounds, the scores read: 119-109, 118-110 and 116-112 for the defending champion. 

Navarrete said, “I feel happy to have been part of this card and of this next great chapter of Mexican boxing history. I am happy and appreciate Oscar for the great fight that we delivered.

No, it wasn't Marco Antonio Barrera-Erik Morales (who were on site as part of the Top Rank festivities throughout fight week), but it was the type of performance that left you believing that Navarrete should start being thought off as one of the better Mexican fighters of recent memory.

Navarrete Outslugs & Outlast Valdez to Retain Title In Instant Classic | FIGHT HIGHLIGHTS


Just look at his resume', not only is Navarette a three-division champion (having won titles at 122, 126 and 130), he has victories over the likes of Isaac Dogboe (twice), Ruben Villa, Christopher Diaz, Joet Gonzalez, and now the highly accomplished Valdez.  He has not lost a professional contest in over a decade. His last defeat came in his sixth pro outing in 2012 in a four rounder. 

Picture for The Demolition ManMikey Williams/Top Rank

And as you take a look at the landscape of junior lightweight, ask yourself this, would you favor the likes of Joe Cordina, Hector Luis Garcia or O'Shaquie Foster over him? Coming into this fight, Valdez was rated number one in the division by Ring Magazine.

More than a few pundits (this one included) believed that Valdez would come out victorious based on recent form. It was back in February that Navarette hit the deck versus the unheralded, Liam Wilson, needing a long count to help him rally to a 9th round stoppage victory. And prior to that, he struggled early on versus Eduardo Baez before ending things abruptly in the sixth with a left hook to the body.

It wasn't too long ago that Navarette was one of the most active world-class fighters in the sport, but that activity had come to a crawl recently, and there was questions about his discipline to the craft. There was evidence that this free-swinging Mexican was a boxer on the descent.

Well, as Valdez found out, the rumors of his demise were greatly exaggerated.

“I think the people can best talk about what they saw. They saw the fight tonight. I was here fighting with Valdez. And I feel good. Thank God, I won. I appreciate what he did in the ring. He is a Mexican warrior. If the people want a rematch, they will demand it," said the victorious, Navarrete. 

Picture for The Demolition ManMikey Williams/Top Rank

And it's one thing to see all his flaws from outside, it's whole 'nother thing to be able to exploit them as you are in front of him. Navarette looks easy to beat, but he's anything but. As Valdez found out as he was consistently struck with various uppercuts, hooks, jabs and uppercuts. Yes, there were times that he looked off balance, and clumsy but he seems to come in waves with his long limbs. No, he'll never be Baryshnikov in that boxing ring, in fact, at times, he looks like he has two left feet. 

Yet time and time again, all he does is find ways to consistently stamp leather from all angles on his foes. That alone is perhaps his most vital skill. 

As for Valdez, he certainly had some moments but too many times he was left swinging and missing with his wide overhand rights, and just a bit off the mark with his leaping left hooks over the top. There didn't seem to be nearly enough body work to slow down the steady charge of Navarette. Valdez never landed that big shot he needed to truly turn the momentum of this battle.

Valdez, who's only other loss came against Shakur Stevenson, gave a valiant effort that should be applauded. He is the latest to find out that beating Navarette is easier said than done. 

“He is a warrior," he stated. "I tried my best. We gave it our best. He is a warrior. He is a true champion. I’m sorry I disappointed everyone. I feel terrible. I wanted to give you all a great fight. I hope you enjoyed the fight. I hope to return strong.”



Emmanuel Rodriguez became a two-time bantamweight champion as he decisively beat Melvin Lopez over 12 rounds to win the vacant IBF belt....In a bit of a shocker. Travon Marshall was knocked out early by Gabriel Maestre in two... Emiliano Vargas shows a ton of star potential...Had a great time in Tempe/Phoenix this past weekend...Can't lie, I'm enjoying the NFL pre-season football....Really enjoyed the Johnny Manziel documentary on Netflix....I can be reached at




About Author
The Demolition Man
  • Hosted 'the Main Event' on KIEV 870, and then later XTRA AM1150 ( a three hour show devoted to boxing) from 1996 to 1999.
  • Joined one of the first boxing websites, 'House of Boxing' in 1999, and then later became one of the founders of Maxboxing, that started in 2001, till his departure in 2014.
  • From 2014 to 2018, he was the lead columnist for
  • Was a boxing reporter for from 2018 to 2020.
  • He has written for Ring Magazine, International Boxing Digest and Boxing News.
  • Is the co-host of 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' with Mario Lopez, which has become of the most popular boxing podcasts the past several years.
  • Steve has also served as an announcer and analyst for RingTV, Thompson Boxing, 360 Promotions and CBS Sports Network.