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WBO Title-holder Emanuel Navarrete Defends at Banc of California Stadium

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  • WBO Title-holder Emanuel Navarrete Defends at Banc of California Stadium

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    By David A. Avila

    LOS ANGELES-World champions are gathering at a busy street corner of Los Angeles that has been the site of numerous heroic, villainous and emotional moments in the history of the second largest city in the USA.

    Two full scale riots erupted and flamed out on that corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Figueroa Avenue in the 60s and 90s.

    A presidential debate took place between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon on those same grounds when they were running in 1960.

    NBA superstars Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and Michael Jordan performed their magic on that corner too.

    On Saturday, WBO super bantamweight titlist Emanuel Navarrete (27-1, 23 KOs) defends against Arizona’s Francisco De Vaca (20-0, 5 KOs) in the main event at the sparkling new Banc of California Stadium. ESPN will show the Top Rank fight card.

    The stadium stands on the same location where the LA Memorial Sports Arena once stood proudly until it fell into disarray and was torn down several years back.

    Sixty years ago the first world championship boxing match was held on these same grounds and fans saw France’s Alphonse Halimi lose to Mexico’s Jose Becerra by fifth round knockout at the LA Memorial Sports Arena. Seven months later they fought again next door at the LA Coliseum and Becerra won by knockout again.

    That was only the beginning and others like Muhammad Ali, Archie Moore, Sugar Ray Robinson, Bobby Chacon, Jerry Quarry, Danny “Lil Red” Lopez, Ruben Olivares, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and Amir Khan fought on those same grounds.

    Imagine, when Navarrete pictured) rises from his corner to fight Phoenix’s De Vaca on Saturday, he will be continuing the ever-growing streak of civil and professional fights that took place on that same historic street corner.

    WBO Super Bantamweight Title

    Navarrete erupted on the fight scene like ghost when he first defeated Isaac Dogboe last December at Madison Square Garden. It was supposed to be a Broadway opening for Dogboe but instead turned into a horror story as those long arms of the Mexican fighter proved perplexing. The rematch was even more horrific for Dogboe.

    Now the Mexico City fighter meets little known challenger De Vaca who comes from an area that has recently been developing boxing talent in the desert city of Phoenix.

    “The truth is that it doesn't matter who is my opponent. I always prepare 100 percent for each of my fights, and this was no exception,” said Navarrete, 24, who is making his second defense of the WBO title. “We already did the hard work in the gym, and we are ready for a great fight. If De Vaca comes to fight hard, I am prepared to go even harder. I'm ready to give a great battle to all the fans."

    Can De Vaca do what Navarrete did to Dogboe last year?

    “I wanted to fight for a world title since I was 5 years old, and now that we have the opportunity, we are going to make our dream come true this Saturday,” said De Vaca, 24, who fought once in Southern California back in 2016. “Come Saturday, there will be a new world champ for Phoenix and Michoacán. I’m coming for that world title."

    Co-Main

    Former super bantamweight titlist Jessie Magdaleno (26-1, 18 KOs) meets Rafael Rivera (27-3-2, 18 KOs) in a featherweight match set for 10 rounds. After struggling to make the 122-pound super bantamweight limit, the Las Vegas southpaw now fights at 126 pounds. It’s made a difference.

    “He’s a totally different person at 126 pounds,” said Frank Espinoza who manages Magdaleno. “Even the way he talks and thinks is different. Who would have thought four pounds would make such a difference.”

    Magdaleno, the former WBO super bantamweight titlist, now meets Tijuana’s Rivera who never fails to provide high intensity fisticuffs.

    “I don’t take none of these guys lightly. Every opponent is difficult. He’s fought great fighters. He’s been in there with great fighters and done a hell of a job. I can’t overlook him because he’s here to put on a great show as well,” said Magdaleno, 27. “He throws a lot of punches, and he’s quick. That’s what I am, and that’s what is going to make a hell of a fight for this fight card.”

    Rivera fought featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz earlier this year. Though he lost by decision he gained fans for his ferocity.

    “I’ve been fighting against top-level fighters for a long time, so I feel confident and secure that whether it’s against a world champion or a former champion, I’ll put up a good fight,” said Rivera, 25. “Jessie is a good fighter. I’ve seen him fight before. He’s an aggressive fighter, but I’m just here to do my work."

    It’s a rather strong and lengthy fight card to baptize the new stadium to the world of prizefighting. Expect a lengthy line of fans on the same corner where many historic events have taken place.

    Boxing has returned to the same street corner where legends like Ali, Sugar Ray, Quarry and Schoolboy Chacon previously performed. It’s a corner with many memories both pleasant and notorious.

    Photo credit: Hector De La Cruz

  • #2
    Navarette is the real deal. I think he wins easy tonight and hopefully will soon be involved in some unification fights.

    Rivera is a very live underdog tonight. Magdelano is certainly the more talented fighter but I do wonder about his confidence. Rivera is going to pressure him from the opening bell. This could be a really good fight.

    Comment


    • Kid Blast
      Kid Blast commented
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      Agreed........................
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