Navarrete, Pedraza, Flores Jr, Valera all in action
By Bill Tibbs
On September 14, live from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, hugely popular Tyson Fury will make his 3rd straight U.S. appearance, and his 2nd Sin City outing in 3 months, on the road to what he hopes will be a 2020 rematch with WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. Next up for the Manchester, UK big man is undefeated Otto Wallin of Sweden. However, before the bright lights of the main event go up there are some fighters of note on the undercard that are worth a look. Let’s take a quick peek at a few of them.
Emanuel Navarrete - (28-1, 24 KO’s). This guy is about as hot as it gets in boxing right now. He won the WBO super bantamweight world title in 2018 against undefeated KO artist Isaac Dogboe. To put a stamp on that win, he stopped him 5 months later in the rematch. In his first bout of 2019, he halted undefeated Francisco De Vaca in 3 rounds in California in the main event of the inaugural boxing card at the beautiful Banc of California Stadium. For the record, that win was a little over 3 weeks ago. (At this pace, we should see him 4 more times before the year is out!). In all seriousness, this is a throwback, old school warrior who comes forward and looks to do damage from the get-go. Navarrete defends his WBO strap against Juan Miguel Elorde (28-1, 15 KO’s) of the Philippines.
Jose Pedraza – (26-2, 13 KO’s). Interesting fight for the former IBF world super featherweight champion who has been in the ring with Gervonta Davis, Vasyl Lomachenko and Ray Beltran to name a few. Faces off against experienced, and battle tested Jose Zepeda who has only come up short 2 times in 32 fights, both were title fights and, on the road, against Terry Flanagan in 2015 and Jose Ramirez in 2019. Tough, interesting matchup.
Gabriel Flores Jr. – (14-0, 6 KO’s). Still only 19 years old, the Stockton California teen is heading into his 4th bout of 2019 in a year that could see him sew up 5 or 6 wins before the calendar closes. A star in the making, advisor Rick Mirigan (who handles Fresno superstar and WBC/WBO super lightweight champion Jose Ramirez) sees big things for the undefeated Flores Jr. It’s early days yet, despite heading into bout # 15 already, but it has been so far, so good. He’s gonna be a fun young man to watch as he develops into a contender.
Felix Valera - (18-2, 15 KO’s). At age 31, is looking to put enough wins together to put him in a spot for another world title shot. Won the WBA (interim) light heavyweight title in 2015 but lost it in his first title defense in 2016 against Dmitry Bivol (who still holds the title today). Has put 3 wins together since losing to former world title challenger Sullivan Barrera in 2017. Interesting matchup in this fight for Valera as he faces Vyacheslav Shrabranskyy who is coming off a win after dropping one to Sergey Kovalev 2 fights ago.
Guido Vianello – (4-0, 4 KO’s). The 6’6”, 25-year old was signed by Top Rank recently and is looking to bring some Italian flavor to the heavyweight division. Turned pro at the end of 2018 and has racked up 3 straight wins so far this year. Goes in against a fighter with some experience in Omaha’s 7-1 Cassius Anderson. The Roma, Italy fighter has some pop having stopped all 4 opponents so far. Look for Top Rank to keep him active so we might see him a couple more times yet this year.