Last December, Emanuel Navarrete sprang one of the surprises of 2018 when he edged rising star Isaac Dogboe over twelve rounds to claim the WBO junior featherweight title. The two meet in a rematch on Saturday at the Convention Center in Tucson, Arizona, live on ESPN (10 p.m. ET).
Navarrete, who is ranked No. 3 by The Ring at 122-pounds, expects to turn back the charismatic Ghanaian’s attempt to regain his crown.
“I like the fight, I knew that he would want the rematch soon,” Navarrete (26-1, 22 knockouts) told The Ring through his manager Alejandro Brito. “The first fight was very good, this must be the same. It will be a hard fight, like the first fight. The difference is that now I am the champion, I am going into the ring with more trust and I know that I can box better.
“I know he wants to win but I also want to win. I’m going to demonstrate all my improvements around the ring. I want to be a champion for a long time.”
The 24-year-old puncher is well versed in Dogboe’s abilities, having shared the ring with him five months ago.
“In the first fight I missed many blows wanting the knockout,” he said. “I had some rounds in which I was not very certain, they were errors that will not repeat themselves.
“I feel very strong, fast and motivated to win. I am the champion and I will control the fight, my objective is the same, the knockout.
“Dogboe moves a lot in the early rounds. He knows the power I have, now I will correct my errors and I am sure he can not last against my punch.”
Dogboe (20-1, 14 KOs) turned professional in 2013 after participating in the Olympics in his adopted home of London in 2012. After appearing all over the world on his way up, the 24-year-old won a title eliminator in early 2018 before causing his own upset, getting off the canvas to stop Jessie Magdaleno in the penultimate round. He made one successful defense before dropping the title to Navarrete.
Navarrete dismisses suggestions from Dogboe that he had a tumultuous training camp for their first fight.
“I do not think it is true, he arrived strong to the fight, made the weight without problems and if he did not train [that] was his fault,” he said. “I am the champion, I have already won once.
“I am better than him and on May 11 I will return to win. There are no pretexts, [I hope] Dogboe trains good because I will go for the knockout.”
“Vaquero” (Cowboy) started his training camp at home in Mexico City before basing himself in the border town of Tijuana, away from the distractions of the capital. He sparred for a month in Tijuana at various gyms, notably with stablemate Luis Nery.
Brito, who has guided eight fighters to world titles, is optimistic about the future.
“Emanuel will consolidate himself as the best junior featherweight in the world,” said his handler. “He always asked the face the best. In the first fight he surprised the world, but this time he will show that he is ready for big bouts.”