On December 8, 2018, Emanuel Navarrete was just some dude going to New York to fight Isaac Dogboe on the Lomachenko-Pedraza card.
He’d never fought outside of Mexico, and he’d never beaten a real contender.
He was supposed to be an opponent as Dogboe wrapped up his argument for 2018 Fighter of the Year.
He beat Dogboe up in December and won a decision. He beat him up worse, last Saturday, and stopped him this time when his dad/ trainer threw in the towel in R12.
So now what for the 24-year-old WBO titleholder?
Navarrete (27-1, 23 KO) is supposedly set to go forward working on a co-promotional deal with Top Rank and Zanfer, so you can expect to see him on ESPN platforms for a bit.
Unification is not likely. WBC titleholder Rey Vargas is set to face Tomoki Kameda on July 13, and unified WBA and IBF titleholder Daniel Roman has to face WBA mandatory challenger Murodjon Akhmadaliev.
That leaves us dealing with the WBO rankings. As of their latest update, the top 15 contenders are (BoxRec rankings in parentheses so you get more of a real sense what we’re dealing with):
- Albert Pagara (31)
- Juan Miguel Elorde (63)
- Thomas Patrick Ward (49)
- Marlon Tapales (18 at featherweight)
- Diego De La Hoya (11)
- Isaac Dogboe (4, but I suspect you can eliminate this one)
- Arnold Khegai (37)
- Yenifel Vicente (57)
- Luis Lebron (107)
- Jeo Santisima (59)
- Jose Velasquez (67 at bantamweight)
- David Agadzhanyan (189 at super featherweight)
- Tyrone McCullagh (92)
- Wasiru Mohammed (197)
- Hiroaki Teshigawara (12)
So, having a look at the usual farcical sanctioning body rankings we have here, there’s not a ton to get excited about.
Diego De La Hoya, a Golden Boy fighter, is the best option on this list in some ways, and maybe that’s a doable deal, but if I’m Top Rank, would I make a TV fight with De La Hoya (21-0, 10 KO) dependent upon him making the 122-pound limit?
Diego missed weight and had to cancel a Dec. 2017 fight with Jose Salgado, and then he was hospitalized last November trying to cut down to 122 the week of another ultimately cancelled fight.
I’m not saying any of this to be a wiseass about De La Hoya not making 122.
He’s 24 now, he’s probably simply grown out of the division. He insists he can still make it, but he also weighed in at 127¼ for an April tune-up bout in Mexico, the first fight he’d had in 10 months.
The last time he tried to cut to 122, it put his health at risk. If I’m Top Rank, I don’t know that I can trust his claim that he can do it enough to sign him up for a world title fight on ESPN or ESPN+ or ESPN2 or ESPN3 or ESPNews or anything.
The best BoxRec ranking outside of De La Hoya is Hiroaki Teshigawara (19-2-2, 12 KO), the 28-year-old OPBF regional champion. All of his pro fights have been in Japan — in fact, they’ve all been at the famous Korakuen Hall.
Arnold Khegai (15-0-1, 10 KO) is an interesting fighter, a 27-year-old Ukrainian who has largely fought in Russia.
But the name that jumps off this list for me, and I’m not saying this will be the fight, is Tyrone McCullagh (13-0, 6 KO), a 28-year-old from Derry, Northern Ireland, nicknamed “White Chocolate.”
The reason his name jumps out is that McCullagh is an MTK Global fighter, and MTK Global work with Top Rank for U.S. broadcasts through ESPN+. He’s got the WBO European title and just fought on May 3, so the timing lines up. And we all know Bob Arum loves to stick an Irish fighter in New York.
Now it could well just be Pagara or Elorde or Ward or Tapales, one of the top four, all I’m saying is don’t ignore McCullagh down that list. I’m also saying that Navarrete is not likely to be getting a top-flight matchup, next time he gets in the ring.