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Navarrete-Gonzalez official for Oct. 15 in San Diego

SB Nation logo SB Nation 9/14/2021 Patrick L. Stumberg
a man wearing a suit and tie © https://twitter.com/trboxing/status/1437823571452071936

It’ll be a day earlier than we expected, but WBO featherweight champion Emanuel Navarrete is officially set to defend his title against mandatory challenger Joet Gonzalez at San Diego’s Pechanga Arena on October 15th.

Navarrete (34-1, 29 KO) fights for the second time in 2021, having beaten down an extremely game Christopher Diaz in April. The longtime super bantamweight champion vacated his title and moved up to 126 in 2020, whereupon he took advantage of his immediate title shot to take a unanimous decision over Ruben Villa.

That win was just his second of two decision victories since 2016.

“I am focused on winning this fight and defending my world title for the second time. I know that Joet Gonzalez is a good fighter. I respect him and he is also my mandatory challenger, but I am the champion, and I will show him why. This belt isn’t going anywhere,” Navarrete said. “I hope that my Mexican fans will support me in San Diego, and my fans from Tijuana can also come to the fight. I will give them a great fight, and it will be a great victory for all my Mexican people.”

Gonzalez’s (24-1, 14 KO) first crack at gold saw him outclassed by Shakur Stevenson, who claimed 11 of 12 rounds on all three judges’ scorecards. He regained his mandatory status nearly a year later by battering Miguel Marriaga.

Gonzalez said, “I am excited and thankful to receive a second world title opportunity, this time against a great Mexican warrior like Navarrete. I know I have what it takes to become a world champion, and I will show the world that on Oct. 15. No disrespect to Navarrete, but this is my time.”

It’s not the ideal defense for Navarrete, but I do think this could end up a really interesting clash between his long-distance, improvisational offense and Gonzalez’s close-quarters bruising.

The two-fight main card will also see unbeaten welterweight Giovani Santillan (27-0, 15 KO) take on Angel “Relampago” Ruiz (17-1, 12 KO). Santillan has fought once each in 2020 and 2021, narrowly edging out Antonio DeMarco and following up with a wide decision over Cecil McCalla, while Ruiz fought in April for this first time since getting derailed by Javier Flores in 2019.

“As soon as I got the call, I was excited because this is something my dad and I talked about for a long time, being part of a big show in San Diego,” Santillan said. “Ruiz is a good fighter, a hungry guy, but I’m hungry as well. We actually sparred a few years back and did some rounds. It was good work. I can’t wait for Oct. 15. I’m going to perform for my family, my friends, and my city. This is an incredible opportunity.”

The undercard includes the likes of Javier Martinez (4-0, 2 KO), Lindolfo Delgado (13-0, 12 KO), and Henry Lebron (13-0, 9 KO).

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