Emanuel Navarrete on Christopher Diaz: “The Pressure Is On Him!”

Emanuel Navarrete vs Christopher Diaz April 24 LIVE on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ @ 10 PM ET

Emanuel Navarrete screams in victory; Christopher Diaz flexes his muscles after victory.
Emanuel Navarrete (left) and Christopher Diaz

Emanuel Navarrete vs Christopher Diaz final press conference

Central Florida will turn into Northern Puerto Rico April 23 when two of the island’s favorite boxers look to make emphatic statements. In the main event from a sold-out Silver Spurs Arena, two-weight Mexican world champion Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete will make the first defense of his WBO featherweight world title against Puerto Rican challenger Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz.

The co-feature will see Edgar “The Chosen One” Berlanga, 16-0 with 16 first-round knockouts, test himself against veteran contender Demond Nicholson in an eight-round super middleweight tilt.

Navarrete-Diaz and Berlanga-Nicholson will air live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT, with undercard action set to stream live and exclusively on ESPN+ at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT. At the final presser, this is what the fighters had to say.

Emanuel Navarrete

“I know he has been fighting at 126 and even at 130. I think it will be tough to hurt a fighter that has fought at higher divisions, but I believe I have the punching power to knock Diaz out.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve fought in front of fans. I miss the vibes of having the fans in the arena. Even though 90 percent of the fans will be cheering for ‘Pitufo,’ I feel like the pressure is going to be on him because he needs to perform for his people. For his fans. I’ve always been a fighter that’s been on the road, fighting away from home. I feel like the pressure is on him.

“I started training camp in Mexico. Things were not as tough there, and the hard part of training camp I did in Tijuana. I want to thank my co-promoter Zanfer for the help they’ve given me. This camp has been very good, unlike the last camp for {Ruben} Villa, where everything was closed. So it was really tough to train for that fight.”

Christopher Diaz

“I’ve been in the big arenas a lot of times {against} Shakur Stevenson, Masayuki Ito in front of 8,000 people. Sold out against Navarrete. I think I have the experience to become world champion Saturday night.

“If you’ve seen my last two fights, I’ve been a different fighter. I go to the ring to perform, to show the people I can be a star. Navarrete is a great champion. It’s a pleasure for me to share the ring with him. We’re going to be in the history books as part of Puerto Rico versus Mexico, but again, there are levels to this. Navarrete has been in a lot of title fights, but this is my second one. I can say my third one because the Shakur Stevenson was that level a fight.

“{After the Stevenson fight}, when I came home and I saw my babies. I have three daughters and a beautiful wife. As a leader in my house, I have to bring the food to the table, and this is the easiest way. I mean, it’s not easy because you get hit, but at the end of the day, I go back to the gym with that mentality.

“I want to tell Navarrete that I respect him as a person. He’s a humble guy. A family man like myself. It’s tough to become a one-time champion. I had my opportunity already, and I just hope he brings his best so we can give the fans a great fight.

“We’re fighting a 50-50 fight. I’m happy because he knows I’m the most dangerous fighter he’s fought to this day. I’m just comfortable. I got confidence in myself. My team believes in me. My family believes in me. That means a lot to me because it’s my family. That’s my team and my daughters yelling to me. That’s the most important thing. I don’t think about Navarrete’s fans who are against me because he deserves that. He’s a two-time world champion.”

Edgar Berlanga

“With winning, all of that comes. The fame, the money…when you’re winning, and if you’re doing what I’m doing, all of that is going to come. So I don’t really pay mind to that. It’s cool to have that, to build a brand. You build the brand, you build the image, and that’s how you make more money. But at the end of the day, boxing is my number one priority. And you have to win at the end of the day.

“He’s the right fight. We’re building something here. It’s brick by brick. Rome wasn’t built in a day. I know he’s a veteran. He has a lot of fights under his belt. He got a lot of experience, and these are the types of fights I need.

“Like I always say, every fight is for Puerto Rico. It’s an island that hasn’t had a world champion and a superstar in a very long time, so for me, it’s going to be electrifying. I’m ready to tear the roof off. It’s going to be a good night Saturday.

“We push in training camp to go those rounds in sparring. I make sure I’m ready to go 12 rounds, whether {the fight} is an eight-rounder or 10-rounder. And that’s the mindset you gotta have because there are killers out there. You have to train for that. When you’re on top and a target, everyone wants to take your head off. So you have to be 100 percent prepared. We’re in camp, and I push myself to the limit each and every time.

Demond Nicholson

“When we got the call, {I thought} that’s not a bad fight. When we first got it, we turned it down. They called us in December or January. We turned it down. They didn’t offer the money that we wanted, and then they called us back and we found a conclusion and the fight is happening.

On how he’s changed since his 2018 knockout loss to Jesse Hart

“I’m not mentally in the same place I was three years ago, financially and everything. I was facing some hard demons that I’ve pushed away and pushed to the side, overcame, and now it’s time to work. It’s my time to shine.

“It’s going to be a boxing lesson. That’s all I can tell you.”

ESPN, ESPN Deportes & ESPN+, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT

  • Emanuel Navarrete vs. Christopher Diaz, 12 rounds, Navarrete’s WBO Featherweight World Title
  • Edgar Berlanga vs. Demond Nicholson, 8 rounds, super middleweight

ESPN+, 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT

  • Josue Vargas vs. Willie Shaw, 10 rounds, junior welterweight
  • Joseph Adorno vs. Jamaine Ortiz, 8 rounds, lightweight
  • Orlando Gonzalez vs. Juan Antonio Lopez, 8 rounds, featherweight
  • Xander Zayas vs. Demarcus Layton, 6 rounds, welterweight
  • Jeremy Adorno vs. Ramiro Martinez, 4 rounds, junior featherweight
  • Jaycob Gomez vs. Mobley Villegas, 4 rounds, junior lightweight

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