Emanuel Navarrete versus Gary Russell unification, anyone?
In WBO World Featherweight champion Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete’s (33-1, 28 KO’s) last fight he defended his belt for the first time. It was not an easy out as his gritty foe, Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz (26-3, 16 KO’s), brought more pain to his belly than Braxton Hicks contractions! Nevertheless, following almost twelve complete rounds of action Navarrete forced Diaz’s corner to throw in the towel. So, as it always is in the sport of boxing, the question now becomes who should Vaquero dance with next? Super featherweight boxer Shakur Stevenson has already shown his interest. To make that happen however, Navarrete would have to move up in weight. Before he does that though, why not lock horns with WBC World Featherweight champion “Mr.” Gary Russell (31-1, 18 KO’s)?
NO SIDE-STEPPING HERE
There is no denying that Russell is a supreme talent. In fact, he has held his WBC title since 2015 and defended it five times. The two biggest knocks against Russell is that he only fights once a year and that’s usually against his mandatory challenger. Let Russell tell it, the reason for this is the unwillingness of the other top guys to face him.
There is more than a grain of truth to this statement. Fighters such as Leo Santa Cruz have absolutely no valid reason for why he has never penned a bout with the DC native. Luckily, Navarrete does not seem to be one to shy away from a stern challenge! Not only would this be a tough fight, it would stand as a unification bout. Again, this scribe has a hard time believing that Vaquero would avoid the opportunity to collect another belt, especially from a fellow well-respected champion.
TEXTBOOK STYLE VERSUS THE ODDBALL
When testing his might with Diaz, Navarrete showed that movement can give him a bit of trouble. Also, as mentioned before, the punishing body work that Pitufo put in gave Vaquero all sorts of problems. Russell has certainly displayed the ability to float around the ring on ten nimble toes when need be. Yet, could he duplicate the successful body work that Diaz did? The issue here is not with technical ability but rather power. While Mr. believes that he has underrated power, those in the media and fan base generally regard him as a lighter-punching fighter. Whether he has a thump in his knuckles or not, there is no denying that Russell has some awfully fast mitts.
This could prove to be of particular interest against Navarrete being that both men delight in throwing high volume combinations. Would they be able to maintain that characteristic versus one another or would they cancel each other out? Would Vaquero be able to land his tricky combinations at the same high rate on the defensively skillful Russell? Could Russell sit in the pocket and absorb the same punishment that Diaz did, if need be? No matter how you slice it, this is one intriguing high stakes unification fight. At the moment, there is no telling what direction Navarrete may go in next, but he certainly could not go wrong with a Russell showdown!
By: Bakari Simpson