By: Sean Crose
The 31-1 featherweight Emanuel Navarrete faced off against the18-0 Ruben Villa inside the bubble at that MGM Grand in Las Vegas Friday evening. At stake was the vacant WBO featherweight title. The bout was aired live on ESPN, and was presented by Top Rank Promotions.
The opening round saw Navarrete swinging a bit wildly at times. When he did land in the last thirty seconds of the round, however, Villa hit the mat. Beating the count, Villa was able to survive the first. The awkward Navarrete continued to reach with his punches in the second. Villa, however, was unable to control the tempo. By the third, Villa seemed to have found his comfort zone and was employing better ring generalship than he had previously.
Navarrete was able to drop Villa again in the fourth. Villa had been doing well, but Navarrete was too powerful for his best shots not to be effective. Once again, Villa was able to get up and survive the round. Navarrete took to hunting his man in the fifth, then continued to steamroll along in the sixth. By the seventh it was clear to anyone who was watching that Navarrete’s hands were just too heavy for Villa.
Still, Villa’s footwork kept him from harm in the eighth. Villa would have to do something truly impressive, however, if he were to somehow win the fight. Navarrete continued to throw wildly in the ninth, clearly feeling that he needed to do nothing more. Villa was seemingly able to take the tenth with aggressive punching and effective footwork.
The eleventh was a close, high octane three minute fight. The final round saw Navarrete stalk his man the same as he had stalked Villa through much of the fight. After the final bell, the judges ruled it for Navarrete by scores of 115-111, 114-112, and 114-112, allowing Navarrete to walk away with the WBO belt.