Navarrete shines, wins 2nd. title fight in four weeks

Boxing

LAS VEGAS — Junior featherweight world titlist Emanuel Navarrete retained his belt for the second time in a month as he stopped Juan Miguel Elorde in the fourth round on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.

Fighting in the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ co-feature of lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury’s fight against Otto Wallin, Mexico’s Navarrete took the fight on short notice for the opportunity to fight on Mexican Independence Day weekend and he took care of Elorde in fine fashion.

Navarrete (29-1, 25 KOs), 24, who retained his 122-pound world title for the third time — each defense since May — had a slow first round and then unloaded repeatedly on Elorde, scoring a knockdown in the third round and eventually forcing the stoppage.

“I’m happy because I think I put on a great performance,” Navarrete said through a translator. “Fortunately, my opponent is OK, and I came out here to put on a show. I hope the fans enjoyed it on my very first Las Vegas show on Mexican Independence Day Weekend. ‘Vaquero’ Navarrete is here to stay.”

Navarrete was fighting less than a month after his last defense. On Aug. 17, Navarrete headlined a Top Rank card in Los Angeles and retained his title by third-round knockout of Francisco De Vaca. In the ring after the fight, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, wanting to put a fight involving a Mexican world titleholder on Fury’s undercard on the Mexican holiday weekend, asked Navarrete if he wanted to come back a month later and Navarrete gleefully accepted.

Elorde had a good first round, landing a series of sharp punches but Navarrete came back strong in the second round as he got his potent left hook going and never let up.

Navarrete stopped Elorde in his tracks with a clean right hand in the third round and continued to attack him. Moments later Navarrete rocked Elorde with a thudding left hand to the face that may have broken Elorde’s nose. Navarrete was in total control by the end of the round when he drilled Elorde into the ropes with a left and a right that counted as a knockdown because the ropes held him up.

Referee Russell Mora took a long look at Elorde in the corner after the third round but the fight was allowed to continue. But Navarrete hurt him early in the round with a tremendous right hand that buckled him and Mora jumped and waved it off at 26 seconds.

“The most important thing here was that it was a good performance for me,” Navarrete said. “I think the referee did the right thing. He’s going to go home to his family, and everything is going to be OK. It was a good performance on my behalf and he gave what he could. At the end of the day, I came away with the hard-fought victory.”

According to CompuBox, Navarrete landed 88 of 220 punches (40 percent) and Elorde landed just 28 of 101 (28 percent).

Elorde (28-2, 15 KOs), 32, of the Philippines, the grandson of Filipino legend and International Boxing Hall of Famer Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, the longtime 1960s junior lightweight world champion, also happily accepted the fight on three weeks’ notice. He was boxing in the United States and for a world title for the first time.


Zepeda scores big win against Pedraza

Junior welterweight contender Jose Zepeda scored the biggest win of his career, a unanimous decision against former lightweight and junior lightweight world titlist Jose “Sniper” Pedraza, who was moving up to 140 pounds.

Zepeda, a southpaw, outworked and outfought Pedraza in an entertaining fight and won 97-93 on all three scorecards.

“It’s probably one of the best days of my life. It’s Mexican Independence Day. I was giving everything for Mexico,” Zepeda said. “I guess persistence (was the key to victory). The people here were giving me excitement to go get him, to go after this guy. We knew that he was a hell of a boxer.”

Both of Zepeda’s losses came in world title bouts, a second-round stoppage due to a shoulder injury for a vacant lightweight belt to Terry Flanagan in 2015 and a disputed majority decision to Jose Ramirez for a junior welterweight title in February. But with a strong performance against Pedraza (26-3, 13 KOs), 30, of Puerto Rico, Zepeda has put himself back in the title hunt and called for a rematch with Ramirez.

“There were talks that maybe the winner of this fight would go after Ramirez,” Zepeda said. “For me, the rematch, I would like that. It was a very close fight. A lot of people thought I won, a lot of people thought he won. I would love a rematch. I think the people would love it, too.”

It took a couple of rounds for the fight to settle into a rhythm, with Pedraza coming forward and Zepeda (31-2, 25 KOs), 30, of La Puente, California, looking to counter and relying heavily on his jab.

Zepeda’s rapid-fire left hands landed often in the fifth round, but his jab also proved difficult for Pedraza to handle. In the sixth round, Pedraza began to go more to the body and landed a few shots that were audible at ringside, but Zepeda took the shots well and continued to fire jabs down the middle as Pedraza’s face began to show the wear from the shots.

Pedraza, his right eye closing and perhaps believing he was down, came out strong in the eighth round and landed a hard left hand in the opening seconds and then began to stick his jab in Zepeda’s face over and over, forcing him to back up.

According to CompuBox statistics, Zepeda landed 167 of 470 punches (36 percent) and Pedraza connected with 141 of 439 blows (32 percent).

Pedraza remained aggressive in the 10th round and cut Zepeda over his left eye in the best action round of the fight, one that closed with them in a toe-to-toe exchange.

Pedraza dropped to 1-2 in his past three fights, having lost his lightweight belt by decision to Vasiliy Lomachenko in a unification fight in December before bouncing back with a ninth-round knockout of Antonio Lozada in May, before he elected to move up to junior welterweight.

“It was a very good fight. He looked very well, and I just couldn’t do any of the things I wanted to do,” Pedraza said. “Nothing came out the way I wanted. The instruction from my corner was to throw more punches, but nothing was going my way.

“This was my debut at 140. I felt good. I will meet with my team to evaluate if we stay at 140, or if we move down in weight.”


Cuadras edges Cardenas

Former junior bantamweight world titlist Carlos Cuadras (39-3-1, 27 KOs), 31, of Mexico, eked out a majority decision victory over countryman Jose Maria Cardenas (17-5, 14 KOs), 22, in a rough, tough battle in which both fighters were rocked.

Cuadras won his third fight in a row since suffering back-to-back decision losses to McJoe Arroyo and Juan Francisco Estrada, but it wasn’t easy against his unheralded opponent. In the end, Cuadras got the nod 96-94 on two scorecards, while one judge had it 95-95.

“I did what I had to do to get the win. I don’t care what he says,” Cuadras said. “I connected the most powerful and definitive shots. I won the fight.”

Cardenas was upset by the decision.

“This was a total robbery. I clearly won the fight,” he said. “I want an immediate rematch.”

There was lots of back-and-forth action, but it was the quicker Cuadras — darting in and out and landing quick combinations — who had the edge. Cuadras suffered a nasty-looking swelling around his left eye from the fifth round on; and Cardenas’ punches appeared heavier as he backed up Cuadras several times with hard shots, but Cardenas never seemed to have any urgency.


Lowe outpoints Garcia Hernandez

British featherweight Isaac Lowe (18-0-3, 6 KOs), 25, a friend of Fury’s with whom he shared trainer Ben Davison, scored an entertaining unanimous decision victory against Ruben Garcia Hernandez (25-5-2, 11 KOs), 26, of Mexico, in a hard-fought fight in which both had good moments. Lowe won by scores of 78-74, 77-75 and 77-75.

Lowe, who also won on the undercard of Fury’s fight in June against Tom Schwarz, had the biggest moment of the fight when he rocked Hernandez with a right hand in the fifth round.


Flores dominates Perez Aispuro

Lightweight prospect Gabriel Flores Jr. (15-0, 6 KOs), 19, of Stockton, California, put in a workmanlike performance in a shutout victory over Miguel Angel Perez Aispuro (12-9-2, 8 KOs), 29, of Mexico. Flores landed many combinations and won easily, 60-54, on all three scorecards.

“It’s always a thrill to fight here in Las Vegas,” Flores said. “This has been a great year for me as I continue to develop as a fighter. I’ll be back soon.”


Kharsan stops Ochoa

Junior featherweight Iskander Kharsan (7-0, 5 KOs), 22, of Kazakhstan, dropped Isidro Ochoa (7-1, 3 KOs), 22, a southpaw from Fresno, California, with a short right hand in the fifth round. Ochoa’s corner stopped the bout in the corner after the round. It was another dominating performance for Kharsan.

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