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Emanuel Navarrete defends title against determined Christopher Diaz

Written By | Apr 25, 2021
Navarrete, Boxing, Puerto Rico

Emanuel Navarrete is victorious as he defeats Christopher Diaz for the WBO featherweight title at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Florida. Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

SAN DIEGO, Calif., April 24, 2021 – Except for the main event, Puerto Rican fans enjoyed their boxing in person in Kissimmee, Florida on Saturday with victories. It was good to hear real cheering instead of piped-in noise for the Boricua boxers.

In the main event, two-division champion Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete of Mexico (33-1, 28 KOs) carried the flag for Mexico, disappointing the partisan crowd with a rousing defeat of Puerto Rican challenger Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz (26-3, 10 KOs) with a stoppage just seconds before the end of the fight in the 12th round.  Navarrete retains his WBO World Featherweight title.

Navarrete, Boxing, Puerto Rico

Emanuel Navarrete’s awkward punching angles gave Christopher Diaz all he could handle during their fight Saturday. Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

After a somewhat slow start, Navarrete amped up the offense with sweeping and chopping punches from multiple angles. Diaz took punches well and did what he could to slow Navarrete down, but he didn’t have the tools to deal with the Mexican champion’s assault. These punches set the stage for Navarrete’s uppercuts, and one dropped Diaz with 30 seconds left in the fourth round.

By the seventh round, Diaz knew he was losing and struggling but wasn’t going to give up.

He captured enough moments to stay in the fight. Diaz hurt his cause in the seventh round when he slapped Navarrete on the back with his glove, and the referee deducted a point.

Navarrete dropped Diaz again with an uppercut in the eighth round, and Diaz struggled to his feet. He opened up a cut, which may have blurred Diaz’s vision. Navarrete dropped Diaz again, this time with a combination of bludgeoning punches. Diaz might have considered staying down, but he got to his feet and finished with just seconds in the round.

Navarrete, Boxing, Puerto Rico

Christopher Diaz (right) put up a champion’s effort in the loss to Emanuel Navarrete. Photo: Mikey Williams, Top Rank Inc.

Diaz came out for the ninth round after cutman Mike Bazzel cleaned him up, and whatever he had left in the tank was stretched to the limit. Give Diaz credit. It was hard to watch and impressive at the same time seeing Diaz hang in. His chances for a victory were too slim for his corner to let him continue.

But Diaz gave it all he had, and the corner let him fight on. Before the final round, trainer Nelson Rodriguez. “Let it loose. I got faith in you. Last round, take a deep breath. No pain, no pain, there’s no pain. You told me in the last round. You gotta (eff) him up. This is it, let’s go.”

Diaz went for broke, and Navarrete had to protect himself and take a breath before returning fire to counteract Diaz’s last push. He knocked Diaz down again with 30 seconds left in the fight. Diaz got to his feet but had nothing left, but the referee willingly let Diaz finish on his feet. Diaz’s corner had enough and threw in the towel with 14 seconds left in the first. It was Navarrete’s third 12th round stoppage in his career.

While the Florida fans would have liked a win from Diaz, they cheered his effort and got everything they could have asked for from Diaz and from the champion in his winning effort. It’s difficult to say what’s in Diaz’s future, but he should take pride in his performance.

Edgar Berlanga’s knockout streak is over

Edgar Berlanga didn't get the knockout but he did get four knockdowns in his bout with Demond Nicholson Saturday Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images Emanuel Navarrete defends

Edgar Berlanga didn’t get the knockout but he did get four knockdowns in his bout with Demond Nicholson Saturday Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images.

Super middleweight Edgar “The Chosen One” Berlanga of Brooklyn (17-0, 16 KOs) got the victory in the co-main event without a first-round knockout, going the eight-round distance against veteran Demond Nicholson of Maryland (23-4-1, 20 KOs). Scores were a lopsided 79-69 X 2 and 79-68.

“I’m not disappointed, I’m actually relieved now,” said Berlanga. “I got in the rounds, I actually knocked him down quite a few times. It was a great experience for me going into the eighth round. I proved that I’m a tough future world champion. I wasn’t in there with no slouch. I was in there with a veteran.”

Berlanga gave the fans more than a passing glance at him, battering a tough Nicholson who refused to give up. He scored knockdowns in the second round on a counter left hook and another left in the third round. Nicholson recovered and had a solid fourth round, landing hooks of his own and cutting Berlanga’s lip. The third knockdown for Berlanga came in the fifth round. Still, Nicholson carried on. Both men took a breather before the eighth round, and with just 30 seconds to go, Berlanga dropped Nicholson for the fourth time on a check right hook to the head. The referee could have stopped the bout, but he let Nicholson finish on his feet.

“I got the experience in front of my people,” said Berlanga. “I felt like it was a C. I  know I could have done a lot better. There were things I could have did, but we got the job done.”

Nicholson did the 23-year-old Berlanga a huge favor, and on the day the New Yorker wins a world championship, he will have Nicholson to thank. Nicholson proved he’s a worthy competitor. Once he recovers, Top Rank should give him a paycheck and let fans see him again.

Undercard action pleases Puerto Rican crowd

Joseph Adorno and Jamaine Ortiz exchange punches during their fight. Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

Lightweights Jamaine Ortiz of Worcester, Massachusetts (14-0-1, 8 KOs) and Joseph Adorno of Allentown, Pennsylvania (14-0-1, 12 KOs) fought one of the best eight-round fights you’ll see in 2021. Neither let up in the back-and-forth display of power shots, battling to a majority draw with scores of 75-75 and 76-74 for Ortiz.

Adorno scored knockdowns of Ortiz in rounds one and seven. But Ortiz controlled much of the fight, and the two knockdowns saved Adorno from his first loss. Judges who scored a draw gave five of the remaining six rounds without knockdowns to Ortiz.

Joseph Adorno and Jamaine Ortiz put on the best eight round fight of 2021. Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

Both men buzzed and rattled each other repeatedly, and the fight seemed on the brink of ending multiple times until the final bell.

Anyone interested in rolling it back, raise your hand. Adorno’s brother Jeremy (5-0, 1 KO) scored a majority decision over Ramiro Martinez. Scores were 40-36, 39-37, and 38-38.

Xander Zayas only needed 56 seconds to stop Demarcus Layton. Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

Xander Zayas only needed 56 seconds to stop Demarcus Layton. Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

Top Rank’s sensational 18-year-old welterweight prospect Xander Zayas of Puerto Rico (8-0, 6 KOs) started a new knockout streak.

It thrilled the fans with a knockout at just under one minute of the first round against Demarcus Layton of Little Rock (8-2, 5 KOs). In his brief appearance, Zayas demonstrated maturity far beyond an 18-year-old prospect with bodywork behind his jab, setting up the left hook stopping the fight.

Josue Vargas got the win over Willie Shaw. Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

Puerto Rican native Josue Vargas (19-1, 9 KOs) battled a determined but outclassed Willie Shaw of Vallejo, California (13-3, 9 KOs) in their 10-round super lightweight bout. Scores were 99-91 X 2 and 98-92.


About the author:

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities from San Diego, California. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.

Copyright © 2021 by Falcon Valley Group

Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award-winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.