Junior featherweight world titlist Emanuel Navarrete blew away the overmatched Francisco De Vaca in the third round to retain his belt with ease on Saturday.
Mexico's Navarrete landed punches almost at will and faced almost nothing of consequence in return as he retained his 122-pound title for the second time before 3,944 in the main event of the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card. It was the inaugural boxing event at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles.
It was such an easy fight for Navarrete that afterward, in the ring, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum announced that Navarrete would return quickly and defend his title against an opponent to be determined on Sept. 14 (ESPN+) -- Mexican Independence Day weekend -- in the co-feature of lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury's fight with Otto Wallin at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
"He is Mexican. He is proud to be Mexican. Sept. 14 is Mexican Independence weekend, and the best fighter in Mexico will be there defending his title. Congratulations," Arum said while standing next to a smiling Navarrete.
Navarrete (28-1, 24 KOs), 24, the bigger and more powerful man, took it to De Vaca from the outset. He went right at De Vaca, and his punches were obviously heavier as he landed an assortment of shots with both hands. De Vaca, trained by Manny Robles, who also trains unified heavyweight world titlist Andy Ruiz Jr., struggled to land anything cleanly in his first scheduled 12-round bout against by far his most notable opponent.
By the second round, De Vaca's nose was dripping blood onto his chest. Late in the second round, Navarrete drilled De Vaca with a right uppercut and a right hand that dropped him.
Navarrete continued to pound De Vaca in the third round. He hammered with clean, hard blows from both hands to the head and body. He rocked De Vaca repeatedly, forced him to the ropes and blasted away.
De Vaca tried to get off punches, but nothing of note landed as Navarrete walked through them and landed his own shots, especially right hands and uppercuts.
He was teeing off on the defenseless De Vaca (20-1, 6 KOs), 24, a Mexico native fighting out of Phoenix, when referee Raul Caiz Sr. stepped in and waved off the fight at 1 minute, 54 seconds.
"De Vaca showed his fighting heart. He gave 100 percent in the ring tonight," Navarrete said. "First of all, I want to thank my supporters, and second of all, I want to continue the tradition of Mexican boxing in Los Angeles. I want to fill arenas, and I want to achieve the same things that Mexican legends did here."
According to CompuBox statistics, Navarrete landed 95 of 248 punches (38%) and De Vaca landed 39 of 224 (17%). Navarrete closed the show by landing 53 of 115 punches, including 48 of 99 power shots.
Navarrete burst on the scene in December, when he won a decision over heavily favored Isaac Dogboe to take the belt and then knocked Dogboe out in the 12th round of an even more dominating victory in their immediate rematch on May 11.
Magdaleno dominates Rivera
In the co-feature, former junior featherweight world titlist Jessie Magdaleno scored a ninth-round knockdown in a dominating ninth-round technical-decision victory over former world title challenger Rafael "Big Bang" Rivera in their featherweight bout.
Magdaleno won by scores of 89-81, 89-81 and 88-82 in a fight that came to end when Rivera landed an accidental elbow that tore opened a terrible cut over Magdaleno's right eye. The cut was so bad that referee Thomas Taylor stopped the bout at 2 minutes, 55 seconds upon advice of the ringside doctor and sent the fight to the scorecards for a technical decision.
"This is a part of the sport," Magdaleno said of the accidental foul that ended the fight. "He's an aggressive fighter. He's a warrior, but it happens. This is boxing. It's what we signed up for.
"I felt great. I felt strong. I felt better than ever. We boxed smart. We knew he was going to come forward each and every round, so we put our boxing shoes on and outboxed him."
Magdaleno (27-1, 18 KOs), 27, a southpaw from Las Vegas, won his second fight in a row since losing his junior featherweight world title to Dogboe by 11th-round knockout in April 2018, after which Magdaleno moved to the featherweight division.
Rivera (27-4-2, 18 KOs), 25, of Mexico, dropped to 2-4 in his past six fights, but the losses have all come against top opponents in decisions to contender Joseph Diaz Jr., unbeaten Joet Gonzalez (who is a mandatory challenger for a vacant featherweight title), featherweight world titleholder Leo Santa Cruz in February and now Magdaleno.
Rivera, the more aggressive fighter, spent most of the bout stalking forward and trying to rough Magdaleno up on the inside, especially with body punches. However, the quicker, craftier Magdaleno picked off a lot of the punches or simply got out of the way. He also landed many shots down the middle, right hooks and body shots.
In the fourth round, an accidental head-butt opened a bloody cut on the bridge of Magdaleno's nose. As the round ended, Rivera knocked Magdaleno back with a right hand.
Rivera landed a punch behind Magdaleno's head early in the fifth round that sent him to the canvas, and Taylor warned him for the foul.
But Magdaleno was in control throughout the fight, and late in the seventh round, he clobbered Rivera with a left hand near the temple that rocked him and forced him to hold on. Magdaleno landed several follow-up punches. After the round, Rivera's corner told him he needed a knockout to win.
Early in the ninth round of the scheduled 10-rounder, Magdaleno landed another hard left hand to the head that knocked Rivera down, though he got up quickly. Later in the ninth round, Rivera nailed Magdaleno with the accidental elbow opened, forcing the fight to be terminated.
According to CompuBox, Magdaleno landed 118 of 380 punches (31%), and Rivera connected with 90 of 450 shots (20%).
Although Magdaleno will be out for a while due to the severity of the cut, he wants a shot at a featherweight world title.
"The world title," he said of what he wants next. "We're ready. I want them all. It don't matter."