A fighting cowboy, a hometown hero, and the grandson of “The Greatest” are set for a summer night to remember in San Diego.
Mexican star Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete will defend his WBO featherweight world title in the main event against countryman Eduardo “El Gemelo” Baez on Saturday, August 20 at Pechanga Arena San Diego.
Navarrete also signed a new multi-year promotional agreement with Top Rank that will see him fight on the ESPN family of networks in events promoted in association with Zanfer Promotions.
“San Diego is a great fight town, and this is an incredible card from top to bottom,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “Emanuel Navarrete is always in tremendous action fights, and Eduardo Baez is the type of opponent who will stand in the center of the ring. Santillan is a fantastic young man who drew plenty of support from the local fans last time he fought here. Nico Ali Walsh has improved leaps and bounds since turning pro last year, and I expect him to leave no doubt against Sanchez this time.”
Navarrete [35-1, 29 KOs], winner of 30 consecutive bouts, is a two-weight world champion entering his 10th world title bout. A native of San Juan Zitlaltepec, Mexico, he emerged on the world scene with a pair of title fight victories over Isaac Dogboe, which started his run as one of boxing’s most fan-friendly world champions. Following five junior featherweight title defenses in nine months, Navarrete moved up to featherweight and won the WBO title in October 2020 with a decision over Ruben Villa. He defended his title twice in 2021, including last October’s 12-round barnburner over Joet Gonzalez at Pechanga Arena.
“I am very excited to finally be back in the ring on August 20. The inactivity of these last eight months has served to give my body the rest it needed and to reflect on many things,” Navarrete said. “Now I’m coming back stronger physically and mentally. I’m going to show that I’m ready to fight any champion at 126 or 130 pounds. There will be a lot of ‘Vaquero’ for a long time.”
Baez [21-2-2, 7 KOs], from Mexicali, Mexico, is the WBO No. 7 featherweight contender. He recently moved up to featherweight after a successful run at junior featherweight that included a Mexican title and wins over three undefeated prospects.
In 2017, he lost a tight decision to Mauricio Lara, who entered the title picture with his 2021 knockout over Josh Warrington. Following a disputed majority decision to Ra’eese Aleem last November, Baez moved up to featherweight. In March, he edged Jose Enrique Vivas by majority decision to earn a world ranking and a shot at the 126-pound king.