Navarrete defending world title against Horta

In an era when world titleholders usually fight only twice per year, junior featherweight world titlist Emanuel Navarrete is set for his fifth bout in 12 months.

Navarrete will make his fourth defense when he faces Mexican countryman Francisco Horta on Dec. 7 (ESPN+, 10 p.m. ET) at the Auditorio GNP Seguros in Puebla, Mexico, in the main event of a newly added Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ date, Top Rank announced on Thursday.

The main card will also feature junior bantamweight world titlist Jerwin Ancajas defending his title against Miguel Gonzalez and featherweight Miguel Marriaga against Alfredo Mejia Vargas.

“Emanuel Navarrete is one of Mexico’s great young champions, and he’s only getting started,” Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said. “At 24 years of age, he is wise beyond his years and hungry to challenge himself against the very best. He’ll have defended his belt four times in 2019, and 2020 is shaping up to be another spectacular year for ‘Vaquero.'”

Navarrete (29-1, 25 KOs) won a 122-pound world title by unanimous decision over Isaac Dogboe last Dec. 8 in New York and has made three successful defenses: a 12th-round knockout of Dogboe in a May 11 rematch, a third-round knockout of Francisco De Vaca on Aug. 17 and a fourth-round stoppage of Juan Miguel Elorde on Sept. 14.

All of Navarrete’s title bouts have been in the United States, and he will be boxing in his home country for the first time since June 2018, in the bout before he beat Dogboe to win the belt.

“I am very excited to close the year by defending my world title in my beloved Mexico,” Navarrete said. “This will be another dream that will be fulfilled and I assure you another exciting fight. I always go for the knockout. I think it is best to win by knockout, and on Dec. 7, the fans in Puebla will see another action-packed fight from ‘El Vaquero.'”

The largely unknown Horta (20-3-1, 10 KOs), 26, is unbeaten since 2014, going 12-0-1 in the stretch and having won 10 fights in a row, albeit against lesser opposition.

“On Dec. 7, the fans will get to know who I am. This will be guaranteed war because we are both Mexican warriors,” Horta said. “This is a golden opportunity; definitely a dream that will come true sooner than expected. I will dispute the world title against the best 122-pounder in the world, Emanuel Navarrete. I will win the title at any cost.”

Ancajas was scheduled to defend his 115-pound world title against Jonathan Rodriguez on the Miguel Berchelt-Jason Sosa card on Nov. 2 in Carson, California, but the bout was canceled two days beforehand because Mexico’s Rodriguez had visa issues and was unable to enter the United States.

Now the Philippines’ Ancajas (31-1-2, 21 KOs), a 27-year-old southpaw and the division’s longest-reigning active titlist, will make his eighth defense when he faces Gonzalez.

“I am ready to defend my world title in front of the great Mexican fans,” Ancajas said. “Since my fight against Rodriguez was canceled, I’ve stayed in America to train, and I am in fantastic shape. Gonzalez is a worthy challenger and has beaten good opposition to earn this title shot.”

Gonzalez (31-2, 8 KOs), 30, of Peru, will be boxing outside of his home country for the second time. He lost the first fight to former bantamweight world titlist Paul Butler in England in 2013.

Gonzalez’s only other defeat came by eighth-round knockout to Andrew Moloney on March 22 in a world title elimination bout. Gonzalez has won two fights in a row by knockout since.

“This is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for,” Gonzalez said. “Ancajas is a great champion, but this is my time.”

A victory would make Gonzalez only the second fighter ever from Peru to win a world title. He would join former flyweight titlist Alberto Rossel, who held a 112-pound belt in 2014.

Three-time world title challenger Marriaga (28-3, 24 KOs), 33, of Colombia, will face Vargas (14-2-3, 5 KOs), 27, of Mexico, in an eight-round featherweight bout. Marriaga has won three fights in a row since, all by knockout, since back-to-back losses challenging for world titles in 2017: a decision to Oscar Valdez for a featherweight belt followed by a seventh-round knockout to Vasiliy Lomachenko for a junior lightweight title.

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