Emanuel Navarrete will fight this Saturday, looking to capture the vacant WBO lightweight title against unbeaten Denys Berinchyk in the 12-round main event on ESPN at the Pechanga Arena in San Diego, California. The event will be shown live at 11:00 p.m. ET on ESPN and ESPN+.

Navarrete’s Ambitious Leap to Lightweight

Navarrete (38-1-1, 31 KOs) to take on #1 WBO Berinchyk (18-0, 9 KOs) for the vacant 135-lb belt. The 29-year-old Navarrete was able to use his status as the WBO super featherweight champion to get a straight shot at the lightweight title with that organization.

If Navarrete loses, he’ll likely return to 130 and resume defending that belt. This is a difficult fight for Navarrete with taking on the 2012 Olympic silver medalist Berinchyk.

After moving up to 130 pounds in 2023, Navarrete didn’t look overly impressive in two of his three bouts at super featherweight. He looked a little fat and struggled in his fights against Liam Wilson and Robson Conceição.

Now, after one year at super featherweight, Navarrete is moving up to lightweight and taking on a tough fighter in 35-year-old Berinchyk.

It’s a risky fight for Navarrete, but he might feel he has to move up because he’s got more opportunities for big paydays at lightweight than he does at super featherweight.

Navarrete’s Weight and Performance Concerns

Also, Navarrete’s weight is an issue, as he looks like he’s getting bigger. It’s unclear what Navarrete is doing in between fights for his waistline to look kind of flabby, but it’s understandable why he keeps moving up in weight.

Navarrete has two things working in his favor: Berinchyk isn’t a spring chicken with a lot of miles on the clock from his amateur career in Ukraine, and he’s not a big puncher, so that should help Navarrete.

If Navarrete wins this fight, he could potentially fight IBF champion Vasily Lomachenko next in a unification clash. If he Navarrete loses to Berinchyk, he’ll likely return to super featherweight.

Undercard Highlight: Santillan vs. Norman Jr.

Also on this Saturday’s card is #1 WBO welterweight contender Giovani Santillan (32-0, 17 KOs), fighting Brian Norman Jr (25-0, 19 KOs) in a 12-round contest. Santillan, 32, is coming off a sixth-round knockout of the heavy-handed Alexis Rocha last October in a war.

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