The Oscar Valdez-Emanuel Navarrete fight for the vacant WBO junior lightweight title is set for Feb. 3 in Glendale, Arizona, sources told ESPN.
The Top Rank Boxing on ESPN main event will be supported by an intriguing co-feature between Jose Pedraza and Arnold Barboza Jr., both of whom are ranked in ESPN’s top 10 at junior welterweight.
Valdez and Navarrete will vie for one of the two titles vacated by Shakur Stevenson after he missed weight in September. The bout shapes up as a slugfest between two pressure fighters who have been involved in some brutal boxing matches.
Valdez, a two-time Olympian from Sonora, Mexico, spent a good portion of his childhood in Tucson, Arizona. He welcomed raucous fan support for his September 2021 decision victory over Robson Conceicao in Tucson and will now compete in a third title fight in Arizona.
That victory was marred by a positive test for the banned stimulant phentermine weeks before the bout.
Afterward, Valdez (30-1, 23 KOs) was routed by Stevenson in an April title unification at 130 pounds, the first loss of his pro career. Valdez, 31, also held a title at 126 pounds. He’s currently rated No. 3 by ESPN at junior lightweight.
Navarrete, ESPN’s No. 1 featherweight, holds the WBO title at 126 pounds but will move up four pounds when he attempts to become a three-division champion. The lanky volume-puncher from San Juan Zitaltepec, Mexico, has made three defenses of the title he won in October 2020.
Navarrete (36-1, 30 KOs) also held a title at 122 pounds. He’s coming off a sixth-round KO of Eduardo Baez in August.
Pedraza (29-4-1, 14 KOs), a 33-year-old Puerto Rican, was set to fight Teofimo Lopez on Saturday but fell ill. Now Pedraza will meet Barboza in a fight with title implications at 140 pounds.
A former titleholder at 130 pounds, Pedraza is rated No. 10 by ESPN at 140. He’s coming off a draw with Richard Commey in August.
Barboza (27-0, 10 KOs) is coming off a unanimous-decision victory over Danielito Zorrilla in July. A 30-year-old from Los Angeles, Barboza is rated No. 6 by ESPN at 140 pounds.