After Emanuel Navarrete’s fight last weekend its been suggested that he will likely move up a division as he really struggled to make the weight. I’ve seen from a lot of people that this will happen and it makes sense as Navarrete is big for the weight and his promoters don’t really have anyone for him to fight at super bantamweight unless they can get him a unification which seems unlikely. The WBO featherweight title is currently held by Shakur Stevenson who is with the same promoter that Navarrete is so that fight could be made or whats more likely is Stevenson moves up a weight and Navarrete fights for his vacant title.
With the title being vacant the WBO will put forward the two highest ranked fighters to fight for the title. If both of these fighters accept their offer it could be an interesting match up as I’ll explain below
The number one contender is Stephen Fulton who is currently 18-0 with 8 knockouts. He isn’t the biggest puncher but certainly doesn’t have feathers for fists. In his last fight with Arnold Khegai he showed both his strengths and his weaknesses. Hes a good boxer who fights well on the outside and will move around the ring out boxing you with just enough pop in his hands to stop people just walking forwards. Thats his strengths but unfortunately he also has a few glaring weaknesses. One of them is that he doesn’t seem to have an inside game at all as every time Khegai got near he grabbed and held him desperately. As the fight went on he struggled to get out of the corners when he was getting backed up and this is why I would have picked Navarrete to beat him as hes a better pressure fighter than Khegai and also punches harder and more often. To be fair to him Khegai was his hardest test to date and he will improve after 12 hard rounds.
The number two contender is Angelo Leo who is currently 19-0 with 9 knockouts. Like Fulton he isn’t a massive puncher but he has been facing more veterans who know how to survive so in my opinion he does hit harder than Fulton. I was impressed when Leo stopped Cesar Juarez in his last fight as he showed real improvements from his previous fights and Juarez is a hard guy to stop. I think Leo has a better inside game and is more willing to trade with his opponents though is perfectly capable of boxing on the back foot.
I think this is a good 50/50 fight as Fulton is in my opinion the better boxer on the back foot and I think might have a slight hand speed advantage but Leo is better on the inside and has more power. If i’m honest they are very even and it’ll be hard to pick a winner though Fultons 12 rounds with Khegai may serve him well but saying that he needs to learn a different tactic apart from desperately holding on when his opponents get close to him.