Emanuel Navarrete became a three-weight world champion following a barnstorming bout against Liam Wilson.
“El Vaquero” visited the canvas tonight, but he got back up to score a late stoppage over the rugged Australian.
Navarrete (37-1, 31 KOs) captured the vacant WBO super featherweight title with a hard-earned ninth-round technical knockout victory.
The triumph came on Friday night at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
Navarrete joins an elite list of Mexican boxers who have captured titles in three weight classes.
Emanuel Navarrete – three-weight champion
That list includes the likes of Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, and Juan Manuel Marquez.
Navarrete controlled the fight in the early rounds by pushing the action with his awkward style. But in the fourth round, he was hurt badly by a left hook, which allowed Wilson to land several more shots and eventually drop Navarrete.
The Mexican warrior was able to recover. However, he got hurt again with a right hook in the sixth.
Navarrete kept his cool and eventually began a vicious assault on the body, which weakened Wilson in the eighth round.
The pre-fight favorite caught Wilson with a right hand that sent him down hard.
Wilson did his best to survive the onslaught, but Navarrete’s relentless punching was too much and forced the ref to halt the fight at 1:57 of the ninth.
At the stoppage time, all three judges had Navarrete ahead (76-75 and 77-74 2x).
“I’m made of a lot of work, strength, heart, and the Mexican spirit that never lets me down,” Navarrete said.
“Liam is a warrior. He was able to land a shot that stunned me a lot. We tried to take things calmly.
“Fortunately, we were able to recover our calmness. We went out to recover a bit. We returned to 100%. And we began to engage.
“The satisfaction of winning like this is enormous. I needed this test to be able to say my career was complete.
“Now that I know I can hit the canvas and get back up and keep fighting, I’m more than happy because I know I can continue forward.”
The bone of contention for Wilson is that Navarette was down for 20-plus seconds in his most arduous knockdown.
Replacing the mouthpiece added much-needed time to his recovery. Wilson believes he’d have won without the long pause.
“Tonight, I came up a bit short, and I’m disappointed,” Wilson said. “But I knocked him down in the fourth round. I felt that the count was a bit long.
“We’ll have to review it and see what people think. He’s a true champion, though.
“I thought I won the fight because I believe it was about a 20-second count. I’ll review it and see what happens there.
“I want to come back. I’m a true champion. This is my 12th fight, but no excuses. I love to fight, and I love challenges. I’d fight any other champion any day of the week.
“He’s a formidable champion. With all due respect to him, he’s very awkward. But this is boxing, and stuff happens.
“All credit to him. I hope he goes on to do great things. I’ll be back. Make no mistake about it.”