Emanuel Navarrete is not giving up on the lightweight division despite his 12 round split loss last Saturday night to Denys Berinchyk in a failed bid to win the vacant WBO 135-lb belt.

Berinchyk won the fight by the scores of 116-112 and 115-113, while the third judge surprisingly had Navarrete the winner by the score of 116-112. I had it 11-1 in Berinchyk’s favor. It wasn’t even remotely close.

Overmatched at Lightweight

Berinchyk schooled Navarrete from A to B, making him look like a stay-busy type of opponent. Navarrete did not resemble a top-tier fighter against Berinchyk. The judges gave Navarrete rounds he didn’t deserve. At lightweight, Navarrete is a below average fighter, and would be food for many of the top 10 and even the bottom feeders would beat him.

hrow Navarrete in with #12-ranked Mark Chamberlain or #12 Maxi Hughes and the same thing would happen to him as we saw last night. Navarrete is not talented enough to compete at lightweight at a high level.

Fighting in his fourth weight division, Navarrete (38-2-1, 31 KOs) looked slow, lethargic, and overmatched against the faster, more technically gifted Berinchyk (19-0, 9 KOs) at their main event contest at the Pechanga Arena in San Diego, California.

Navarrete’s punches didn’t have the same effect on Berinchyk, a 2012 Olympic silver medalist and natural lightweight, as they did when the Mexican star was fighting in the 122, 126, and 130-lb divisions.

Uncertain Future with Top Rank

It seemed obvious that moving up to the 135-lb division was a bridge too far for Navarrete, and things aren’t going to get better for him if his promoters at Top Rank continue to throw him in with talented opposition at lightweight.

It’s difficult to predict what Top Rank promoter Bob Arum wants to do with Navarrete. If Arum sets him up with a title shot against IBF lightweight champion Vasily Lomachenko, the outcome will likely be far worse for Navarrete than last night’s loss because Loma is on another level and will take advantage of the Mexican star’s lack of sound fundamentals.

Lomachenko vs. Navarrete would be a business-level fight that would be just for money purposes, but would not be competitive. Obviously, it would be a bad look for Navarrete to be given a title shot against Lomachenko off of a loss to Berinchyk, but it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen this kind of thing in boxing.

A Return to Super Featherweight?

For the sake of Navarrete’s career, he needs to return to super featherweight and continue defending his WBO title. However, even in that division, Navarrete’s days are numbered.

In Navarrete’s previous fight against Robson Conceicao, he was held to a controversial 12-round draw last November. I had Conceicao winning the fight, but the judges bailed Navarrwete out, giving him a draw.

The performance by Navarrete showed that he’s vulnerable at 130, and he won’t hold onto his WBO title for long unless his promoters at Top Rank feed him soft opposition. The judges won’t keep bailing Navarrete out indefinitely. If he can no longer swim with the sharks, he doesn’t belong as a champion. That’s the bottom line.

Navarrete’s Determination

“It was something new for me. Like I always said, it would be difficult. Denys is a great fighter. He made me struggle a lot. And you saw what happened. But I’m happy with how I fought. I know that I need to improve,” said Navarrete after his loss to Berinchyk last Saturday night.

“I’m not sad. I know it was a test. I needed to do more, but I know that I can do more. So, I congratulate him on his win. I’m happy because I tried things out at 135 pounds, and I know I will be strong at this division.”

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