Photos by Sumio Yamada
OMAR NARVAEZ vs OMAR SOTO
In one of the most shocking upsets in years, Hugo Hernan Garay, fighting at home in Argentina, lost his WBA light-heavy title on a majority decision to Spains Gabriel Campillo last weekend. We now know that Garay had to lose a large amount of weight in a short space of time, and thus quickly ran out of stamina in a seemingly routine fight, one that looked so one-sided that I didnt bother to preview it.
On Friday, a much more reliable Argentinean fighter, Omar Narvaez, defends his WBO flyweight title at the famous Luna Park stadium in Buenos Aires. He has defended his title successfully 15 times since winning it seven years ago.
Obviously Narvaez cannot go on winning indefinitely, but it seems highly unlikely that this dedicated and determined fighter would blow his title by being complacent or taking a carefree approach to his profession.
Narvaez, 33, has made title defences in France, Spain and Italy, but his finest performance might have come in his last fight, in Argentina, when he wore down and stopped his American mandatory challenger, Rayonta Whitfield.
On Friday, Narvaez meets a Mexican challenger, Omar Soto, whose best performance came four years ago, when he outpointed Colombian former IBF champion Daniel Reyes.
This earned Soto a title fight against Muhammad Rachman in Indonesia, when he was knocked out in the sixth.
Soto is quite a useful boxer but he has failed every time he has stepped up in class, except for his win over Reyes, and Narvaez looks like being far too good for him.
Narvaez sometimes coasts along in these voluntary defences, giving the crowd a demonstration of his clever boxing five of his last seven wins have been on points and he seemed to ease up a bit when meeting the game young Mexican challenger Alejandro Hernandez. In other fights, though, Narvaez has lived up to his Huracan nickname with some storming displays, such as when he knocked out the tall, rangy Nicaraguan Marlon Marquez in four rounds in what I had expected to be a much longer fight.
Whether Narvaez puts on a boxing exhibition on Friday or goes out to do something more dynamic in nature, he looks a sure winner. Im thinking on the lines of a stoppage win in seven or eight rounds.
The Hugo Hernan Garay debacle last weekend was a sorry night for Argentinean fans, but I very much doubt if Argentina will have to cry for Narvaez on Friday.