Liam Wilson has lost his world title fight against Emanuel Navarrete in Arizona after a controversial call in which the Mexican fighter was allowed to continue after a sensational knockdown. The Aussie fighter came into the bout for the vacant WBO super featherweight title as the heavy underdog against his Mexican opponent, but inflicted a huge blow on Navarrete in the fourth round.
Wilson sent Navarrete crashing to the canvas with a huge combination that left fans and commentators stunned, with one TV caller describing the moment as 'shocking'. Navarrete got extremely lucky when the bell went for the end of the round and recovered enough to stay in the fight.
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The referee also appeared to allow Navarrete a huge amount of time to fix his mouthguard before clearing him to continue. All up, Navarrete was given a whopping 27 seconds before the fight continued.
Wilson then rocked Navarrete again in the sixth round before the Mexican fighter fought back in the seventh with a huge flurry of his own. But Navarrete then scored a devastating knockdown of his own in the ninth, leaving the Aussie in a world of hurt. He finished off Wilson not long after, with the referee calling off the fight and awarding Navarrete the TKO victory.
However many believed the referee should have called the fight off after the initial knockdown in the fourth. Fans took to social media to label the result a 'disgrace' and 'joke', while Wilson's camp lodged an official protest.
— Ben Damon (@ben_damon) February 4, 2023
That took way too long, gave him an eternity
— James McKern (@jLmcKern) February 4, 2023
Wow this ref in Liam Wilson fight is a disgrace ..should be over!! #NavarreteWilson
— Nonchaser (@LukeyT10222249) February 4, 2023
That’s a disgrace - letting Navarrete take an eternity to mouth guard back in. No way he survives round if ref gets on with the job. #NavaretteWilson
— Haggle (@Hagsy29) February 4, 2023
— Paul (@ardmorelad) February 4, 2023
Ref looking back at Wilson in corner hoping he can yell at him to give Navarette even more time. Joke
— Maximo Belak (@BelakMax) February 4, 2023
— Nathan Bland (@NingBland) February 4, 2023
Gutsy effort from Liam Wilson in his first world title fight. Had Navarrete hurt and in trouble before succumbing to the pressure of the unorthodox Mexican, stopped in the 9th. Wilson will be back at the top level soon, no doubt #NavaretteWilson
— Jamie Pandaram (@JamiePandaram) February 4, 2023
— Dan Rafael (@DanRafael1) February 4, 2023
Navarrete (37-1, 31 knockouts) is now a three-weight world champion, while Wilson's record falls to 11-2 (seven KOs). It marks Navarrete's 32nd consecutive win (dating back to 2012) and his 11th title fight. The victory means he is the 10th Mexican to win titles in three divisions.
It was Wilson's second defeat in only 13 professional fights. The Brisbane product promised his dying father 11 years ago that he'd become a world champion one day.
Liam Wilson right rocked by weigh-in 'cheating' scandal
Wilson's team were early denied in their attempts to have Navarrete weighed again on Friday (Saturday AEDT) after scandal erupted over an official's actions 24 hours earlier. The Aussie fighter's manager sensationally threatened to boycott his world title fight over claims of cheating from the Mexican's camp at the weigh-ins.
Footage from Thursday's weigh-in captured an official twice touching the digital scales before Wilson and Navarrete stepped on. Wilson and his team were left gobsmacked when he weighed in at 126.6 pounds - about four pounds or two kilograms lighter than they claim he weighed just 20 minutes earlier. Mexican star Navarrete (129.2 pounds), fighting at the heavier super featherweight division for the first time, only just snuck under the 130-pound, or 59kg, limit.
Wilson weighed himself again on the same scales less than an hour later, and had gone from 126.3 to 132.3 pounds. Wilson's manager Steve Scanlan told AAP on the morning of the fight that they were considering boycotting unless officials responded to their calls for an investigation.
Navarrete looked anything but trim on the scales in comparison to Wilson who according to the scales lost 3lb in 20-mins. A man unknown to Team Wilson was seen twice putting his hands on the scales… pic.twitter.com/drVQK6g5sS
— Boxing Waffle🥊🧇 (@BoxingWaffle) February 3, 2023
Top Rank boss Bob Arum dismissed the Aussie camp's concerns as "conspiracy theories", saying "this is Arizona, nobody f***s with the scales". He added: "Everyone else (on the card) made the weight for Christ's sake, there were no other aberrations...let me assure you the scales were accurate."
Scanlan said he wanted the fighters to be weighed again, claiming Navarrete shouldn't weigh any more than 66kg if he weighed-in legitimately. He said: "So if you've got nothing to hide, jump on the scales.
"If he's that much heavier than Liam it's an unfair advantage and Liam can get hurt. Boxing's dangerous, people die in the ring all the time. If something happens tonight, none of us are going to be able to sleep well at night, ever again."
Wilson made his feelings clear after the weigh-in, saying: "I think he (Navarrete) didn't make weight and they've tampered with the scales for sure. It doesn't make sense. I didn't lose four pounds in 20 minutes ... I have never been that light in the last 10 years.
"I was waiting in a room 10 metres away (after weighing in unofficially); in that time they must have realised he couldn't make the weight and they've tampered with it. It's pretty evident that it's happened."
The 26-year-old Wilson got his chance to fight Navarette after two-weight champion Oscar Valdez sustained an injury. The Aussie was catapulted from a world title eliminator bout straight into the big time in just his 13th professional fight.
"This is a meaningful fight to me. I respect the sport and believe he should," Wilson said ahead of his first fight outside of Australia.
"No, he shouldn't be (challenging for the title because he was over-weight). But it's easy for me to say. I'm not an official, but something happened on the scales."
— BoxHard Podcast 🥊 (@BoxHardPodcast) February 3, 2023
Could Liam Wilson be onto something with the scales. Check this video and concentrate on the guy back right. All the other fighters have weighed in, Liams next. The individual has some sort of conversation then appears to touch the scales. Is Navarrete over the SFW limit? pic.twitter.com/epzc4zPwVy
— David Corner - Undisputed Fight Talk (@Undisputed_Talk) February 3, 2023
— Adam Hodgkiss (@therambler99) February 3, 2023
— MATT (@matty_mccabe1) February 3, 2023
What a joke !
Spark him anyway .
— The Wangan express (@Wheninrome88) February 3, 2023
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