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Navarrete-Berinchyk lightweight Title Showdown & Hometown Hero Giovani Santillan confirmed for May 18 in San Diego

Emanuel “El Vaquero” Navarrete hopes to join an elite circle of his Mexican countrymen, but he’ll have to venture into a new weight class against one of its top contenders.

Navarrete will take on Ukraine’s Denys Berinchyk for the vacant WBO lightweight world championship on Saturday, May 18 at Pechanga Arena San Diego. The fighting pride of San Juan Zitlaltepec will attempt to join Mexican-born warriors Erik Morales, Jorge Arce, Juan Manuel Marquez, Leo Santa Cruz, and Canelo Alvarez in becoming a four-weight world champion.

In the welterweight co-feature, San Diego’s Giovani Santillan, the WBO No. 1 contender, returns in front of the hometown fans against an opponent to be named.

Navarrete-Berinchyk and Santillan’s return will be broadcast LIVE on ESPN, ESPN Deportes & ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

Promoted by Top Rank, ticket information will be announced shortly.

“The San Diego boxing fans are passionate, and we are thrilled to be bringing Emanuel Navarrete back to Pechanga Arena as he bids to become a four-weight world champion,” said Top Rank Chairman Bob Arum.

“We are also excited to showcase San Diego’s hometown hero, Giovani Santillan, a wonderful young man who I believe will be a welterweight world champion before long.”

Navarrete (38-1-1, 31 KOs) captured his first world title by upsetting Isaac Dogboe for the WBO junior featherweight crown in December 2018. After five defences, he moved up to featherweight, where he handed Ruben Villa his first pro defeat to become a two-weight champion.

The 29-year-old defended his belt three times before climbing up to junior lightweight to stop Liam Wilson in the ninth round to secure the WBO strap. Navarrete made two defences in this third weight class, decisioning former two-division world champion Oscar Valdez in an all-Mexican showdown in August and dropping Brazilian Olympic gold medalist, Robson Conceição twice en route to a majority draw in November.

Navarrete said, “Capturing a world title is a unique challenge, but the possibility of doing it four weight classes is a goal that fills me with motivation and gratitude. It will be an honor to join that select group of Mexican warriors who have made their mark in boxing history. And to be able to do it in front of fans in San Diego and from Tijuana will be an unforgettable experience. Feeling their support and energy in the ring will propel me to do my best and secure this victory for Mexico.”

Berinchyk (18-0, 9 KOs), a 2012 Olympic silver medalist on the same team as Vasiliy Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk, began his professional career in 2015. Berinchyk overcame stiff tests on his ascent up the lightweight ladder. In 2021, he vanquished Jose Sanchez via third-round TKO in March and decisioned Isa Chaniev across 12 rounds in December.

After a one-year break, he defeated Yvan Mendy to win European honors. He followed up the Mendy win last August with a convincing decision over former world title challenger Anthony Yigit in Poland. The 35-year-old will have his first world title opportunity as he makes his U.S. debut.

Santillan (32-0, 17 KOs), who turned pro in May 2012, has steadily ascended the welterweight rankings. In 2022, he stopped Jeovanis Barraza in the seventh round before making his second Pechanga Arena appearance by giving Julio Luna his first pro loss on the undercard of Navarrete’s featherweight title defense against Eduardo Baez.

He returned in July 2023 to best Erick Bone via 10-round decision. In his last outing, he stunned the boxing world with a one-sided, six-round demolition of number one contender Alexis Rocha at Kia Forum in Los Angeles. Santillan is on the precipice of becoming the second San Diego-born world champion, following Paul Vaden, who captured the IBF junior middleweight world title in 1995.

“After my last win, I’m excited to keep the ball rolling. I showed everyone what I could do and earned the WBO No. 1 ranking. I am looking forward to continuing with those types of performances and showing why I deserve a title shot,” Santillan said. “I want to gain more fans in San Diego, grow the fan base in my hometown, and pave the way for other fighters from my city. There hasn’t been a San Diego-born champion in a long time, and I want to be the next one.”

Credit: Top Rank Boxing 

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