Emanuel Navarrete: Hardest part in Denys Berinchyk fight is his experience

Emanuel Navarrete faces Denys Berinchyk for vacant WBO lightweight title live on ESPN

Emanuel Navarrete goes up against Denys Berinchyk on Saturday, May 18 at Pechanga Arena in San Diego. Mexico’s three-division world champion and Olympic silver medalist of Ukraine battle it out for the vacant WBO lightweight title. At the pre-fight press conference, the athletes previewed their bout and went face to face.

Navarrete (38-1-1, 31 KOs) moves up a weight class. The 29-year-old native of San Juan Zitlaltepec looks to become a four-division world champion.

“Just having the opportunity to add a new title in a new division, it’s something that I never thought of,” Emanuel Navarrete. “It’s something that I never dreamed of. It’s something new and achieving it would fulfill a personal goal. It will enrich my personal achievements, and it will make me satisfied with what I’ve done in my career.”

“Each fight is different. Each opponent is different. Denys is an Olympian. He has a lot of experience in boxing. That’s the part we have to defeat. That’s the hardest part on Saturday.”

Emanuel Navarrete and Denys Berinchyk
Emanuel Navarrete and Denys Berinchyk at the press conference | Top Rank
Emanuel Navarrete and Denys Berinchyk
Emanuel Navarrete and Denys Berinchyk go face to face | Top Rank

“However, we always work the same. We always strengthen certain things that have been seen as weak in previous fights. But we always put a lot of energy into each training camp. We always have that mentality to work at 100 percent, and this camp wasn’t the exception. We worked hard, and Saturday will be a great fight night for all those watching at Pechanga Arena.”

Denys Berinchyk (18-0, 9 KOs) makes his U.S. debut. The 35-year-old native of Krasnodon, Luhansk Oblast makes his first attempt to become champion and looks to remain undefeated.

Denys Berinchyk
Denys Berinchyk | Top Rank

“I’m happy for Emanuel that he was the king in three divisions, but this is my division,” Denys Berinchyk said. “You will see a great, exciting fight on Saturday night.”

In the co-feature on the card, undefeated Giovani Santillan (32-0, 17 KOs) faces unbeaten Brian Norman Jr. (25-0, 19 KOs). San Diego’s 32-year-old southpaw and the 23-year-old native of Decatur, Georgia go head to head for the interim WBO welterweight belt.

Giovani Santillan
Giovani Santillan | Top Rank

“I’ve been looking forward to something like this happening ever since my first fight at Pechanga San Diego back in 2021,” Giovani Santillan said. “I’ve been saying that I want to bring world title fights for myself here in San Diego. Me being born and raised here, it’s an honor for this to happen. I’m excited. I just found out this morning [that the fight would be for the WBO Interim title]. I’m ready.”

“Business as usual, but I’ve had to earn my spot. It took me a lot of hard work, a lot of years to get here, and I’m planning on staying here and getting that world title Saturday night.

“[Returning home] means everything to me, especially after my last performance and now with being a world title fight, and for it to be here in my hometown so that my friends, family, and supporters have a chance to come see me live.”

“He’s a good fighter, and he knows everything that’s on the line. So, I know that with him being undefeated, I’m expecting a war this Saturday. I’m expecting a big fight. This is going to be a great fight for the fans for sure.”

“I’ve been training very hard for this. It has been a long camp. I knew about this date. I didn’t know who exactly I was going to be fighting, but I’ve known about this date since back in February. So, I’ve been in camp since then sparring hard. I’m as ready as can be for this fight.”

Giovani Santillan and Brian Norman Jr
Giovani Santillan and Brian Norman Jr | Top Rank

Brian Norman Jr said: “We’re in his hometown. Everything is against me in this fight. But once again, this is where I shine the best. I thrive off of negativity. I love this opportunity. I love this moment. I’m 23 years old. He’s pretty much 10 years older than me, so I’m supposed to be the baby in this situation, but best believe, we’re coming to throw down.”

“He’s number one, plain and simple. You saw what he did to Alexis Rocha to earn his spot, so I have to earn mine. He did his thing. Time for me to do mine.”

Also on the card, 24-year-old Richard Torrez Jr (9-0, 9 KOs) of Tulare, California takes on fellow-unbeaten 30-year-old Brandon Moore (14-0, 8 KOs) of Lakeland, Florida. The pair goes head to head in the eight-round bout at heavyweight.

Richard Torrez Jr
Richard Torrez Jr | Top Rank

“Growing up, I used to be a tall guy. I stopped growing in my freshman year of high school. I was 6’2 then, so I had to learn and adjust to the heavyweight division,” Richard Torrez Jr said. “In the amateurs, I fought a lot of really tall guys, and I’m kind of excited to have a taller opponent again. It’s pretty fun to be able to get inside, stay inside, and show what I can do.”

“Inside the ring, I’m a different beast. I like to think that my conditioning, tenacity, and the hard effort I put in are going to be something there. What my coaches used to say back in the day is that I like to take my opponents to hell and back, and that’s what I’m doing in this fight. So, I’m really excited to have a willing and able opponent. I know you. You want to go all out. You’re not one of those guys who is going to sit in the ring, so I’m really excited to see how this fight plays out.”

Richard Torrez Jr and Brandon Moore go face to face
Richard Torrez Jr and Brandon Moore go face to face | Top Rank

Brandon Moore said: “It’s about that time. A lot of people over here in San Diego don’t know who I am. In [Lakeland], Florida, I run the city over there. A lot of people are excited to see me be put on the big stage so I can put on a show for the people.”

“No disrespect to Richard, but he’s a southpaw that comes forward really, really hard. I think that I’ll be able to handle that with my skill level. We’re going to find out. He’s undefeated. I’m undefeated. This is one of our biggest fights.”

Emanuel Navarrete vs Denys Berinchyk undercard fighters
Emanuel Navarrete vs Denys Berinchyk undercard fighters | Top Rank

Among other Navarrete vs Berinchyk undercard bouts, Emiliano Vargas (9-0, 7 KOs) of Oxnard, California and Mexico’s Angel Varela Urena (10-2, 7 KOs) clash in the six-rounder at lightweight. In the eight-round bout at lightweight, Alan Garcia (12-0, 10 KOs) of Ulysses, Kansas meets Wilfredo Flores (10-2-1, 5 KOs) of Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Parviz Iskenderov
Parviz Iskenderov is a former Muay Thai fighter, sports manager and editor at FIGHTMAG.

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