Giovani Santillan, a boxer from Mira Mesa, fights at Pechanga Arena Friday. Photo credit: Carlos Sanchez, on @Giovan1Santillan, via Instagram

Champion Emanuel Navarrete faces WBO World title mandatory challenger Joet Gonzalez Friday for the featherweight title in San Diego.

The 12-round fight, from Pechanga Arena on the Midway, streams live on ESPN+ at approximately 8:30 p.m. The evening of fights begins at 5:30 p.m.

In addition to the championship bout, San Diego native Giovani Santillan, 29, (27-0, 15 KOs) will make his first appearance locally since 2014 against Angel “Relampago” Ruiz (17-1, 12 KOs), a 24-year-old southpaw from Culiacán.

“I can’t wait for Oct. 15,” Santillan, of Mira Mesa, told RingTV.com. “I’m going to perform for my family, my friends and my city. This is an incredible opportunity.”

Navarrete (34-1, 29 KOs) is 8-0 with six knockouts in title fights, a championship run that began in December 2018 with his decision over Isaac Dogboe to win the WBO junior featherweight world title.

Following five title defenses in nine months, Navarrete, 26, from Mexico City, moved up to featherweight and bested Ruben Villa by unanimous decision in October 2020 to win the WBO world title. He defended that title in April, knocking out Christopher Diaz in the 12th round. 

Navarrete said he respects Gonzalez, but added “I am the champion, and I will show him why. This belt isn’t going anywhere.”

Gonzalez (24-1, 14 KOs) was last seen in the ring defeating three-time world title challenger Miguel Marriaga at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Sept. 12, 2020.

The victory earned Gonzalez, 28, from the Los Angeles area, the WBO International Featherweight Title and the WBO’s No. 1 featherweight ranking.

Gonzalez’ first title opportunity came in October 2019, in a battle against fellow unbeaten featherweight Shakur Stevenson for the then vacant world championship. He lost by unanimous decision.

He called himself “excited and thankful” to receive another title shot.

“No disrespect to Navarrete, but this is my time,” Gonzalez said. 

Early bouts on tap for the evening:

  • Middleweight prospect Javier “Milwaukee Made” Martinez (4-0, 2 KOs) meets undefeated 2016 Mexican Olympian Lindolfo Delgado (13-0, 12 KOs) in an eight-round junior welterweight fight.
  • An eight-round junior lightweight battle between rising Puerto Rican prospect Henry “Moncho” Lebron (13-0, 9 KOs) and Manuel Rey Rojas (21-5, 6 KOs).

Tickets remain available, starting at $55.

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