Aussie boxer Liam Wilson has vowed to return bigger and better after declaring he was 'robbed' by a referee who gave Emanuel Navarrete 27 seconds to recover from a fourth-round knockdown in their world title fight. Navarrete stopped Wilson in the ninth round of Friday's fight, scoring a TKO victory over the Aussie underdog.
However controversy erupted in the aftermath of the fight after referee Chris Flores allowed Navarrete to continue when he suffered the first knockdown of his entire career. Wilson sent his Mexican opponent crashing to the canvas with a powerful combination, leaving Navarrete absolutely reeling.
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But the referee declared Navarrete fit to keep fighting, and he lasted long enough for the bell to ring to signal the end of the round. That allowed Navarrete to recover, and he eventually proved too strong for Wilson.
But Wilson was among a raft of boxing fans to cry foul after the bout, complaining that the referee gave Navarrete way too much time after the knockdown. The Mexican appeared to spit his mouthguard out in a tactical ploy to buy more time, with the referee bending down to pick it up off the canvas for him.
While referees would normally hand the mouthpiece to a boxer's corner, Flores made the unusual move of putting it back in Navarrete's mouth for him. Wilson also thought the ref started his 10-count way too late.
"I feel shattered," he said through tears after the fight. "This has been a dream of mine since I was a kid and I've come up short. If it's true that it was 27 seconds, definitely (I was) robbed. That's robbery. But I'm just a fighter; if my hand didn't get raised, I lost."
Wilson's promoter Matt Rose of No Limit later lodged a protest, explaining that he hopes a no-contest is called after a review of the footage and how long the referee gave Navarrete. "He was robbed, definitely, he was robbed," Rose said.
"Liam should be a world champion. The count was long in that fourth round, everyone knows it was long. Top Rank, their own promoters, said the count was long. I hope the (Arizona State Boxing) Commission look at it the way everyone else saw it and they overturn the result to a No Contest so Liam gets another crack straight away."
Liam Wilson vows to return bigger and better
Speaking one day later, Wilson said he will eventually move on from the agonising loss, demanding only the "big fights" as he moves forward. "He was wobbly after he got up, but it shouldn't have got to there," he said.
"I can put it behind me so long as the whole world knows that. And the people who witnessed it know that. That stuff (footage) doesn't lie."
Rose said another world title shot - this time in Queensland - was still the team's goal. "It was an unbelievable performance," he said.
"He really showed he is world-class. Navarrete is a three-division world champion and no one gave him a chance. He still shocked the world.
"Liam is a warrior, he is the type of fighter people love to watch and support. We go back, put him on the big stage in Australia and show Australia we've got a little champion that's worth following. Not many fighters around the world fight like he does."
— Paul (@ardmorelad) 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
Wow this ref in Liam Wilson fight is a disgrace ..should be over!! #NavarreteWilson
— Nonchaser (@LukeyT10222249) February 4, 2023
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