Erica Farias outhustles Marisa Nuñez in a clinch-fest
SAN FERNANDO, Argentina.- In a dull fight marred by excessive holding, local icon Erica “La Pantera” Farias successfully defended her WBC super lightweight belt against Marisa Nuñez with a unanimous decision on Saturday night.
Both fighters passed each other numerous times on the down slope towards the prize of most unwilling combatant of the night. In the early going, Farias (24-1, 10 KO) allowed the limited but tough Nuñez to surge and score a few shots inside, but the action was never clean.
Farias took much more clear control of the action starting on the third round, even though she was forced to forego her jab due to Nuñez’s rough tactics that allowed no room for her to maneuver.
Amidst the rain of wild volleys and occasional clean hooks from Farias, the increasingly desperate Nuñez (7-7, 2 KO) responded with even more rough tactics in a fight that was becoming more and more difficult to score due to the excessive holding.
The frustration permeated from the ring and spilled onto the stands, where an audience of over 2000 people – who had been granted access for free – started to rehearse a few isolated boos. Farias sensed the discontent and stepped up the pace to get the job done early, but Nuñez turned in her worst performance of the night in the unbearable final rounds, where she simply jumped at Farias head-first with no real intention of scoring properly and cleanly.
In the tenth and final round, Farias turned in her best moments of the bout with a salvo of clean shots that had Nuñez on the retreat all over the ring, scoring with both hands and clearly cementing a win that sent Nuñez’s record to .500 territory.
The scorecards read 98-92 and 97-93 (twice) for Farias, who now has two victories in a row in 2016 after a long period of inactivity and hopes for a stellar run in 2017 that may include a mandatory defense of her title abroad and a potential mega-fight with Cecilia Braekhus.
“I knew it was not going to be an easy fight because the way Marisa fights every time she gets up there in the ring,” said Farias.” She is a fighter who leaves everything up there and comes to win. I spent some time rearranging my tactics, finding myself once again in the ring, and that was the fight I wanted: a fight that I could use to return back to my previous form.”
Nuñez’s tactics may have derailed her plans to show off her progress, but Farias insists that she felt much better in the ring than in her previous outing.
“I never thought she was going to clinch so much, based on what I saw in her fight with (Celeste) Peralta,” said Farias. “My boxing style is different. That style sometimes takes my opponents out of their comfort zone and then the friction starts, and then they start muddying the waters. It happens to me sometimes. (Nuñez) wanted to fight but she couldn’t figure me out, and she started head-butting me and holding. But the lesson I learned is that I was pushed hard and I had to dig deep to win, and I did it.”
“It wasn’t like in the (previous) fight with (Victoria) Bustos, where I really couldn’t see anything positive. I still don’t see myself at 100% like at other times, but for this reason is that I want more activity to get ready for what’s coming. If I have to face Braekhus I will have to get a few more fights in before I take on her,” said Farias, who has been involved in 16 title bouts in 25 career fights. “I need to work more on my combinations. I have to stand my ground and work the body a little bit more. I knew I had to box her from a distance, but I think I could have gone more to the body too. I have to work on that more in the gym. I do a great job on that in the gym but I can’t find a way to translate that into the fight.”
After her 2-0 in 2016, Farias aims for a 3-0 in 2017 capped by a bout with the arguable pound-for-pound queen of the sport.
“I believe I will have my mandatory fight, I will keep adding new things, looking for more quality in my sparring to add more depth to my arsenal, look for different options, different styles. And then I’ll wait for that big fight, the one I want with Cecilia Braekhus, and I don’t think I am too far from that. I can almost smell it right now, that’s how close I feel she is,” said Farias. “She is feeling the pressure, I have her on the ropes right now. And if I am well trained I know I can beat her.”
Nuñez, a limited but tough opponent who survived fights against tough customers such as Ana Laura Esteche and Victoria Bustos, had briefly held the IBF super lightweight title after defeating a faded Monica Bustos back in 2014, in the best performance of her career. She later lost the belt to Celeste Peralta.
Earlier in the night, promising former national team member and rising flyweight contender Andrea “Cobrita” Sánchez (5-0-1, 1 KO) ruined the debut of the also 26-year old newcomer Jazmin Villarino (0-1-0) with a unanimous decision win by scorecards of 38½-38½, 39-37½ and 39-37.
(Photos by Ramon Cairo)