Marcela Acuña faces Yesica Marcos with more than revenge in sight
By Diego Morilla
BUENOS AIRES – This week, the legendary Bernard Hopkins will finally retire at age 51, stretching his career to an unprecedented 28 years, but he may have some serious competition in the female counterpart of his line of work if Argentine boxing pioneer
Marcela Acuña manages to defeat Yesica Marcos in a rematch this coming Friday with the vacant IBF super bantamweight title on the line and then continues to do what she has done so far: continue challenging stereotypes and finding new challenges in boxing.
Acuña’s motivations to continue fighting at the age of 40 are not hard to find.
“Fights like this one,” she quips, when asked about what keeps her going after so many years. “I motivate myself, and what motivates me the most is a challenge. And what better challenge at this stage in my career than to face Yesica Marcos again? The only way in which I can keep going after all of these years, after all of these titles and achievements, is to stay motivated with fights like this one.”
Acuña (44-6-1, 18 KO) fought Marcos to a dubious (more like a scandalously unfair) draw back in January of 2013, but true to her nature as Argentine female boxing’s elder stateswoman, she never held a grudge towards the still (technically) unbeaten Marcos (27-0-2, 9 KO), a wildly popular fighter in her native Mendoza, a hotbed of boxing in the country. In fact, they appeared to be enjoying themselves during the weigh-in, in which it was hard to tell who was the older of the two given their spectacular shape.
Acuña’s age, though, showed in her face, in the sleepless, pale tone of her skin, and for a good reason.
“There are a lot of expectations because Ramon has never been away from my corner, especially in such an important fight,” said Acuña, about the absence of her husband and trainer Ramon Chaparro, who was hospitalized on Tuesday with signs of food poisoning. “But anyway, we’re professionals and we have a great team for a lot of years. And naturally, his presence will be felt more than his absence.”
Chaparro’s presence, however, was visible during Acuña’s two victories this year (both unanimous decision wins over Mayra Gómez and Brenda Carabajal, and his tireless dedication will likely show during Friday’s bout.
“I will do my usual plan, I will try to demonstrate that I am technically superior, and to try to counteract with her strengths, which is her aggression and her right hands, especially those crosses and uppercuts she throws so well,” said Acuña, who in spite of all of her previous achievements will be fighting for an IBF title belt for the first time in her career. “I will try to respond to that. I have worked a lot on my speed too. You know how it is, you can make a lot of plans in the gym but then in the ring some things happen and others don’t. The idea is to have all of those things work.”
Things do not always work as expected for Acuña. After chaining herself to the door of the local federation in order to get her license (which ended up being the very first ever issued for a female professional prizefighter in the country), Acuña got more than what she bargained for when she was matched with no less than female boxing’s first superstar in Christy Martin in her very debut, only to follow up with a loss at the hands of the fearsome Lucia Rijker. Just like Hopkins, Acuña began her career with a loss – and then some.
For all of that, no one can claim that she took the easy road, ever. But at the age of 40, staying motivated should be hard enough for anyone. But not for Acuña, who still exudes enthusiasm in every word that she speaks about boxing, with the loquacity of a true ambassador of the sport.
“It’s pretty hard, because I can only challenge myself right now,” said Acuña about what keeps her going for more after 23 title fights in 51 career bouts. “I challenge the very passing of time. I challenge my younger opponents. This is not the case with Yesica, because against her I have a different motivation, like the rematch after such a controversial result and the challenge of facing a superbly fit fighter like her. But to continue in this is to challenge myself to keep doing it every day.”
Already considered as “Lady Firpo” for holding the license number 001 in her field just like the Wild Bull of the Pampas did it in his time, Acuña has her work cut out for her if she is serious about becoming “Lady Hopkins” one day.
But as time has proven, it would be unwise to count her out in that fight just yet.
Marcos: “I added a new country to my fan base”
After years of being a prophet in her own land, Yesica Marcos is on a quest to become a prophet in her other land.
After years of fighting in front of huge adoring crowds in her hometown of San Martin, in the boxing-crazy province of Mendoza, the former WBO-WBA gears up for a potential career-defining fight against Acuña with a new audience in mind as well.
“I am ready for tomorrow. I have prepared well and consciously. I remember that the first fight was a great fight and today we’re going to have another great fight too,” said Marcos, who now fights out of Santiago, Chile, under the orders of Claudio Pardo.
“I know that I still have the support of all my people in Mendoza, and now in Chile, where I live,” said Marcos, whose father is Chilean. “I added a new country to my fan base, because they support me fully. My heart is on both sides of the Andes.”
Marcos is still unbeaten, but her draw against Acuña is the biggest asterisk in an otherwise very strong resume, and she probably has some adjustments in mind to get the nod this time. But true to her laconic nature, she politely refuses to reveal her plans.
“After the fight I could tell you what I did differently,” smirks the 30-years old Marcos. But right now I am just waiting anxiously the fight. Whatever comes, I will be ready.”
In the undercard, the always entertaining Paola Benavidez (6-2-1) will be facing the feisty Cintia Gonzalez (3-3) in a scheduled six-rounder.
The card will be televised by TyC Sports and TyC Sports Play online.