Yazmin Rivas: “I Want To Be the Best So I Have To Fight the Best”
A historic female bout will take place on Saturday, January 14th, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Amanda “The Real Deal” Serrano (30-1-1, 23KO) of Puerto Rico will defend her WBO super bantamweight title against former WBC bantamweight champion Yazmin “Rusita” Rivas (35-9-1, 10KO) of Mexico in a scheduled 10-rounder on the undercard of the Badou Jack vs James DeGale WBC and IBF super middleweight unification clash.
It’s historic because the contest will be broadcast live on Showtime Extreme paving the way for a new era in female boxing on U.S. airwaves.
Also, it was recently announced the WBC Diamond belt will also be on the line.
“The fact the fight is on TV in the United States which is something pretty big I am told is motivation for me,” Rivas said recently exclusively to ThePrizefighters.com from her home in Gomez Palacio, Durango, Mexico. “I am sure the mixture of our styles will make for a great fight for television.”
Although it is a historic event in the United States for female boxing to be featured prominently on a major network such as Showtime, it is nothing new for the 28-year-old Rivas, a single mother of a seven-year-old little girl, since she has been the main event in Mexico on the Azteca network numerous times in a 15 year professional career which began at the tender age of 13.
“One of my older brothers boxed, unfortunately, he had to stop because of a detached retina but I wanted to be a boxer since I was eight,” Rivas explained. “I didn’t actually begin training until 11 and had my first professional fight at 13 without an amateur fight. Back then there wasn’t any female boxing so when the opponent fell out for the girl that I fought, they asked me to fill-in. My family thought I would get beat and forget about boxing.”
Rivas won that first fight 30 seconds into the first round.
At first her parents weren’t too keen on the idea of their youngest daughter getting punched in the face for money despite signing the waiver to allow her fight as a professional at such an early age. Once they realized how determined she was to fight, they relented.
“They are very supportive of my career and of me. They along with my older sister help me with my daughter.”
After that first fight back in 2001, Rivas set sail on an impressive career with numerous world titles. Wins over some of the biggest names of her divisions and losses she mentions taught her important lessons.
“I’ve learned something from each one of my fights, my wins and my losses,” Rivas stated. “Those experiences have made me the fighter I am today.”
In only her 11th pro fight and barely 17-years-old Rivas captured her first world title with a unanimous decision over Lucia Avalos for the WBA super flyweight title. Later that year she went after the WBC 118lb title but came up short in North Korea against Kwang Ok Kim and again in ’07 against the legendary Marcela “Tigresa” Acuña for the WBA super bantamweight title. Two fights later she came up short again but in Germany against the undefeated Ina Menzer for the WIBF featherweight title and in ’08 dropped yet another decision to the Jackie Nava, the last one for the interim WBC 122lb title. In 2010 she dropped a unanimous decision to current WBC 115lb champion Zulina Muñoz in a bid for the vacant WBC Youth bantamweight title.
Her luck turned for the better after capturing the vacant NABF flyweight title over Gabriela Gonzalez in the summer of July of 2011 and then defeating the previously undefeated Susie Ramadan via a split decision for the vacant IBF 118lb title. She defended the title against the tough Edith Matthysse in her next fight and four more times with wins over Nydia Feliciano, Mayerlin Rivas, Maria Elena Villalobos and Kimika Miyoshi.
In early 2014 she beat Calixta Silgado to capture the vacant WBC Silver bantamweight title and then turned it into the full-fledged version with a unanimous decision over Alesia Graf. She defended that title four times with another win over Susie Ramadan, Celina Salazar, Simone Da Silva Duarte and Kandy Sandoval.
“I’ve had a number of tough fights, Matthysse is a very tough fighter, comes forward, has a good punch,” Rivas said of her pasts fights. “Ramadan has great boxing technique, previously undefeated but my proudest moment so far has been the win over Alesia Graf. I had everything against me, fighting in her hometown; she has a good style. That has been my best win in my opinion.”
In early 2016 at the second annual WBC female convention Rivas dropped her title in an upset to Catherine Phiri via sixth round technical decision due to a ghastly cut suffered by Rivas due to an accidental head butt.
“I am fighter who needs a couple of rounds to warm up. I start off slow and then get stronger in the second half of the fight. I feel I only lost the second round of that fight. I don’t think it was a good stoppage. I still have that thorn on my side. I asked for the immediate rematch and Mauricio Sulaiman [president of the WBC] told me they would give it to me. He told me that later that night at the hotel after the fight. He told me they didn’t like the way the fight was stopped. Phiri has defended the title since then. If given the opportunity I want the rematch.”
In hopes of forcing Phiri to the rematch Rivas went after the interim WBC 118lb pound title against Ana Maria Lozano in her next fight but was awarded a draw. So after her last fight, she decided to move up the four pounds north to the super bantamweight division. She captured the vacant WBC International 122lb belt avenging an earlier loss to fellow Mexican Jessica Gonzalez with a split decision last August.
Despite facing a number of elite fighters throughout her 15 year career, in the southpaw Amanda Serrano she might be facing the toughest opponent so far. In 2016 Serrano put together a banner year fighting four times while capturing two world titles in as many divisions. She began the year by taking the vacant WBO 126lb title with a first round knockout of Olivia Gerula. She defended it in July with another first round knockout this time over Calixta Silgado and during the WBO annual convention in October she captured the vacant super bantamweight title with yet another first round knockout. The victim was Alexandra Lazar.
“She is a strong a fighter with great skills,” Rivas said of her next opponent. “I am going in as the underdog, fighting in her hometown of New York. She was born in Puerto Rico but she lives in New York. The judges are from New York. My brother and trainer because of visa problems cannot attend with me but I am motivated. All that motivates me,” said Rivas. “We have studied her very well. 2016 was not my year and I am looking to turn that around by becoming a world champion at 122 pound. I have to win by knockout because I am not going to get the decision.”
The fight will be yet another chapter of the great Mexico vs Puerto Rico rivalry but with a new twist since it is not often you see two women representing those countries inside a ring against each other.
“This is not going to be the exception. It is going to be a great fight, a war like those that came before in this rivalry and since Mexico has won most of them, I don’t expect a different outcome than me winning the title,” she said.
Rivas knows the odds are against her but she feels she holds the ace in the hole.
“My experience is my best weapon, I have been fighting for a long time,” Rivas said confidently. “I have gone and beaten fighters in their hometowns. I am very motivated, I am ready to leave everything in the ring that night, not leave anything for the next day. I want to prove why I am challenging for a world title on such a big stage and on such a historic occasion for female boxing in the United States. I deserve to be there, it motivates me.”