Yesica “Tuti” Bopp faces Luna Torroba, but aims for bigger stars
By Diego Morilla
There are plenty of achievements accumulated, and they keep on coming. But the pioneer of Argentina’s amateur boxing and multiple world champion Yesica Bopp does not rest on her laurels, and she is coming for more.
This Saturday, April 22nd, she will attempt to defend her WBA mini-flyweight title against Luna Torroba in the town of Azul, but the explosive “Tuti” already has her sight on stars that are much farther away and that, so far, have proven elusive to her.
“I always have plans for the short, medium and long term, and the ones in the short term bin are coming along nicely,” said Bopp (30-1-0, 12 KO), in a telephone interview after a brief training session two days before facing the Colombian-born Torroba (11-5-2, 2 KO). “The other ones I am handling as they come. But I try to get organized and not allow anything to throw me off.”
Lack of proper organization is not a part of Bopp’s regimen. She has always been in extraordinary physical shape, and she even claims to be almost a full pound under the contracted weight for this bout. Her very few episodes of disarray have been due to the ups and downs of her career, which lately has suffered a series of delays, cancelations and unexpected pauses.
“I had reserved this date to fight in Peru, but with this weather thing going on (Note: recent floods and mud slides), the fight in Peru was cancelled, and (manager Osvaldo) Rivero was able to get me this other place to fight and not lose the date, because I was already in training. I was supposed to have a different opponent in Peru, but now they got Torroba,” said Bopp, who at 33 seems to have a lot to give yet.
And she will need all the time she can get if she wants to make the fights that she has always wanted and the circumstances have not allowed her to carry out.
“I’d love to face Susi Kentikian, I’ve been following her for a while,” she says, pointing once again at her long list of unfulfilled wishes, “but she’s doing something else, I think she’s part of a reality show in her country and she’s not sure whether she’ll fight again. This plays against me because she was my big hope for a big fight, and she’s retiring. I would love to have a third fight against Jessica Chavez, a rubber match in a neutral country because we have one victory each. And there are plenty of opponents in Mexico, which is a superpower. There are a lot of fighters in my division, more than in any other country. I would love to fight there against anybody, because there are no big fighters to make big fights, and this is a disadvantage for me.”
The absence of good opposition has been a constant situation in Bopp’s career. She emerged from the amateur ranks as one of the most accomplished fighters of her generation, with three Pan American titles and two world championship podiums before going pro in 2008. But against Torroba she’ll be facing a foe that never backs down anywhere, and who will surely bring on the heat for every second of every two-minute episode of this scheduled 10-rounder.
“I know she is a tough opponent, I got ready for that”, said Bopp about Torroba, a native of Cali now living in Argentina, who has survived bouts against Alejandra Morales, Maria “Chiqui” Rivera and Anahí López among others. “I sparred with Marcela Acuña for this one, because I know that Torroba fought Deborah Dionicius and took her the full ten rounds. We are going to be well prepared for ten rounds – or more.”
Just as her role of pioneer in the amateur ranks has forged her initial path, Bopp understands that the level of the current crop of Olympic female boxing is setting a different pace in the development of the sport on a worldwide stage, and she sees fighters as Claressa Shields, Katie Taylor and others a big boost in the future of the sport.
“I know that their jump to professionalism will help female boxing to evolve greatly. I am hopeful,” she says, setting her sights in one particular former Olympian.
“There’s this girl that signed with Oscar de la Hoya, who is in my same category. Her name is Marlen Esparza. We already fought in Ecuador and I beat her in the finals,” says Bopp, reminiscing about her moment under the spotlight with Golden Boy’s future star. “And I would love to face her as a pro. We were in the ring once already, and it would be great to do it again.”
Probably, many years will go by before this fight takes place, and the motivation will be difficult to maintain. But Bopp’s investment is on the long run, and if she has waited this much it is hard to imagine that she will not do it again until the stars align for her once again.
“Yes, it’s complicated. And I get discouraged sometimes because I am asking myself all the time ‘who am I going to fight next?.’ It is discouraging to not have a strong name worth waiting for”, said Bopp, who suddenly feels emboldened when thinking about the imminent fight that her close friend Erica Farias will have against the pound-for-pound queen in Cecilia Braekhus.
For a challenge like that one, says Bopp, any sacrifice would be worthwhile.
“I already did it against Daniela Bermudez, and I won,” she recalls, mentioning the two occasions in which she added the necessary poundage to her tiny body in order to seek the challenges that her own division denied her. “If it’s worth the risk and it motivates me, I will do it.”