Acuña edges O’Connell, Bermudez and Benavidez fight to a draw in rematch
By Diego Morilla
Two of Argentina’s best female fighters saw action this weekend, and they both had to work hard to hold on to their respective world titles in a pair of action-packed, exciting bouts.
On Friday, June 16th, Acuña, the country’s very first female fighter to hold a boxing license and who is still fighting at the age of 40, had to put all of her experience on display to defeat Australia’s Shannon ‘Shotgun’ O’Connell (15-5-1), at the C.E.D.E.M. No. 2 in the town of Caseros and thus hold on to her IBF super bantamweight title.
Acuña (46-6-1, 19 KO) was pushed to the limit in several rounds against O’Connell, a 34-year-old native of Brisbane, who complicated the champion’s game plan with her mobility and extraordinary athleticism. In fact, after a superb first round won by the visitor, Acuña understood immediately that the task at hand would require of every bit of ring savvy available to her.
From that point on, Acuña took control of the action for the next four rounds, scoring with power whenever O’Connell gave her the opportunity to counterpunch. In the fifth round, Acuña’s best moment of the fight was slightly marred by an accidental head butt that created a huge lump on the left side of O’Connell’s face. O’Connell responded by winning the next round with a spirited comeback, and came dangerously close of winning the next two as well with a series of well-timed combinations and a momentary switch to southpaw that befuddled the champ.
O’Connell returned the nicety in the ninth when she managed to open a small cut on Acuña’s left eyebrow, but it was too little too late as the local hero and female boxing pioneer cruised to victory in the championship rounds to score a unanimous decision with scorecards of 97-93 (in coincidence with The Prizefighters) and two excessive scores of 99-91.
Earlier in the night, a stay-busy fight didn’t pan out as planned for Argentine super featherweight champ Brenda Carabajal (11-3-1, 8 KO) when her battle-hardened foe Gloria “India” Yancaqueo (3-8-3) suddenly came alive to turn the scheduled six-rounder into an interesting affair.
Yancaqueo moved in almost immediately on the much taller and experienced Carabajal, swinging wildly but landing quite often to keep the scorecards close. A hard-fought last round made things even harder for the judges, especially since they had to deal with the already annoying half -point rule. The scorecards read 57.5-57.5, 59-57 for Carabajal and 58-58.5 for Yancaqueo for a draw that slightly derails Carabajal’s plans of moving on to bigger and better things.
Bermudez and Benavidez fight to a draw in an instant classic
On Saturday, a tough fight was expected in the rematch between two exciting young fighters, and that’s exactly what was seen in the town of Arroyo Seco, where WBO super flyweight champ Daniela “Bonita” Bermudez (21-3-3, 6 KO) made the fourth defense of her belt by holding former foe and national team member Paola Benavidez (7-2-2) to a draw in an extraordinary rematch of their highly disputed, non-title eight-rounder back on May 7, 2016, won by Bermudez.
The judges had awarded an undeservedly ample victory to Bermudez back then, but they had a much tougher time now. Benavidez stormed out of the gates landing at will from all angles and owning the ring for the first round. In the second, the champ made the unusual decision of switching to southpaw in order to mimic her opponent’s stance, and she continued this for the reminder of the bout. As crazy as it may sound, the tactic paid off for Bermudez, who thus negated Benavidez’s advantages in speed and mobility by overwhelming her with power punches from all angles – and from a stance for which Benavidez wasn’t ready.
The extraordinary fourth round was the highlight of the bout, and it would only be topped by a fantastic 10th and last round in which Bermudez, bleeding from a cut from the sixth round on and hurt in her pride as she was sensing the possibility of a humiliating defeat in front of her local crowd, surged to score with power and precision against an increasingly mobile Benavidez, who failed to connect at the same rate of the earlier rounds and paid the ultimate price of allowing her title bout to slip away from her fingertips.
One scorecard read 95-95, and the other two read 96-94, one for each of the combatants, who are now headed to an inevitable third bout that, in spite of Bermudez’s advantage in the aggregate, will definitely have the feeling of a rubber match. The Prizefighters had it 96-94 for Bermudez.
Earlier in the night, Bermudez’s younger sister Evelin had no problems improving to 4-0 (1 KO) when she scored a unanimous decision against debutant Marianela Ramírez in a flyweight bout by scorecards of 40-37 across the board.