Chavez-Moreno 3: Expectations of War
By Felipe Leon
In the history of the sport there might not be a more exciting fight than the rubber match in a hard fought trilogy. On Saturday night, September 30th, from Ecatepec, Mexico, we might just see that ten-fold.
Facing each other in the final of the WBC female flyweight tournament that began last year will be the protagonists of the 2016 Female Fight of the Year, current WBC 112-pound champion Jessica “Kika” Chavez (29-4-3, 4KOs) of nearby Mexico City and her well-known foe Esmeralda “Joya” Moreno (35-9-1, 11Kos) also of Mexico City. The scheduled 10-round bout will be televised live in Mexico by Televisa.
Two Mexican warriors. One Diamond belt. No love lost between the two. It has all the markings for an instant classic.
“Jessica is a great fighter who works her jab very well and is going to make me work for the win,” Moreno said of her next opponent. “I am motivated and ready for the rematch but especially to leave with the Diamond belt. I owe it to my fans, my team and especially to my daughter, my biggest motivation.”
Chavez was also very respectful of her next opponent at a recent press conference to promote the final.
“I am convinced this fight will not be a brawl but more of style and Esmeralda’s aggression will mark the rhythm of the fight. My physical and mental preparation will give me the win. I am a woman of challenges and this one without a doubt is one of the biggest ones of my life. I am motivated and happy and that is why I am convinced I am going to take the WBC Diamond belt home.”
They first met back in February of 2011 for the vacant WBC Silver light flyweight title. Moreno, the more experienced of the two, took a dominating unanimous decision with scores of 98-92 three times. By that time Chavez had already fought for a world title against Yessica Bopp and had suffered her first loss against Ibeth “Roca” Zamora so she just chalked it up to a learning experience.
Chavez went back to the drawing board following the instruction of her famed trainer Nacho Beristain and captured the IBF 108-pound title in her very next fight over fellow Mexican Irma Sanchez, defended the title three times before capturing the WBC Silver light flyweight strap against Sanchez again in 2013. She finally got her chance to challenge for the full-fledged belt and avenge her first loss as a pro against Zamora in late 2014 but came up short via a unanimous decision.
In September of 2015 Chavez moved up to flyweight and promptly dethroned the current WBC champ Arely Mucino with a lopsided unanimous win and has defended her title five times making her one of the more solid Mexican female fighters on the scene.
Moreno, since her first win over Chavez, defended her WBC Silver title seven times but then took a hiatus from the sport when she became a mother. She fought only once in 2013 and didn’t make a full-fledged comeback until 2014. She challenged Ibeth Zamora for the green and gold strap in 2015 but fell short via a unanimous decision.
Her best year to date was 2016 when she traveled to Austria and as the out-of-town underdog, defeated the favorite Eva Voraberger in Austria, and three months later fought Chavez in their rematch.
Their second meeting was back in July of last year in Cancun where the defending champion “Kika” squeaked by with a majority decision over the unrelenting “Joya”. It was an all-out war from bell to bell as Moreno, the aggressor, became the shadow of Chavez pursuing her around the wing with her non-stop attack.
Chavez was not shaken by the constant attack of Moreno and with her jab was able to establish enough room to let go of three and sometimes four punch combinations which gave her the majority of the rounds in the first half. Moreno began to catch up in the second half as Chavez seemed to tire some and an accidental head butt in the seventh opened up a cut on the bridge of her nose which didn’t help either.
Moreno kept pushing until the final bell but Chavez did enough early on to take the win with close scores of 97-93, 96-95 and an even 95-95.
After the bout Moreno was not satisfied with the decision and went on an all-out campaign to get the immediate rematch.
“I think it was completely unfair the scorecard of 97-93, what fight did that judge see?,” Moreno asked during a press conference the following week after the fight. “I know I won the fight, the whole world saw it. I just don’t want to be the people’s champ, I want the belt that marks me as a world champion and that is why I am petitioning for the rematch.”
Throughout Moreno’s claims, Chavez for the most part let the green and gold belt around her waist prove who was still the champion.
Back in January of 2016, the president of the WBC Mauricio Sulaiman announced a tournament focused on the 112-pound female division with the winner taking home the coveted Diamond belt. After some false starts and stalling, the tournament got under way in late 2016.
In the first round Moreno faced former two-time flyweight world champion Melissa McMorrow beating her via a unanimous decision and in April of this year Moreno beat Ibeth Zamora for the WBC light flyweight title via split decision. Despite the bout being held one weight class lower, the WBC still counted it as part of the tourney.
Chavez for her part scored a unanimous decision over the tough Naoko Fujioka of Japan in the first round of the tournament, and in the second, she defeated veteran Ana Arrazola in May to find her way in the finals again ready to face who many consider her arch nemesis.