Fighting For a Chance: Zamora vs. Millan &
Yazmin Rivas vs. Larios
By Felipe Leon
While the big news in female boxing in the United States is the upswing the sport has received especially on American television, in Mexico it has been business as usual with women bouts usually being the main event.
Just last week Azteca channel broadcast Irma “Guerita” Sanchez’s return to the world stage as she captured the interim WBA flyweight with a highly controversial split decision over Brenda Ramos while Televisa announced the return of the current queen of Mexican female boxing Mariana ”Barby” Juarez as she defends her WBC bantamweight title against veteran Alesia Graf.
Both major Mexican networks will compete this weekend with two very interesting fights for different reasons.
On Televisa long-reigning WBC light flyweight champion Ibeth “Roca” Zamora (27-6, 12KO) will venture up to the flyweight division and face the tough but limited Isabel “Estrella” Millan (19-3-1, 8KO) in a 10 round eliminator to become the mandatory challenger for the WBC flyweight champion Jessica “Kika” Chavez.
On the Azteca channel, also this Saturday, former WBC bantamweight champion Yazmin “Rusita” Rivas (36-10-1, 10KO) looks to prove she has what it takes as the older lioness as she takes on up-and-coming prospect Yareli “Chololita” Larios (12-0, 2KO), daughter of former champion Oscar “Chololo” Larios.
Despite the star power of Zamora, her fight with Millan takes place in Zapopan, a suburb outside of Guadalajara. Millan will be the hometown fighter who despite hailing from Culiacan, Sinaloa, has made Guadalajara her second home.
After suffering a loss to Esmeralda Moreno last July, Zamora will have a new corner. She is going back to the teachings of a former trainer, Cuban Carlos Duarte.
“It was very hard to decide what was right and what was wrong in my career. There are still things to work on but we have made the necessary changes,” she said. “The new Ibeth Zamora is more mature, not only as a person but as an athlete.”
“Sometimes it is hard to analyze things when you are winning,” Zamora continued. “You don’t analyze things as deeply. My loss against Esmeralda brought on a lot of good things like being able to see rights and wrongs. It was a hard lesson but it was the right time to reinvent ourselves and to keep growing.”
It is difficult to find any errors in Zamora’s style or career. Known as a fearless warrior with a relentless pressure style, she has beaten a number of past and current champions in her ten years as a professional. Ana Arrazola, Esmeralda Moreno, the aforementioned Chavez, Anabel Ortiz, Naoko Shibata, Ava Knight, Jolene Blackshear and Keisher McLeod Wells have all suffered a loss to Zamora.
She reigned supreme in the 108-pound division for four years after capturing the vacant WBC title in Japan against Shibata. She then defended the title eight times before being bested by Moreno as part of the WBC flyweight tournament which concluded a few weeks ago with Chavez beating Moreno to be awarded the Diamond belt.
Training just outside of Mexico City, Zamora did have an interruption in training when the earthquake hit. The tragedy ended up being a blessing in disguise as they had to go up to the mountains surrounding the city. “We had to look for alternative places to train so we wouldn’t lose rhythm. We were able to have great sparring like Lupita Martinez (current WBC 115lb champion). That helped a lot in me polishing some details.”
Across from her she will face a long and lanky Millan who despite not having the experience Zamora has, has enough to put on a fight.
At least the heart.
Millan has proven it by going to France in April of 2016 and capturing her first title, the WBF flyweight strap, with a unanimous decision over Amira Hamzaoui. After defending it once against Sonia Osorio late last year, Millan traveled to the land of the rising sun, Japan, to challenge Naoko Fujioka for the vacant WBA 112lb title but was stopped in the last round after a valiant effort.
There is no doubt Millan will show her heart in this fight as Zamora is sure to come after and go for the knockout to prove she is to stay in the flyweight division. Millan will be the home fighter so that will be working in her favor.
“There is no better judge than those that buy a ticket or turn on the TV to see you fight,” said Millan recently. “You can’t fool them and they deserve to see you do your best. I owe a lot to Guadalajara; I want the fans to see a great fight between two women who have done everything to deserve this elimination fight.”
Rivas vs Larios
Ever since losing her title to Catherine Phiri in early 2016, the veteran Rivas of Torreon, Mexico, has not been able to get her footing. She fought to a third round technical draw in her bid for the interim WBC 118lb title and then lost against Amanda Serrano at super bantamweight in her first fight of this year. The 29-year-old beat the unheralded 5-5 Nazly Maldonado to get back in the win column this past March and is now set against Larios in a featherweight ten rounder who is looking to use the 16-year-old career veteran as a stepping stone.
“I am very prepared for this fight, I know I am facing a tough fighter,” Rivas said at the final press conference prior to the bout. “She is undefeated. I prepared myself like always, at 100% and more and after winning this fight, I hope to get another opportunity for a world title or a rematch with Amanda Serrano.”
To say that Rivas is a jump up in competition for Larios is an understatement.
Despite the 19-year-old’s undefeated record of twelve fights, Larios has only faced two fighters with winning records, the 10-9-3 Perla Hernandez and the 3-0 Alondra Gonzalez. Larios beat both via unanimous decision.
What Larios of Guadalajara does have going for her is the fact she is the daughter of “Chololo” Larios who also doubles as her trainer and she might be the bigger woman in the ring since she has never fought under 125 pounds while this will be the heaviest Rivas has fought since 2003.
Larios mentioned also at the press conference that the time of Rivas has come and gone and it was time for the newer names in Mexican female boxing and she would assure that on Saturday night.
The match up is as old as boxing, the older veteran against the young prospect, now we just wait and see who has enough to win.