Juarez Defends Against Bouvier in First Fight of 2018
By Felipe Leon
One thing needed to survive as a professional boxer, especially a female fighter, is confidence. The 38-year-old Mariana “Barbie” Juarez (47-9-4, 18KO) of Mexico City, Mexico, has confidence coming out of her ears.
WBC bantamweight titlist Juarez (47-9-4, 18 KOs) will be facing Uruguay’s Gabriela Bouvier (13-7-1, 3KO) in the main event on Saturday Feb. 17, at Arena Coliseo in Mexico City. The world title clash will be televised by Televisa.
Two of Bouvier’s losses have come at the fists of Juarez which makes her all that much more confident.
“Not even in her wildest dreams can she beat me,” Juarez said of Bouvier. “She has been a world champion before and she knows what it takes. I’ve heard she has said she is coming to pull the upset but I have two hands and a lot of heart to defend my title against anybody. She is wrong if she thinks she is going to take it from me, I am waiting, all my opponents say the same thing, I respect her out of the ring but inside of it she doesn’t know what is waiting for her.”
Bouvier might have an idea.
They first faced each other back in early 2011 for the Juarez’s WBC flyweight title. “Barbie” stopped her in seven. The second fight was only five months later for the same title, that time Bouvier was stopped in four.
Despite the two losses to Juarez, Bouvier, 26, was not discouraged and in October of 2013 she captured the vacant IBF flyweight title with a unanimous decision over Argentinean Romina Elizabeth Alcantra. She defended it once against Carolina Alvarez before dropping a split decision and the title to Leonela Paola Yudica in late 2014.
Bouvier then went after the WBC super flyweight title against long-reigning former champion Zulina “Loba” Muñoz in her fourth trip to Mexico but came up short via a unanimous decision in 2015. Since then she is 1-1 having fought twice in 2016, a points loss to Sharadene Fortuin in South Africa and a TKO win over Fabiana Lopes back home. Bouvier did not register any fights in 2017 and her fight against Juarez is her first for 2018.
“All I know is that title goes back home with me,” Bouvier stated once she reached Mexico earlier this week. “On Saturday Uruguay will have a new world champion. This time I will do the impossible to win.”
As mentioned the fight on Saturday marks the fifth time Bouvier travels north to Mexico and the 9th in 21 fights as a professional. She is accustomed to fights outside of her country and is ready for the hostile territory and all that it entails come Saturday. “I know Mariana will be fighting with the full support of her people. I don’t care about that; I am physically prepared for a war inside the ring and mentally prepared to have my hand raised at the end.”
At the final presser Bouvier seemed confident despite her two last chances against Mariana not being as successful.
“Mariana is a great fighter,” Bouvier said at the final press conference before the fight. “I have read people here say that we only come as tourists. I trained to win, I am not here on vacation. I admire Mariana but on Saturday I am going to win. The pressure is not on me, it’s on her since she is the one fighting in her hometown. I am going to do my fight, give it my all and try to win.”
With a win here a major fight in the summer could be in line for Juarez. Since last year and once Juarez captured the WBC 118-pound title last April over Catherine Phiri in front of 400,000 fans at the Zocalo in the heart of Mexico City, a fight against legendary Jackie Nava has been discussed.
Both have agreed to the fight through the media but obviously discussions are still needed between Promociones Del Pueblo, Juarez’s promotor, and Jackie Nava’s, Zanfer.
Juarez recently stated despite her age and 60 fights under her belt as a professional, she is looking for another world title at 122 pounds.
“I have always been a woman who likes challenges,” Juarez explains. “I don’t give up easily and I am always looking for more. I love to shut the mouths of those who say I can’t achieve what I set my mind to. That motivates me.”
“There are a lot of names mentioned as future opponents,” Juarez shared regarding her plans for 2018. “I am concentrated on Gabriela Bouvier. My dream right now is to be a world champion in a fourth division but for that I need to continue to be the best bantamweight in the world.”
Another one of her dreams is to have a fight at the most hallowed ground for sports in Mexico, Estadio Azteca, where the Mexican national soccer team plays and where in 1993 the great Julio Cesar Chavez stuffed 132,000 rabid fans to watch him destroy Greg Haugen in five.
“I would like to have a fight the stadium,” Juarez said of her dream. “I remember as a little girl I would play soccer and my dream was to play there. Now to have the possibility to get there and not as a soccer player but boxer would be huge for me so I am going to work hard so my promotor can see how good of an idea that could be.”
Before all that, Juarez must first win her first fight of 2018 against Bouvier.
“I love the fact the fight is here in my home of Mexico City,” Juarez said at the final presser before the fight. “I have a lot of respect for Gabriela, we fought four years ago but I know she has learned a lot. You should never over look your opponents and I want that fourth title. I am going to keep working to get that opportunity. We have studied her and she has developed a good right hand. A year ago they said I was finished but I am here and still fighting.”