Ana Esteche upsets Celeste Peralta in a triple-unification barnburner
By Diego Morilla
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina.- In an electrifying triple-unification super lightweight title bout, Ana Laura “Monita” Esteche dominated Celeste “La Bestia” Peralta over 10 rounds to add Peralta’s WBO and IBF crowns to her own WBA belt with a spirited and emotional unanimous decision victory in front of a raucous crowd at the legendary Argentine Boxing Federation arena on Friday night.
With a physically overwhelming presence that resulted in a career-best performance, Esteche (12-4-3, 2 KO) stormed out of the gates to find a calm and collected Peralta dominating the first few rounds behind her longer reach and her more polished boxing skills.
The 26 year-old Esteche tried to rough up the action but Peralta (8-1, 1 KO) remained in control until the fourth round, when a cut and swollen right eye began bothering Peralta and allowing Esteche to find her rhythm and start scoring with a right cross that would become Peralta’s nightmare.
The 29 year-old Peralta appeared to regain control in the middle rounds, but the relentless pressure exerted by Esteche began paying off, with Peralta slowing down noticeably while Esteche, in impeccable physical shape, launched an all-out assault to leave no doubts in the minds of the judges.
And they did get the message. In spite of a desperate and furious flurry by Peralta in the last episode, the close scorecards of the ringside press that were giving Esteche a two-point lead (on average) were overruled by the judges, who awarded Esteche the win by scores of 98-92 and 97-93 (twice), setting up a rubber match after their hotly disputed first bout in June 2015 that ended in a majority decision for Peralta.
“The first few rounds were tough, but then I found my range with my right cross”, said Esteche, who defended the title she took from Monica Acosta in 2014 with two draws abroad. “In our first fight I was just too determined on destroying her from the first round on. I was too focused on my punching power and it didn’t happen for me. Today I was super relaxed. It was one of the best fights of my life, and I am super happy.”
Peralta was less than thrilled by her own performance.
“There were too many headbutts and it affected my vision,” said Peralta in her locker room interview, with her face bearing the marks of Esteche’s brutal attack. “She scored some heavy headbutts. I need to improve a lot now, but I am bothered by the scorecards too,” said the fighter, complaining about the lopsided nature of the scorecards in a fight that was widely perceived as much closer. “The rough tactics paid off for her, but I am not a sore loser and I know I have to improve to win the rubber match.”
The alternate plan for that is a quadruple-unification bout against yet another extraordinary Argentine fighter in Erica Farias, who was at ringside cheering on her friend Peralta and was as bummed about the outcome of the fight as she was excited about the chance to avenge her friend’s defeat.
“Absolutely!”, said Farias, when asked about a chance to face Esteche in a mega-unification bout for all the Barbies in the dollhouse. “I want to move up to 140 to fight (unified titlist and pound-for-pound queen Cecilia) Braekhus, but I never said I would abandon this division. I would love it. I am excited about this now. It would be a great fight. This one was terrific! There are a few fights left in the year but this is already a candidate for the best fight.”
Esteche was nonchalant yet excited as well.
“I got three, why not four?,” said Esteche. “I live for this, and I want to show the world that I am the number one.”
Photo courtesy of Ramon Cairo/OFR Promotions