Argentina’s Great Marcela Acuna KOs Yesica Marcos

Marcela Acuna demolishes Yesica Marcos with a highlight-reel stoppage  

By Diego Morilla

MORENO, Argentina – It is not easy to continue outdoing oneself after a long and illustrious career, but Marcela Acuña found a way to do just that with her demolishing, highlight-reel, last-round stoppage win over Yesica Marcos on Friday night with the vacant IBF super bantamweight title on the line.

Still fighting at the age of 40 and trying to make it to 3-0 in 2016 at an age in which she is already a young grandmother, Acuña (45-6 1, 19 KO) made history as the first Argentine boxer regardless of gender to hold titles in all four major sanctioning bodies (WBA, WBC, WBO and now IBF) with a one-punch destruction of previously unbeaten Yesica Marcos (27-1-2, 9 KO) in a rematch of a fight that was largely seen as a home-cooked draw back in 2013 in spite of Acuña´s clear dominance.

Acuña took the first two rounds with her better sense of timing and pacing, connecting clearly from the long distance and avoiding Marcos’ straight right and uppercuts. Marcos took the third round but Acuña clawed back to a win in the fourth and was in complete control in the fifth, scoring at will from her stick-and-move tactic and countering effectively against the active but inaccurate attack of Marcos.

Acuña took the seventh with a couple of hard shots towards the end just when it appeared that the fight was once again slipping away from her grip, and then scored with power and precision in the eighth to set up a devastating ninth round in which Acuña opened up with a great combination and then staggered Marcos towards the end with an explosive rally, dislodging Marcos’ mouthpiece somewhere in the middle of the action.

The confusing end of the round, in which referee Mario Gonzalez appeared to stop the bout in favor of Acuña when in fact he was separating both fighters at the sound of the bell that was muffled by the roar of the crowd, set the tone for a final round in which the crowd was already on its feet sensing the proximity of a historic moment.

That moment came barely 30 seconds into the final round, when Acuña landed a textbook, picture-perfect right cross to the chin that sent Marcos to the canvas flat on her back, to be counted out by referee Gonzalez as she was barely regaining consciousness.

Acuña, who had started her career facing two of the most accomplished fighters of her era in Christy Martin and Lucia Rijker, became the first female to hold a professional boxing license in Argentina 15 years ago after chaining herself to the doors of the local federation to fight for her rights, and is still making her legend grow by becoming a multiple champion against an opponent who was unbeaten and ten years younger than her.

“It’s a special night because I am getting the IBF belt, the only one I was missing,” said Acuña, “but beyond that it is a special night because I defeated an opponent like Yesica Marcos and because my partner in life, Ramon (Chaparro, husband and trainer) was not in my corner. This victory is for you, of course,” said Acuña, pointing at the TV camera that relayed the message to her husband, hospitalized with a mild case of food poisoning.

Even though the fight had its ups and downs, Acuña gave no signs of making this her swan song.

“I felt that I won every round, I knew it was going to be a great fight, we both left our hearts and souls in the ring, and even though I won this time, I am sure Yesica will take this defeat and learn from it to come back even stronger because she is a great boxer,” said Acuña, who left the door open for another year of stretching her legacy into the future.

“Next year will see what happens,” quipped the champ, nicknamed ‘The Tigress’ and sometimes called ‘Lady Firpo’ for holding the license number 001 in the Argentine Boxing Federation for a fighter of her gender. “I hadn’t scored a knockout in a while, but now I am back at the top of the international level and I want more.”

Time will tell whether she will add the nickname of ‘Lady Hopkins’ to her list of accolades and monikers. Tonight, she looked the part of the ‘Executioner’ quite perfectly, and without offering signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Other female bout

Previously, in a six-round bout, Paola Benavídez (7-2-1) scored a unanimous decision win over Cintia González (3-4-0) in a spirited bout that saw Benavidez growing slowly into the fight and dominating Gonzalez with her better reach and athleticism to win by scores of 60-55 (twice) and 59-55.