Debora Dionicius sets out to earn wider respect in a land of champions
By Diego Morilla
A quick review of all the big names in Argentine female boxing inevitably takes us through a list that includes Marcela Acuña, Érica Farías, Ana Esteche, Yesica Bopp and many others.
But there is a name that, in spite of her unbeaten record and her impeccable performances in the ring, seems to be continuously overlooked.
Debora Dionicius seeks to reverse that trend after a year filled with personal tribulations, and waiting for the new agreement between the TYC Sports Network and the local Argentine Boxing Federation (FAB, in its Spanish acronym). It could open the door to the big matchups that have been so elusive during her career.
“Maybe I’m wrong, but I believe that the people from the interior of the country have more trouble to be considered for big fights, because we’re overlooked in favor of the ones from Buenos Aires,” said Dionicius (24-0, 5 KO) who hails from Villaguay, Entre Ríos, some 300 miles from the country’s capital. “Perhaps the girls from Buenos Aires have more leverage, but I am OK, I am happy because I am still a world champion.”
Dionicius will attempt to remain a champion this coming Saturday, August 19th when she will face Mexico’s Diana “La Bonita” Fernandez (16-0, 3 KO) in a defense of her IBF super flyweight belt in the Buenos Aires suburb of Malvinas Argentina, in the first event under the new agreement between TYC and FAB that has already produced a high-octane bout between two top contenders in Cesar Barrionuevo and Adrian Veron, and which promises to match the best fighters the country has to offer in fights that would have been impossible to produce before.
“It would be great to see that the best fighters in each division could face each other, because here in Argentina there are a lot of great boxers but each one of them fights under a different promoter, and that makes it difficult to pit them together. But the Veron-Barrionuevo fight will be an incentive for the best fighters in our country to start facing each other,” said Dionicius, who in spite of being unbeaten and always looking in her best possible shape has not been able to attract the interest of other local champions in a fight for pride and country.
And there is one fighter in particular with whom she would like to see in a unification or a new title bout, but so far Dionicius has had to settle with other fighters with similar styles and even similar nicknames.
“It is just a coincidence that my Mexican opponent’s nickname is “La Bonita” (Pretty Girl) too,” laughs Dionicius, when reminded that she will be facing a fighter that has something very striking in common with her fellow champion Daniela Bermudez. “I don’t know whether this is an incentive to send a message to Bermudez and let her know that she is next. If that’s the case, I would love it. They are working on that. I would love to face her because she is a great boxer, but I am getting ready for her as well as for any other fighter who may want to face me. I believe I am ready to face her. I have to show why I am a champion.”
In spite of the one or hopefully two “pretty ladies” in her path, Dionicius has been preparing for this moment by “riding with the ugly ones” as the proverb goes. Her immediate past has been full of vicissitudes outside the ring that have given her more disappointments than any other boxing-related frustration, but the path has opened up before her now and she is getting ready to give testimony of her new life in more than one way.
“The truth is that this year has been very complicated for me in every sense, both spiritual and personally. I have lost my mother-in-law and my brother this year. It was very difficult to recover from those losses. When something as unexpected as the loss of a brother happens, it’s like a hook to the liver that you can’t take and you can’t recover from. You never expect that, but that’s life, and things happen for a reason,” said Dionicius, who blamed those bad moments for her long hiatus, indicating at the same time that her newfound faith is what brought her back to the path of hard work and dedication.
“After that, I had serious problems in my family, with episodes of gender violence and more. But then I found the evangelical faith, and God healed my soul. He comforted me, I am a new creature and my past life is behind now, and those problems had no influence in my training. I am a new person after meeting Jesus Christ.”
With those challenges behind her, Dionicius dug deep in her Greek roots to look for a resurgence worthy of the Phoenix to rise from the ashes of her personal dramas and to set her sight on bigger challenges.
“I want to recover the lost time, I have never been away from the ring for so long,” said the fighter, a young veteran of the square circle at her 29 years of age, “but this was all because I was not motivated, I couldn’t find a reason to go to the gym. I always had an excuse, but the fight came along and we trained really hard for this fight. We know we will have an unbeaten fighter, and a great one at that. It will be a great fight. We have been working hard because I want to demonstrate why I am still the champion and I am happy to have this new opportunity to defend my title for the ninth time.”
They say that “ugly girls are lucky in ways pretty girls can only wish for.” Putting aside her obvious physical beauty, and limiting the ‘ugly’ label to the bad circumstances she had to go through, Dionicius will surely be looking to make Fernandez (and perhaps Bermudez in a not-so-distant future) the thirst for victory that only a broken heart can feel.
But Dionicius (nicknamed “La Gurisa,” or “The Kid” in the local Guarani native language) has proved to have the patience needed to wait for that day to arrive.
“What awaits for me after the fight with Fernandez is that we will continue training a lot, because I want to have at least two more fights before the year is over,” she says, without risking a prognosis. “I will continue training because I want to see whether I can generate a proposal to fight abroad. I have already traveled and I think I’ve shown I have the qualities to represent the country. And if not, I want the opportunity to fight here in Argentina with any other champ, whether in super flyweight or bantamweight, anybody.”
(Photo by Ramon Cairo)