Yokasta Valle Looking to Conquer Japan’s Naoko Fujioka
By David A. Avila
Yokasta Valle lives in the middle of tropical paradise Costa Rica. It’s an area known more for attracting tourist visitors than prizefighters.
The Central American country has powerful boxing countries to the south and to the north. Very few male boxers make it out of the area.
But lately, a few female Costa Rican prizefighters have cracked through the invisible barrier that separates the mediocre from the elite boxers. One of them is Valle.
Next week Valle (13-0, 6 Kos) will boldly face Japan’s mighty Naoko Fuijoka (16-2, 7 Kos) for the vacant WBO light flyweight world title in Tokyo, Japan. The fight on Friday Dec. 1, may be streamed live on www.BoxingChannel.com
At age 25 Valle has already held the IBF strawweight world championship and found it difficult to find foes. So she quickly decided to move up in weight where the talent is abundant with international competition to her liking.
Japan has always been a destination that intrigued the confident Costa Rican champion.
“I always had the dream of going to Japan. In my (strawweight) division the best fighters are the Japanese,” said Valle. “We had offered fights a couple of times with Japanese girls but they didn’t accept it. The only one who accepted a fight was Fujioka.”
Japan’s best female fighter is already a legend in her country and has been recognized internationally as one of the best pound for pound prizefighters in the world.
How can anyone dispute it?
Now 41, Fujioka has captured world titles in the strawweight, flyweight, super flyweight and bantamweight divisions and has wins over luminaries such as Mexico’s Mariana “Barby” Juarez.
It’s enough to make anyone raise their eyebrows when Fujioka’s accomplishments are said aloud.
“I’m very excited that Yokasta accepted the fight in Japan,” said Fujioka who was surprised that Valle willingly accepted the fight in Tokyo for the world title. “My fans will be able to see me perform.”
Valle thoroughly believes in her own abilities and despite Fujioka’s many victories and prizes feels all the more willing to face the Japanese legend.
“I want to dominate all the fighters in Japan and the best way is to start with the best one,” says Valle boldly and without hesitation. “I don’t have any fear of Fujioka. She has two hands and two legs just like me. We are both equal and she has nothing on me.”
Her manager Mario Vega advised her to look for a less experienced opponent in this title fight.
“I wanted to do the fight with someone else but she said I want to fight Fujioka,” said Vega who has also guided the career of two other world champions from Costa Rica in Hanna Gabriel and Carolina Arias. “Nobody trains harder than Yokasta.”
A woman of goals
Those dark brown eyes show intensity whenever she talks about boxing. It’s a sport that she has loved and learned from a very young age.
“My father is a huge boxing fan and when I was three years old he took me to the plaza to practice boxing. I had a long amateur career and was two-time Central American champion,” said Valle, who lost only twice in 40 amateur bouts. “In amateur boxing there is a lot of quality in Costa Rica and we began to dominate the region, but I don’t know why they don’t transition into pro boxing. But there is a lot of amateur boxing.”
Valle says her favorite boxer has always been Floyd Mayweather throughout the years.
“I liked Mayweather so I followed his career and aspired to be a professional fighter and a world champion too,” said Valle who has visited the U.S. Mexico and El Salvador. “But I don’t fight like Mayweather, I have my own style, but I like Mayweather’s style his jab and the way he takes and slips punches. But I have my own style.”
The petite model-looking fighter says she has invested time studying Fujioka’s style and previous fights. The abilities and strengths of the Japanese fighter make her smile because no critics can suggest this is an easy opponent, but the contrary.
“I believe it’s a very difficult fight, but at the same time I believe my movement will be an asset,” says Valle adding that she faced a similar style in Mexico’s Ana Victoria Polo. “I’m a woman of goals and I want to prove to myself that I have the talent to be one of the best fighters so why not start at the top with the head.”
Indeed. Why not?
“There are a lot of people that follow me from Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico and El Salvador and expect a lot,” says Valle. “I want to prove to my fans that I want to fight a true fighter. It’s a tough fight and I want to prove to everyone that I can do it.”
It’s what separates Valle from the rest of the world champions, that willingness to travel to another country where the odds favor the hometown fighter.
“That doesn’t bother me, it motivates me,” Valle says. “Japan has the best fighters and Fujioka is the best.”
It’s also going to be the best fight of the year.