Esmeralda “Joya” Moreno Defends In Mexico, “Rusita” Rivas Challenges In Colombia
By Felipe Leon
Esmeralda “Joya” Moreno is in a unique situation. After failing to exact revenge against Jessica “Kika” Chavez last September in the final of the WBC flyweight tournament, the 30-year-old mother of one still holds her WBC light flyweight world title and is ready to defend it.
The veteran Moreno (35-10-1, 11 KOs) will defend the 108-pound title for the first time against Yesenia “La Niña” Gomez (13-5-2, 6KO) in the main event from Playa del Carmen, Mexico, live on Televisa. Promociones del Pueblo presents the fight card.
Mexico City’s Moreno captured the title by beating long-reigning champion Ibeth “Roca” Zamora in the semi-finals in the aforementioned tournament in April of last year. The 10-round fight marked the fourth time Moreno battled Zamora balancing the scale with two wins apiece. This time was the most important since it made Moreno a champion again recapturing the title she left vacant because of motherhood with a tough earned split decision.
Ranked #18 at flyweight by the WBC, Cancun, Mexico’s Gomez of will be challenging for her first world title against Moreno. She is coming off a loss but against the newly crowned IBF light flyweight champion Guadalupe Bautista and is 1-1-2 with a No-Contest in her last five fights.
“Fights are won in the gym,” Gomez said recently regarding her world title opportunity. “We have been working on that, we have worked very hard. I know that Esmeralda is tough fighter but I am too. The war is a guarantee and I am ready for Esmeralda Moreno.”
Moreno is not worried about the confident talk from Gomez, a veteran of 46 fights with 10 of those for full-fledged world titles, the “Jewel” has seen it all.
“I have 15 years of experience,” Moreno stated confidently. “I know what it means to go to the opponent’s home town. I know exactly what I need to do. I need to give more every round. I know she is going to bring everything and take my world title. This title cost me a lot so nobody is going to take it from me.”
Despite her advantage in experience in bouts and opponents, Moreno says she is not taking Gomez for granted.
“The fact that I have a better record does not mean I am overlooking her. I never take an opponent for granted. Every one of them I take very seriously. The hunger that Yesenia displays is what makes her dangerous.”
Gomez knows who she is facing on Saturday night but states she is confident in her preparation.
“I am in great physical shape,” Gomez declared. “I have great admiration for Esmeralda and everything she has achieved. It is going to be an honor to take the world title from her. My respect and admiration is left out of the ring, inside of it I am only going to think of winning the world title. I want to be the first world champion from Quintana Roo and I will make a perfect fight.”
“This fight card speaks well of female boxing,” Moreno said in the last press conference before the fight. “I don’t need luck but I thank those who wish it. I worked hard in the gym and this title is a product of blood, dedication and hard work, nothing to do with luck. Before this world title I was national champion twice, a silver title and a long list of tough fights against the best in the world.”
I am not here to leave my title, if Yesenia beats me, I will accept it,” she continued. “I am not here to fight to a draw, that belt goes home with me, I only ask for fairness from the judges.”
“This is a great opportunity to make history,” Gomez said at her last chance at the microphone before facing Moreno. “I am ready to fight. I have been training since January for this fight. This is the opportunity of my life and I am not going to let it go. I am focused for that title to stay in Quintana Roo this Saturday. I’m not overconfident but I am ready.”
World ranked super middleweight Maricela “La Diva” Cornejo (10-2, 3KO) is also part of the fight card in a six round bout.
Yazmin “Rusita” Rivas Challenges Colombia’s Palmera
The same night, but 1,000 miles south in Monteria, Colombia, Mexican veteran Yazmin “Rusita” Rivas (37-10-1, 10KO) will challenge for her tenth world title and third in as many divisions when she goes up to 122 pounds to face hard-hitting WBA world champion Liliana Palmera (28-12-3, 16KO).
Rival Mexican network Azteca will televise live from South America the scheduled 10-round bout. Originally the championship bout was scheduled for May 12th but Azteca requested the change of date since they were already scheduled to broadcast Jaime Munguia’s challenge of Saddam Ali for the WBO super welterweight title.
The 30-year-old Rivas, best known outside of Mexico for her valiant effort against Amanda Serrano last year on Showtime Extreme, might be the most accomplished active fighter in Mexico short of Mariana “Barbie” Juarez. Pro at 13, Rivas has held the WBA super flyweight title and the IBF as well as the WBC bantamweight titles. The fight Saturday night actually marks the second time Rivas travels to South America for the WBA 122-pound strap. Back in April of 2007 Rivas dropped a unanimous decision to Argentinean legend Mariana “Tigresa” Acuña.
The 36-year-old Palmera’s road to a title has been a tougher one.
She first captured the interim version in 2014 with a unanimous decision over Ana Maria Lozano. This after challenging a who’s who of heavier champions like Kina Malpartida for the WBA 130-pound strap, Alejandra “Locomotora” Olivares for the WBA 135-pound belt, Erica Farias for the WBC belt twice and Ogleidis Suarez for the WBA featherweight title.
“I didn’t have the discipline or a trainer that would push me,” Palmera explained as the reason of why she was fighting so out of her weight class. “The majority of my career has been without protection, no manager, and when I had them they were after one thing just like me, the money.”
Palmera defended the interim WBA super bantamweight title three times before being promoted to full-fledged champion in the summer of 2016. She lost that title to Venezuelan Alys Sanchez in August of last year but got it back three months later. Both were tremendous fights.
“This fight was key,” Palmera said of her last fight. “I had to recapture my title. She took it in my country, I cried. I hadn’t fought in a year and a half so I had to take the fight. I prepared myself for this fight. I dropped her in the first and last round so I won dominantly.”
Against Rivas it will be her first defense since getting it back and her first fight as a champion in her hometown. Palmera has not fought in Monteria since 2009. “I want the stadium to be ready to burst with fans.”
“I have done the best camp of my life,” Rivas said before heading south to Colombia. “Physically I’m at my limit. Mentally I am heading to Colombia to be a world champion again. I want to come back as a champion in three divisions.”
If Rivas accomplishes the feat, she would be only second Mexican woman to do it behind Mariana Juarez.
“This is my first fight of the year,” Rivas explained. “I am very excited. Going for a new world title, I am not nervous. I am motivated and I have the drive to capture the title and come back to Mexico with the world title.”
(Photo by NotiMex)