“Loba” Muñoz Returns This Saturday Night
By Felipe Leon
After more than a year and a half hiatus because of the birth of her second child, one of Mexico’s longest reigning world champion returns to the ring. This Saturday night in Mexico City and live in Mexico on the Azteca channel 31 year-old Zulina “Loba” Muñoz (48-2-2, 28KO) faces Arely Valente (12-3-1, 6KO).
The scheduled 10-round bout will be the main event of the night for Zanfer’s first promotional card of the year.
“As women we must suspend our careers when we decide to become mothers,” Muñoz said recently about her time away from the ring. “To comeback is a difficult long road. I think it would be only be fair for promoters and the sanctioning bodies to allow us to return to the spot we had before we left.”
The technical but aggressive Muñoz captured the WBC super flyweight title in late 2012 with a unanimous decision over Maribel Ramirez and defended it 13 times. During the reign she faced the likes of Tenkai Tsunami, Alesia Graf, Renata Domsodi, Karina Hernandez, Gabriela Bouvier and Carolina Alvarez among others.
She lost the strap in her last fight against Guadalupe Martinez in May of ’17 in a very competitive fight. Scores for Martinez were 96-93, 95-94 and 95-93 showing how close the fight truly was.
Since winning the title Martinez has successfully defended it twice against Carlota Santos in September of 2017 stopping her in nine and in February of last year a unanimous decision over Irma Garcia.
“They gave me the option of challenging for the title when I felt ready,” Munoz said. “I am very motivated to come back. What happens this Saturday will help me along with my team if I am ready to ask for the title opportunity or to do one or two more fights to get back my rhythm.”
One thing that worried Muñoz since her last fight was the fact if the boxing audience, a fickle one at times, would forget about the “Loba”. “I think social media has helped me stay relevant, people can go back and see what kind of champion I am. Also I have a promoter who can give me TV airtime. That will help recoup and show those that don’t know who the ‘Loba’ is.”
Her daughter, Zulina Guadalupe, is about to be a year old and while she watched over her and stayed away from fighting it also meant she wasn’t doing something else, earning a paycheck.
“In female boxing not only do they pay us less but we also have to assume if we want to develop ourselves personally we must stop as professionals and stop earning money,” she explained. “Fortunately I was able to save, administer my savings correctly and I built an apartment building and with that I earned during my hiatus.”
Her first goal is to get back what she feels is rightfully her WBC 115-pound title, but beyond that she says she has other milestones she would like to reach. “For me Jackie Nava is the best in female boxing,” she said admirably. “To face her would be an honor. I think fans would be interested in seeing us inside the ring. It would be a good fight for both of us economically as well.”
Before Muñoz can achieve any of that she must get past the younger Valente, six years her junior. Muñoz has the advantage in experience but Valente, a pro for eight long years, might have enough hunger.
“I am very prepared for this fight,” Valente of Cancun, Mexico, said. “I got ready like never before. I was offered other fights before this one and I didn’t take them. I wanted a challenge like this one. I am ready to win.”
So much so she left the cozy confines of her hometown and traveled north to Monterrey, Mexico, and incorporated herself with the team of current WBO flyweight champion Arely Muciño.
After going undefeated for her first 11 fights Valente tasted defeat for the first time when she challenged the current WBC light flyweight champion Yesenia Gomez for the youth title in 2013. Since then her career has been a roller coaster ride. She came back to defeat Gomez in the rematch and then fought to a draw against world title challenger Maria Salinas.
She challenged for the interim WBA bantamweight title in 2014 against Mayerlin Rivas but was stopped in nine. The loss prompted a four year break from the sport. She came back for one fight in the summer of last year which she also lost via a split decision against Yulihan Luna.
Valente is more than aware a win over Muñoz will catapult her to heights she has never experienced in her professional career.
“Zulina is great fighter, one of the best Mexico has ever seen,” Valente stated. “I know she is dedicated and I respect her. In the ring it is only she and I. Honestly, I don’t think in losing or drawing. My goal is to win.”
Also on the card will be former world champion Silvia Torres (19-1-1, 6KO) vs Norleidys Graterol (10-1, 8KO) in a light flyweight ten rounder.