Yesenia Gomez vs. Erika Hanawa for WBC Light Flyweight Title in Cancun
The 2019 female boxing season continues south of the border in Mexico with competing world titles on the two biggest terrestrial networks in Mexico. On the bigger one, Televisa, Promociones del Pueblo presents the first defense of the newly crowned WBC junior flyweight world champion Yesenia “La Niña” Gomez (14-5-3, 6KO) defends against Japan’s Erika Hanawa (10-3, 4KO) in a scheduled ten rounder.
The nationally televised event will take place this Saturday night, February 16th, at the Oasis Hotel in Cancun, Mexico, the hometown of the 23-year-old Gomez.
There is a great history in world title fights between Mexico and Japan. The first was in 2010. The two countries have faced each other 26 times with a world title at stake with 17 wins for Mexico and 8 for Japan. There is one draw between the two.
The legendary Mariana “Barby” Juarez has given Mexico four of those wins while the equally as legendary Naoko Fujioka has also earned four for the land of the rising sun.
Juarez lost to Fujioka while both Ibeth Zamora and Anabel Ortiz have three wins and one loss against Japan. Zamora and Ortiz are the only Mexican female fighters who have registered wins in the Far East country.
“I am fully committed in defending the title and putting on a great show at home,” Gomez said of her first defense. “This is my home, where I won the title and where I have all the support. We have been working on some mistakes and I think I will be a better fighter than in my last fight.”
Gomez became the first female world champion from her home state Quintana Roo last September with a majority decision over tough veteran Esmeralda “Joya” Moreno. The fight was a rematch from their war that ended in a draw last May.
“Against Esmeralda they were very tough fights,” she said of the best name on her resume. “I took the fights because I felt I could beat her. Now the tougher part comes and that is to maintain myself as a world champion. I am ready for that. I have done a great preparation and I will go in and leave the ring as a world champion.”
Gomez began her career in 2011 with a loss to Dorely Valente. Ironically her second loss came only two fights later to Dorely’s sister, Arely. She was able to avenge that one a year later but dropped a majority decision to Arely later that year. She lost to Susana Cruz Perez in her next fight and to Guadalupe Bautista in 2017.
Since then she has not lost.
The Turn around
Her notable wins have been against the aforementioned Moreno and Guadalupe Martinez. Two tough draws against her friend Jackie Calvo round out her resume.
Gomez trained for her first defense in the Mexico City altitude sparring the likes of Calvo and Daniela “Bonita” Fernandez. “My boxing has been growing at the hand of my trainer Ruben Lira. I’m working on fighting at a distance. I have always faced shorter opponents but this time we are going to be fighting with a taller one so we are working on that. She comes in with her head a lot and we have been working on that. “
Gomez knows she has a tough fight in front of her in Hanawa who despite only 13 fights has captured the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Female 105-pound title as well as the OPBF strap. The fight against Gomez will not be her first bid at a world title. Last May she came up short against Kayoko Ebata for the vacant WBO minimum weight title via a unanimous decision.
“Japanese fighters and my next opponent is a good example of that,” Gomez said of Hanawa. “She is always going forward and she can take a punch. I am ready for a war for ten rounds but we are going to look for the fight. If the knockout comes then it will be welcomed.”
The fight against Gomez will be the Mexican’s first against an international opponent. Hanawa has the advantage there since she has fought three times outside of Japan. The first time in the Philippines against Christine Latube in ’16 where she won that regional title, then again in the same country a year later with a win over Sornsawan Khunmarn. In May of last year she traveled to Filipino lands again to score a unanimous decision over Saranyaphong Theinthong.
“I am undefeated outside of Japan. She has never fought outside of Mexico,” Hanawa said of Gomez. “She is very young and I don’t doubt she has what it takes to be a world champion but I have worked very hard and I will achieve it even if it’s in her hometown.”
Though it is not the first time she fights out of Japan it is her first outside of Asia and she is looking forward to visiting such a world-recognized destination as Cancun. “I’ve seen photos of Cancun. It will be an extraordinary place to fight for the world title. I am mentally ready to become a world champion. Us Japanese are kamikazes and I am ready to leave my soul in the ring. We are taught as children to leave everything for a goal including our lives.”
At the final press conference before the fight Hanawa predicted the knockout. “She is a runner but I have the legs to catch her. If at any moment she stops to exchange punches the fight will be over.”
Also on the card will be the return of the current WBC heavyweight champion Alejandra “La Tigre” Jimenez (11-0-1, 9KO). Jimenez, 31, of Mexico City is slowly making her way down to the super middleweight division weight in search of bigger and more frequent challenges.
Jimenez will be facing Irais Hernandez in a rematch of their April of 2018 fight.
“She is fighter who now has more experience, she has fought in Europe and Canada since our fight,” Jimenez said of her upcoming bout. “Our fight was very close. Any of us could have won the fight. The judges gave us a draw. That is why both of us want this rematch.”
“The draw is a thorn on my side,” Jimenez stated. “The only way to get rid of it is fighting again. I need to prove to myself and the public that I am the better of the two. I want to prove that I am good enough to go after a second world title in another weight class.”
Jimenez stated after this fight she would like to challenge current 168-pound world champion Franchon Crews-Dezurn.