Mariana Juarez – Eva Naranjo; Battle in Zacatecas
If the legendary Mariana “Barbie” Juarez (51-9-4, 18KO) is disappointed she sure doesn’t show it. Last year the talk of the female boxing world was if and when Juarez would face off with fellow Mexican warrior Jackie Nava. After fighting on the same card in August of last year and then even announcing the fight for November of 2018, the talks disintegrated.
Both camps blamed each other with talks of many resuming this year. Since sharing the bill last summer each woman has fought once.
Juarez (51-9-4, 18 KOs) of Mexico City is ready to make her seventh defense of her WBC bantamweight title this Saturday night against the game Eva Naranjo (12-0, 3KO) of Spain, while Nava has no plans.
The fight will headline the Televisa televised fight card from Fresnillo, Mexico, and presented by Promociones del Pueblo.
“She has been fighting her whole life,” said Juarez of Naranjo. “The other sports she has participated in are as disciplined and as complicated as boxing. She is not afraid of punches. She is very experienced and has very good technique. I am never going to underestimate an opponent. I need to win this fight so I can go after the super bantamweight title.”
Naranjo is a multi-time world champion in kickboxing and Muay Thai.
“I know she wants to bust my head off,” Juarez said the first Mexican female to win world titles in three divisions. “I am more than prepared. I have other plans but first I must win this fight. I tried to change up my style a bit for this fight since I know they have prepared for what they have seen before.”
Juarez captured the 118 pound strap in the spring of 2017 against the defending champion Catherine Phiri. That fight marked her third in the bantamweight division. Her first she lost against Argentinean wunderkind Daniela “Bonita” Bermudez but in her second she defeated tough fighter Irma “Torbellina” Garcia.
Since beating Phiri, the 39-year-old Juarez has defeated an international list of competition while defending her world title. Terumi Nuki of Japan, Alesia Graf of Germany, Gabriela Bouvier of Uruguay, Carolina Arias of Costa Rica, Nuki again and Susie Ramadan of Australia have all bowed down in front of Juarez in challenges for the title.
Naranjo, who is managed by former champion Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez, also has quite the experience against international opponents. As a pro in 12 fights she has faced Aouatif Al Kallachi of Morocco, Vanesa Caruso of Italy, Katherine Quintana of Colombia, Olga Zabavina of Russia, Johanna Rydberg of Sweden, Jasmina Nad of Serbia and Dani Hodges of England.
“She is a dangerous opponent because she has ‘Maravilla’ Martinez in her corner,” Juarez said of the curveball she will have to face. “They know who they are facing, she is a fighter that has been waiting for this kind of opportunity a long time. I always get ready mentally visualizing I am going against the best in the world.”
The scheduled ten round bout marks Naranjo’s first attempt at a world title. In her last fight, a unanimous decision over Davinia Perez, she captured the vacant WBC International strap. Despite being at a huge disadvantage in experience in boxing with only 12 fights versus the nearly 65 of Juarez, Naranjo does have experience inside a ring with nearly 200 bouts in kickboxing and Muay Thai.
“I began fighting at 18 or 19,” the 40-year-old Naranjo shared. “I met my then trainer Eduardo Martin and he made me who I am today. I began to train and I liked his style, his philosophy and stayed. In 2001 I became the Spanish champion (in kickboxing) thanks to him.”
Now she is now trained by Sento “Tsunami” Martinez.
Despite all her experience inside a ring Naranjo didn’t go pro as a boxer until the summer of 2015. She has become a darling of the Spanish boxing scene but now she will be taking a huge step up in competition in facing not only one of the best fighters in Mexico, but the world.
“This is the biggest opportunity in my career since I turned professional,” she said of her next fight. If she is to win she would become the first Spanish female fighter to capture a world title outside of her country. Maria Jesus Rosa and Joana Pastrana captured their titles in Spain. “I was thinking of taking a break since I just became a local government representative in my hometown. I always wanted an opportunity for a world title in Mexico so now I am ready for the fight.”
The fight will be the second time Naranjo fights outside of her home country in boxing but not in her life. The first, in March of 2018, she traveled to Oslo, Norway, to defeat Angelique Hernandez via a quick second round KO. On Saturday it will be her first fight in the New World.
“The fight is in her backyard,” said Naranjo of her bout against Juarez. “That is not important to me. I have fought outside of my country many times before and I have returned with the title. I am ready for a war. Mariana Juarez is not invincible and she is not bigger than my dream to become a world champion. No one or nothing will stop me.”
At the final press conference Naranjo made a surprise announcement. “I greatly admire the champion but inside the ring I will give a war. I don’t know if it will be by knockout but I am going to give it my all. Back home I am a politician so if I don’t win I am going to retire. If I don’t become a champion then it is time to hang up the gloves.”
It’s Spain versus Mexico.
(Photo by Notifight)