Diana “La Bonita” Fernandez vs Debani Balderas in Juarez, Mexico
By Felipe Leon
A loss doesn’t mean an end to a career. A close disputed loss to a legend can even be better.
That might be the case for 24-year-old Diana “La Bonita” Fernandez (20-3, 4KO) who in her last fight last in June dropped a close, hotly contested unanimous decision to current WBC bantamweight champion and Mexican female boxing legend Mariana “Barbie” Juarez (53-9-4, 18KO). The fight in Fernandez’s hometown of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, was one of the best of the year with “Barbie” taking the win with scores of 97-93 and 96-94 twice.
The popular Fernandez gets an opportunity to get back in the win column when she takes on Debani “La Exquisita” Balderas (10-2-2, 3KO) out of Monterrey, Mexico, in a scheduled 10 rounder in the 115-pound division.
“I have worked very hard for this fight,” Fernandez said recently. “I can’t have another defeat. I learned a lot from my last fight and I will make my opponents respect my house. From here on out we are only going to the top. I want to be a world champion and I am going to get it. I am not going rest until Ciudad Juarez has a female world champion.”
Fernandez will defend her WBC Latino super flyweight title and be the co-headlining main event for the Promociones del Pueblo fight card presented by mega-channel Televisa.
Fernandez has been a regular staple on Televisa since signing to her hometown promotor after jumping on their radar in her bid for the IBF super flyweight title in Argentina against Debora Dionicius. It was a losing effort via a unanimous decision but Fernandez proved to be a tenacious competitor in that fight with an aggressive come-forward style.
Doesn’t hurt what she lacks in technical ability she makes up in looks.
Despite making her home in Ciudad Juarez, Fernandez trains in the high altitude of Mexico City under the watchful eye of coach Ruben Lira. For this upcoming fight Fernandez sparred against the likes of current WBC light flyweight champion Yesenia “La Niña” Gomez, her sister Karina “La Bella” Fernandez and other fighters in the suburb of Iztacalco.
“I think it is only a matter of time,” her trainer Ruben Lira stated. “’La Bonita’ has the qualities of a world champion. We are working hard in all the corresponding areas so when her next world title opportunity comes, she will be ready physically and mentally. I think she can win a world title; I think we proved it against Mariana Juarez but we must need to keep working.”
Her next fight marks the third in a row in her hometown of Ciudad Juarez and the 20th of her career. “I don’t fear fighting in front of 7,000 people in my hometown. I see it as they supporting me and as long as you try your hardest inside the ring, the fans in Juarez are loyal. They are on your side unconditionally and I think my opponents feel that.”
Since signing with Promociones del Pueblo, Fernandez has lost but in much bigger fights and only against world-class opposition. In her first fight under her promotor’s banner she dropped a unanimous decision to title contender Lourdes “Pequeña Lulu” Juarez back in the fall of 2017.
After that loss Fernandez remounted and strung together four straight wins against good opposition. She knocked out tough veteran Noemi Bosques in eight and scored unanimous decisions over Olga Julio, Leticia Uribe and Kandy Sandoval.
Those wins and the fact Fernandez, along with her sister fellow fighter Karina, is a master thrash talker, earned her the win against Mariana Juarez. The build up and the fight was everything everyone expected with “La Bonita” and “Barbie” trading barbs outside the ring and hard power punches inside of it.
Despite the losing effort Fernandez gave a good showing and proved she could compete at a world-class level.
“The fans should expect a ‘Bonita’ who gives her all, like I have always done,” Fernandez said at the final press conference before Saturday night’s fight. “I have never disappointed my hometown fans. Unfortunately, I lost my last fight but it wasn’t against just anyone, it was against the world champion and I gave a good fight.”
“I want to ask for another world title opportunity,” she continued. “I am ready to do what is needed. This is not over, I want to be the best in the world and if I want to be a world champion, I can’t lose on Saturday night.”
Fernandez is looking for another chance for a world championship but first must prove her mettle against Balderas. “La Exquisita” is not as experienced as Fernandez and nearly not as well known. This fight is her first in the limelight.
She understands this is her chance to raise her career to another level.
“This is my opportunity to make that jump,” Balderas said from her training camp in the mountains in the state of Mexico. “She is a great opponent and for that we got ready. We are ready for whatever it comes. “I like to give my all inside the ring. I think it is going to be a very good fight. Both of us are young with our style inside the ring, I think that is what the fans are expecting.”
Balderas is very aware of what kind of fighter she will be facing on Saturday night. “We know she is coming off a loss for a world title. She is very prepared but we have worked hard for this fight, we sparred with good partners, we are ready,”
One of her sparring partners is the current WBC FECARBOX champion Mayeli Flores who is coming off an impressive knockout win over former long-reigning champion Zulina “Loba” Muñoz.
“We attract that which we are ready for and I am ready for this win,” Balderas said at her time at the podium at the final press conference. “This is a fight I have been waiting on for years. This is the next step for bigger things in my career and this kind of opportunities you can’t pass up. We are two people that want to make it to the top and we are going to leave clear who wants it more.”
After an impressive amateur career where she represented her home state of Nuevo Leon several times in national tournaments, Balderas lost her first pro fight against Jazmin Gonzalez, cousin of former world champion Jhonny Gonzalez, back in the summer of 2015.
Her second loss was after amassing a 4-0-1 record in her next five fights dropping a six-round unanimous decision to up and comer Yamileth Mercado in early 2018. Balderas won her next six fights although against questionable opposition before getting a draw in her last fight against Joselyn Morales in July in a scheduled six rounder.
Her fight against Fernandez will be her first at 10 rounds.
One thing that doesn’t bother Balderas is the fact she will be fighting in Fernandez’s back yard. “I am not worried, not at all, I have always been very confident outside the ring as well as inside of it. I am happy in fighting in another city and we are ready to give a great fight so that female boxing keeps growing.”
(Photo by BoxeoMundial.com)