Two-division world champion “Superbad” Seniesa Estrada (25-0, 9 KOs) had to dig down and push back a spirited effort from veteran Leonela Yudica of Argentina (19-2-3, 1 KOs) to win a decision victory and retain her WBA, WBC, and Ring Magazine minimumweight titles. All three scorecards read 97-93, and Estrada exhaled upon hearing the scores.
Yudica was successful in timing Estrada as she shifted from orthodox to southpaw stances throughout the fight, using her reach advantage and her counterpunching style.
Estrada's trainer Dean Campos urged Estrada to be defensively responsible, and the champion began having success laying traps, drawing Yudica in looking for counterpunching opportunities, catching her with hard right and left hooks. It was successful for Estrada and helped her pull ahead and away from Yudica on the cards, especially in the ninth and tenth rounds, where Estrada landed her hardest shots of the fight.
Estrada: ‘My Style Is Versatile'
Estrada said she knew she was up against a boxer facing the former champion. “I had to show something different. She's a boxer and a mover. I showed I can fight any type of style. My style is versatile. She's a natural flyweight, she's bigger than me, and I knew she could hang in there.”
Estrada said she relied on her footwork, using feints and movement to get close enough to land punches.
Yudica's right hands took their toll, with bruising around Estrada's left eye. Yudica was gaining the edge on power punches through eight rounds. With two rounds left, Yudica knew she had to make her case with the American judges fighting on the road.
Estrada knew she had to dig down. Trainer Campos tells Estrada to hold her hands high and make her punches count in the final round, letting Yudica commit and wear herself out.
Estrada lured Yudica in and unloaded everything in her power shot arsenal. Yudica wouldn't yield easily, and with both women throwing punches, the final bell sounded, sending the fight to the scorecards.
Yudica celebrated, feeling she'd done enough to win, but Estrada closed strong. Yudica had the connect advantage after eight rounds, but Estrada turned it around in those championship rounds. Estrada landed 161 of 549 punches thrown (29%), 144 of 506 punches for Yudica (28%). Estrada landed 148 power punches to 119 for Yudica, an indicator of the edge in the fight.
Yudica: ‘Look At Her Face'
Yudica was disappointed in the outcome. “Just look at her face. Nobody's hit her like I hit her, I can promise you that. She won't take off her hat so you can see her face.
“I knew I was up against a champion. I stood toe to toe with her. If she's really the champion she says she is, maybe she'll give me a rematch.”
Estrada and Valle Heading for Unification
It's not likely Estrada will want to wind things back. Her goal is to unify the division. The woman who owns the WBO and IBF belts was ringside, Yokasta Valle of Costa Rica. Valle came into the ring, and the women stated their intentions.
“I want Yokasta Valle. I'm the best in this div. She can just hand me those belts right now. When we fight it's going to be bad for her,” Estrada said.
“I'm not afraid of you,” fired back Valle. “What you want, I've got. And what you've got, I want. To call yourself the best in this weight class, you've got to come through me.”
Estrada said she'd not only beat Valle, she'd beat her trainer and her promoter, Golden Boy – who Estrada left when she went to Top Rank. Valle said Estrada should fight her in Costa Rica. “I fill stadiums, not arenas.”
Cortes Gets Win After Martinez Suffers Cut
Andres Cortes of Las Vegas (20-0, 11 KOs) benefitted from the decision of his opponent's trainer Robert Garcia. Garcia stopped his fighter Xavier Martinez of Sacramento (18-2, 12 KOs) from continuing in the junior lightweight co-main.
Cortes opened a cut below the left eye with a right hand in combination in the seventh round. It was bruised and swollen, but the ringside physician checked and signed off on Martinez going out for the eighth round. But Garcia said no mas, and Cortes remains undefeated. At the time of the stoppage, Cortes was ahead on two scorecards, and behind on the third.
“I was feeling myself, I was starting to find the groove. When that happens, the fight's over,” said Cortes. “It was a good stoppage, his eye was messed up.”
Garcia later said, “The cut wasn't good either. That wasn't the reason. When he came to the corner, I told him you're better than what you're doing. He told me it was my call, he didn't respond with what I wanted to hear.
“It didn't look good and he didn't tell me, ‘No Robert, I want to continue.' I want to protect my fighter, I don't want him to get hurt. I don't think the last few rounds were going to be any different. I want to see my fighter go home to his family, not to the hospital,” concluded Garcia.
Polanco Pounds Francis
Junior welterweight Rohan Polanco of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (10-0, 6 KOs) now has double-digit professional wins after a fifth-round TKO over César Francis of Brooklyn (12-2, 7 KOs).
Polanco scored a knockdown at the end of the fourth round, letting his hands go to land a left hook to the temple and a hard right hand. Polanco got to recover in the corner before the fifth round. Polanco added bodywork and dropped Francis again. Francis beat the count, but as he looked to trainer Nacho Berestain for instructions, referee Robert Hoyle waved off the fight at 1:05 of the fifth. Francis didn't argue the point.
Abraham Nova Gets Back On Track
Lightweight Abraham Nova of Albany, New York (23-1, 16 KOs) bounced back with the kind of performance he needed, showing up and blasting through former world champion Jonathan Romero of Cali, Colombia (35-2, 19 KOs) in three rounds. Nova dropped Romero in the second round and made it stick with another vicious knockdown in round three.
Benjamin and Langston Fight To Draw
Light heavyweight prospect Dante Benjamin Jr. of Cleveland (7-0-1, 5 KOs) got a stiff challenge from William Langston of Kenosha, Wisconsin (8-3-1, 5 KOs). Benjamin patiently worked through the early rounds. Langston stepped it up midway through the six-round bout, finding success going to the body and pushing Benjamin to a majority draw with scores 57-57 on two cards and the third for Langston at 58-56. Benjamin was fortunate he didn't give up his undefeated record. He will have a lot to review and work on.
Murata, Sheehy Score Knockout Wins
Japanese junior featherweight Subaru Murata of Tokyo (5-0, 5 KOs) remained perfect, putting a hurt on Juan Centeno of Managua, Nicaragua (8-9-3, 1 KO) in the first two rounds. Centeno informed referee Raul Caiz Jr. he could not come out for the third round, giving Murata the TKO victory.
Charlie Sheehy of Brisbane, California (7-0, 5 KOs) made quick work of Kaylyn Alfred of Louisiana (4-5-2) with a vicious lead hook for a third-round knockout in the card's opening bout.