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Not this time 
By Ewan Whyte
April 26, 2007


Yazmín Rivas's dad celebrates his birthday this week. Before setting out for Argentina, she promised him that as a present she'd bring him back the WBA belt. "And what I promise," she told journalists (with all the smugness of youth), "I deliver."

Well, not this time. Last Friday, the young Mexican flew home from Mendoza empty-handed. So the old man, I guess, will just have to make do with braces (or "suspenders", as you Americans call them). 

All the same, you have to love her. Not because she's attractive – though she is, (extremely!); nor even because she's witty and sweet; but because she's heroic. Perhaps, without at all being a braggart, she has – or had – a slightly exaggerated opinion of her skills as a boxer, and clearly she underestimated her opponent; but there's a hint of gloating – of "Marcela soon showed her!"– in some of the Argentinian reports that isn't called for. The truth is: women can't tell in this sport how they stack up against fighters they've never seen, since there's so little data upon which to base a judgement. Rivas flew three thousand miles, right into the lion's – or, in this case, Tigress's – den, without any real idea what awaited her. She got a shock. The fight was barely a minute old when she sank to one knee, head bowed – it so looked so-o-o like a curtsy – with Acuña's words from earlier in the week, one imagines, ringing in her ears: "The only queen here is me!"

It wasn't, of course, what it looked like. Yazmín Rivas doesn't surrender; she may even be the bravest woman in the world. "I was just trying to clear my head,"she explained afterwards. "I was getting steamrollered. " But by the time she rose on the count of six, both women knew their roles; and the question was no longer who would punish whom (and with what severity) but whether or not Acuña would break her spirit; and in this, she was unsuccessful. Rivas knows she was beaten by a better fighter; she admitted it; but, as she pointed out: "I'm only nineteen. I've got a long road ahead of me."

So we haven't heard the last of "La Rusita". There will be other birthdays, and Señor Rivas may yet get that belt.

Since no one (in all Argentina!) has been public-spirited enough to upload the telecast to You Tube, we'll just have to piece together what we can from the published reports, of which there are far too many (I've counted 30 already) to look at in full. Instead, I've cherry-picked a few phrases but without attempting to reconcile the occasional, and inevitable, contradictions; we all see these things differently, and everything in boxing happens so fast . Furthermore, just as some people can't distinguish red from green (or Coke from Pepsi), there are actually people in this world who don't know left from right. The numbers in square brackets refer to the sources listed at the bottom.

*          *          *          *          *

"The years, her experience, her confidence and the relentless efficiency of her work were the standards La Tigresa, Marcela Eliana Acuña, unfurled on Friday evening as she administered a thrashing to young Yazmín Rivas Hernández of Mexico."[5] "The Tigress proved she's a legitimate champion."[7] "The Formosan not only defended her title but also turned in one of the best performances of her career."[4] "With the local spectators chanting her name throughout the fight,"[7] "the world champion showed no mercy whatsoever to her Aztec challenger, who at no stage was able to contain or neutralize the relentless attacks of the Argentinian."[5] "The virulent, sustained aggression we'd seen before. What was new in the boxing of Acuña tonight was the quality of her defence: the way she deflected and blocked punches, which was all of the highest level."[4] "The Argentinian dominated throughout."[6] Or, as the tabloid "Crónica" put it: "Acuña gave Yazmín Rivas one hell of a hiding."

Copyrighted photo:  Los Andes Online

"The Tigress opened in awesome fashion – a real demolition job. The initial seconds saw multiple blows impacting the face of the Mexican."[1] "With the frenetic dynamism of her attacks and the accuracy of her punching, the champion was repeatedly able to breach the somewhat static defences of the challenger."[3] "Taken by surprise, Rivas was simply overwhelmed. With barely a minute elapsed, Acuña dropped her with a very interesting combination: two hooks to the more tender regions (for Bertolotti: "the solar plexus") followed by a fulminating right cross that she took full in the face."[9] "Rivas sank to one knee, with the Tigress hovering above her, eager to resume the punishment"[1] "but stood up as referee Aníbal Andrade reached a count of six. "[6] "This first round went 20 seconds over the regulation two minutes, but the girl from Torreón held out."[11] "To all intents and purposes, her challenge ended with this seismic first round."[8] "She managed the ghost of a recovery thereafter, but her audacity was gone."[5]

"As the second round opened, Rivas's cheekbones were already inflamed, revealing the punishment to which she was being subjected by the Argentinian, who invariably had the last word in the exchanges, dominating at close quarters as well as long range."[1] "The knockout seemed to be imminent when a straight left followed by a cross staggered the Mexican girl, but Acuña failed to accelerate and gave the challenger time to recover."[9] "Acuña built solidly on her early advantage with a sustained offensive – perhaps overly concentrated on the head – encountering little resistance from Rivas. The visitor, even though she had good technique, was totally unable to cope with the speed and precision of the champion."[2] "By now comfortably in charge, Acuña dropped the pace a little in the third and fourth rounds to take a breather."[1] (Mendoza is in the foothills of the Andes at an altitude of 760 metres). "The Tigress's footwork was excellent and she was constantly looking for the body of her opponent, exploiting every opening with which she was presented."[3] "Defensively, Acuña deflected many of the incoming blows and never allowed the powerful Mexican girl to complicate her task. "[1] "As round succeeded round, the dominance of the champion assumed gigantic proportions, and we were all waiting for her to fulfil her oft-repeated promise to knock Rivas out."[5] "By the halfway mark, the Tigress had established total supremacy, and was waiting for the right moment to pounce and deliver the final blow."[3]

"There were moments, though, when Acuña seemed reluctant to take risks, mindful perhaps of the fact that she was way ahead on points. In the sixth round, she connected with a tremendous right cross to the cheekbone that wobbled the challenger, before subjecting her to a sustained, intemperate assault, but the Mexican neither yielded nor fell, and in the end, it was the champion that relented."[9] "Marcela 'spared her life', letting her escape when she could have finished her. Although hurt, Rivas even managed a few counters."[1] "If the men in Mexico are tough, Mexican women are no less so. This was without question the most difficult opponent Acuña has faced in the last two years."[7] "It was pure heart – that and her youth – that allowed her to survive."[11]

"The woman from Formosa won every round except perhaps the seventh, in which La Rusita – by now recovered – responded magnificently, but in the eighth and ninth, she was just getting pulverized. The Argentinian did everything well, maintaining the right distance, controlling the tempo and displaying real speed. Rivas, on the other hand, relied too heavily on her right uppercut, though she was invariably too far from Acuña to make it tell."[7] "The Mexican was never able to close the distance or neutralize the powerful right cross of the Argentinian."[8] "Furthermore, the pressure from the champion was such as to leave her little opportunity to counter."[7]

"With rights and lefts, to both the head and the body, and fleet, ravaging combinations, the world champion pitilessly enfeebled and bled the challenger of resolve."[5] "The Argentinian found the range with her jab, leaving Rivas a sitting duck for crosses and straight lefts to the face. She also moved intelligently, frustrating all attempts by the challenger to close the distance and draw her into a slugfest, this by now being her only remaining chance of turning the fight around."[9] "It was obvious why Rivas fought earlier in her career in a lower weight category: every time Acuña threw a cross, it stopped her dead in her tracks, and when she hit her in the belly, she buckled."[11] "By now, the Mexican girl was only half in the fight: her morale had been so severely eroded that it wasn't until the last round that she began to come forward, with a weary desperation upon which Acuña swiftly capitalized. Fortunately for Rivas, time ran out before the champion could render her hors de combat."[3]

"For the Formosan, all that was missing was a knockout to bring her night's work to a spectacular conclusion."[10] 

*          *          *          *          *


[1] A La Tigresa Acuña sólo le faltó noquear ("…all that was missing was the knockout.") Jorge Luciano Bertolotti [Diario Uno de Mendoza]

[2] Acuña le dio flor de paliza a Yazmin Rivas ("Acuña gives Yazmin Rivas one hell of a hiding") [Crónica]

[3] La Tigresa Acuña conservó su título del mundo ("La Tigresa Acuña retains her world title") [TyC Sports]

[4] Un hecho histórico y popular ("A historic and popular event") Jorge Luciano Bertolotti [Diario Uno de Mendoza]

[5] Garras de Tigresa ("The paws of the Tigress") [Ciudadano Diario]

[6] Rusita’ no puede quedarse con el título ("La Rusita fails in her title bid") [El Siglo de Torreón]

[7] La Tigresa ratificó que es una campeona de ley ("The Tigress proves that she's a legitimate champion") [Los Andes]

[8] Marcela Acuña dominó a Yazmín Rivas ("Marcel Acuña subdues Yazmín Rivas") Juan E. Brignone [Notifight]

[9] Un trámite para La Tigresa ("A formality for the Tigress") Uriel Ianovsky [Ring de Ideas]

[10] Acuña retuvo su corona AMB ("Acuña retains her WBA crown") [Boxeo-boxing]

[11] Tigresa infernal ("Tigress from hell") Lucio Ortiz "[Olé]

*          *          *          *          *

 Comments of the fighters

"I lost to a great champion; but I'm still only 19, so I've a long road ahead of me."[Rivas]

 "This was, without a shadow of doubt, my best performance to date. If some of the journalists in the capital who enjoy denigrating my boxing had been here this evening, they would have seen that I'm a complete boxer. I'm satisfied with the work I did. Admittedly, I failed to knock her out – but that's only because she took everything I could throw at her."[Acuña]

 *          *          *          *          *

For the WBA super bantamweight title

Champion: Marcela Eliana Acuña ("La Tigresa") (30) (55 kg) (Formosa, Argentina)

Challenger: Yazmín Rivas Hernández ("La Rusita") (19) (55,3 kg) (Ejido Las Playitas, Durango, Mexico)

Date: 20th April 2007

Venue: Estadio Andes Talleres Sport Club, Godoy Cruz, Mendoza (Argentina)

Gate: 4,000+ (a sell out)

Referee: Aníbal Andrade


Héctor Primerazo (Argentina) : 99-90 for Acuña
Gustavo Estrella (Argentina) :   99-90 for Acuña
Héctor de León (Uruguay) :     100-89 for Acuña 

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