SAN ANTONIO – There will come a day when Marlen Esparza seeks to avenge her lone career defeat.
For now, it’s just not a part of her immediate goals.
The 2012 Olympic Bronze medalist and now the unified WBC/WBA flyweight queen envisions a 2022 campaign that ends with all of the divisional hardware in her possession. Houston’s Esparza is now halfway there after outpointing legendary five-division titlist Naoko Fujioka to claim the WBA belt while making the second defense of her WBC title in their April 9 unification bout at Alamodome in San Antonio.
The win was Esparza’s fifth straight following a technical decision points loss to Seniesa Estrada in their terrific November 2019 firefight in Las Vegas. East Los Angeles’ Estrada (22-0, 9KOs) claimed an interim flyweight title that night, having since claimed full belts at strawweight and junior flyweight while emerging as a leading pound-for-pound entrant.
Esparza (12-1, 1KO) claimed her first title midway through her current win streak, a ten-round decision over Ibeth Zamora to win the WBC flyweight belt last June in El Paso. Two defenses have followed, with her sights now set on the IBF and WBO straps.
“Undisputed, for sure,” Esparza told BoxingScene.com of her preference between winning all of the belts and avenging her defeat to Estrada. “I want to get the other two belts to become undisputed.
“Then Seniesa’s gonna be the cherry on top—a little bitty 108 cherry.”
The remaining two belts reside in Argentina. Leona Paola Yudica (17-0-3, 0KOs) has made nine successful defenses of the IBF flyweight title she has held since December 2014, though having never fought outside of South America. Tamara Elisabet Demarco (10-4, 0KOs) scored a technical decision win over countrywoman and then-unbeaten WBO titlist Deborah Anahi Lopez (20-0-1 at the time) in a stunning upset this past March 19.
Esparza is backed by Golden Boy Promotions and DAZN, both of whom continue to invest heavily into women’s boxing. It’s plausible that the resources will be there to bring the other titleholders to the U.S., even if there is a straight line to a rematch with Estrada. Both fighters are promoted by Golden Boy and fight on DAZN, where Estrada also regularly serves as an expert analyst during its broadcasts including Saturday’s show featuring Esparza.
Money and demand will ultimately dictate what the future holds, though Esparza will continue to do what she can to increase leverage in a second fight that becomes more relevant with each win by both.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox