Yokasta Valle (right) lands a punch on Lorraine Villalobos (left) Photo by Brandon Rivas/ MarvNation Promotions

The month of September in this year of 2022 is destined to be one of the biggest months in history for women’s boxing, with a handful of title bouts promising some of the best action that women’s boxing can offer.

And one of the first of such events will feature the return of one of the best fighters in the lower divisions when IBF strawweight titlist Yokasta Valle (25-2, 9 KOs) returns to action in her hometown of San Jose, Costa Rica to face her undefeated WBO counterpart Thi Thu Nhi Nguyen (5-0, 1 KOs) of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

The 10-round clash that will be the first-ever unification match in the country’s history, and will take place at Ciudad Deportiva Heiner Ugalde, Hatillo, San José, Costa Rica on Thursday, Sept. 8. The bout will broadcast live on DAZN, the Golden Boy Boxing YouTube page, and the Marvnation YouTube page starting at 6:00 p.m. PT / 9:00 p.m. ET.

And although this will be just another defense to add to the previous four defenses that Valle had in her adoptive country (she was born in neighboring Nicaragua some 30 years ago), this time it feels different.

Yokasta Valle – Photo courtesy of Golden Boy Boxing

“First of all, having Golden Boy is a great support and a great motivation,” said the champ, mentioning her ties with the L.A.-based company, which started in her last bout back in June. “This is a great responsibility that I take as a great motivation to continue being a champion. I am always training and getting ready.

“I had only a short notice before my first fight (under Golden Boy, against Lorraine Villalobos) but I said “yes!,” and went on to defend my title. I am always ready, I am always training, and I wanted to demonstrate who is Yokasta Valle. I know that if they just give me an opportunity they will fall in love with me (laughs).”

Valle’s successful defense against Villalobos earned her a lot of fans in the States, despite her foe’s lackluster performance.

“I knew I was fighting a local fighter and she had her people there, but after the fourth or fifth round I knew I had her, and I knew the people liked it because they were watching a great fight. I demonstrated what I am made of. And now, fighting in Costa Rica is a big responsibility but I don’t see it that way. It is a historic situation for Costa Rica, to show that such a small country can have a champion, and that we have so many other champions that I know are coming up.”

Fighting at home with a world-class company behind her and with her fight being broadcasted by an international platform like DAZN is a welcome change in her routine. After failing to win a title in her first two tries abroad back in 2017 and 2018, Valle found her third-time charm in Spain when she finally defeated Joanna Pastrana in Spain in 2019 for the belt she is still holding. And now, having the chance to finally add another belt in front of her hometown fans carries a special feeling.

“In my career I have always managed pressure really well,” said Valle, who always managed to leave a great impression abroad even in her defeats. “It is not easy, but every time I get in the ring, I never think about this. I never go ‘oh, now I have to win, and do this or demonstrate that,’ nothing like that. I set out to enjoy it. I am always confident because of my great preparation, my corner. I always get up there in fighting mode, ready to give it all and enjoy it, every second of it.”

The other side of being a globetrotter who fought some of her most important fights abroad is that Valle knows quite well the kind of mentality that Nguyen will bring into this fight, and what it takes to neutralize it.

“Of course. I’ve been in her position, and being the visitor one is very motivated, because you always think that in order to win abroad you have to win every round,” said Valle. “And for me it’s the same. Even when I am fighting in my own country, anybody would think that I am relaxed. On the contrary! I will leave everything in the ring from the first round, and I don’t want to leave anything in the judges’ hands. I am known for being an aggressive fighter who throws a lot of punches. I’ve practiced a lot on my accuracy, and I know it’s going to be a great fight, it’s one of those fights that excite me. What excites me is giving people a great show, not only Costa Rica, but all over the world.”

The risk of having a bad night in front of her people is too big to take it lightly, so Valle has studied her opponent thoroughly.

“We studied her a lot. Since she has a style rooted in Olympic-style boxing, she shows pauses and spaces when you throw a lot of punches. We have to land our combinations on her. Lots of footwork, lots of jabs. She’s good at that, she’s great at establishing a distance. Her jab is her strength. We have worked on all that, footwork, bobbing and weaving, just keeping her guessing and throwing punches to the air.”

Yokasta Valle (left) and Thi Thu Nhi Nguyen (right) before their IBF/WBO unification bout in Costa Rica – Photo courtesy of Golden Boy Boxing

For Valle, not only the two belts at stake are what motivates her. There is also the big-picture prospect of having a mega-fight for all the marbles against reigning WBA titlist Seniesa Estrada, a bout that appeared to be on its way when Valle signed with Golden Boy, but has now grown more difficult to make since Estrada’s departure to Top Rank.

Valle dismisses those roadblocks instantly.

“I know that the fight against Estrada will happen soon,” says Valle. “She wants to unify world titles, I want to do that too. It is a fight that we cannot just allow to not happen. If she wants to face the best, here I am. Right now I will be fighting Nguyen, and hopefully this will bring me my second world title. She is a great fighter, she deserves all my respect. She is a world champ for a reason. And even though she has only 5 professional fights… that means a lot! I see her as a sort of Vasyl Lomachenko type, because she became champion with only a few professional fights but she has a lot of amateur fights. I’ve been training really hard in Los Angeles with my new trainer Gloria (Alvarado), just so I can enjoy myself when I am in the ring.”

All that motivation to get that extra belt against Estrada leads also to another belt that is awaiting the winner of that fight. Since Estrada is rated No. 1 by The Ring at strawweight and Valle is No. 2, an eventual clash between them would crown the inaugural Ring magazine champion at that weight.

The significance of that achievement is not lost to Valle.

“Yes, the one I want, and the one I am almost ready to get!!,” exclaims Valle, at the mere mention of the fabled “Rocky” belt. “What more motivation do I need? Since I saw ‘Rocky,’ I said ‘wow, this is the title I want, the one from The Ring!’ It has so much prestige. I want to make history, I want to be the first to have it at 105. I want it badly, and I already visualize it in my hands. I know I can do it, and that’s why I am training so hard for this fight and stay rated so I can win it. It is a lot of motivation to win this fight, believe me.”

Diego M. Morilla writes for The Ring since 2013. He also wrote for HBO.com, ESPN.com and many other magazines, websites, newspapers and other outlets since 1993. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and an elector for the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He has won two first-place awards in the BWAA’s annual writing contest, and he is the moderator of The Ring’s Women’s Ratings Panel. He served as copy editor for the second era of The Ring en Español (2018-2020) and is currently a writer and editor for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter @MorillaBoxing

close



LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here