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Seniesa Estrada On Valle Showdown: ‘Was Really Going To Bother Me If This Fight Didn’t Happen’


Senisa Estrada displays her 105-pound titles after her hard-fought victory over Leonela Yudica. Photo by Mikael Ona for The Ring

Seniesa Estrada briefly agreed with the original plan of a tune-up to test out her repaired hand.

The concept never sat well with her for very long. In fact, Estrada (25-0, 9 knockouts), The Ring 105-pound champ and No. 5 pound-for-pound, literally lost sleep over it. There was only one fight to begin her 2024 campaign to put her mind ease.

A grudge match with Yokasta Valle (30-2, 9 KOs), No. at 105 and No. 9 pound-for-pound, brewed for years. It is now one for which she no longer needs to wait.

“This fight is much bigger now and that’s why I wanted to go straight into it for my first fight this year,” Estrada told The Ring. “I went to sleep thinking about it and waking up thinking about it. It was really going to bother me if this fight didn’t happen.

“The type of fighter I am, I need to be in the biggest fights possible. I needed to be undisputed years ago but I’m glad it’s happening now.”

Estrada-Valle will take place this Friday on from Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona. Estrada will defend her RING championship and WBC/WBA titles versus Valle, who risks her IBF and WBO belts.

The long-brewing showdown marks the first-ever undisputed 105-pound championship, male or female. That type of history is important to Estrada, who demanded to jump straight back into the mix after surgery.

Estrada last appeared in a July 28 win over former IBF flyweight titlist Leonela Yudica (20-2-3, 1 KO). It was her first RING championship defense and fourth as a major titlist but it came at a cost. The 31-year-old East Los Angeles damaged the knuckle and surrounding ligaments on her right hand. The multiple wounds required surgery which benched her for the remainder of the year.

It was decided as a team—upon post-surgery medical consultation—to ease her way back into the ring. A random title defense was discussed, though no particular opponent assigned at the time to her 2024 debut.

Estrada had one in mind, and it was anything but random.

“It was like a whole month that I thought about it. It bothered me because it didn’t feel right,” admitted Estrada, who is 6-0 in major title fights. “I didn’t want to just make a title defense. I want this to be the biggest year possible for me. My goal is to win Fighter of the Year this year. I can’t get there just doing [tune-ups] and fighting whoever.

“I want to be undisputed and go into the biggest fights there are, back-to-back-to-back. My team called Top Rank and told them we need to do the undisputed. I wanted a fight where I was going to be extremely motivated.”

There is no greater motivation than your top divisional rival.

Valle has brilliantly marketed her career, the past few years as Estrada’s most significant rival. The 31-year-old Nicaragua-born, Costa Rica based boxer is a three-division titlist and has won seventeen straight.

The past several years has seen both Estrada and Valle forced to discuss the other. No matter how the conversation would begin, it would always end with talks of a unification bout.

Both boxers raised the stakes in the past eighteen months.

Valle emerged as a big enough draw in Costa Rica to bring home a September 2022 IBF/WBO unification bout. A win over then-unbeaten Thi Thu Nhi Nguyen came three months after she signed with Golden Boy Promotions.

The timing was intentional. Estrada and Golden Boy were on the outs after four years of what previously seemed to be a perfect it. Valle was the perfect way to the fill the void when Estrada ultimately left in July 2022.

Two fights into her promotional deal with Top Rank, Estrada unified the WBC and WBA titles. Her shutout win over Tina Rupprecht was the perfect reminder that there are levels.

Germany’s Rupprecht (13-1-1, 3 KOs), No. 1 at 102, outclassed Valle in a June 2018 interim WBC title win. She was upgraded to full titlist and made five title defenses. Estrada barely broke a sweat in their unification fight, one year almost to the day of Friday’s undisputed showdown.

Ending lengthy title reigns has come naturally to Estrada.

Anabel Ortiz (33-6, 4 KOs), No. 3 at 105, won 21 straight and held the WBA strawweight title for eight years. Twelve title defenses came of her run before Estrada wiped her out in their March 2021 meeting.

Tenkai Tsunami (31-13-1, 19 KOs) held the WBO 108-pound title for three years before Estrada dethroned her in July 2021. It was a one-stop trip for Estrada, who returned to strawweight where she now attempts her fifth overall title defense.

Valle is the best-credentialed out of that crop, even with the head-to-head defeat to Rupprecht. She’s made ten defenses of the IBF belt she won in August 2019 on the road in Marbella, Spain. The last four came with the WBO belt at stake, all she ended Evelin Bermudez’s first IBF/WBO 108-pound titles.

“Yoka is the perfect opponent,” insisted Estrada. “We have our rivalry, and she has the remaining two titles I want. It’s why I didn’t want this to be just another fight.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for The Ring and vice president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.
Follow @JakeNDaBox

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