Sunday, June 16, 2024  |


Marlen Esparza lifts WBC flyweight title from Ibeth Zamora, Blair Cobbs stops Brad Solomon

Marlen Esparza
Fighters Network

Marlen Esparza had to walk through fire but her night ended with the coveted green belt hanging on her right shoulder.

The 2012 Olympic bronze medalist bounced back from a first-round knockdown to dethrone Ibeth Zamora by unanimous decision to snag the WBC flyweight title.

Judge Daniel Sandoval scored the fight a shockingly wide 97-92, Wilfredo Esperon had it 95-94, and Robert Velez tallied it 96-94, all for Esparza, who collected her third consecutive victory following a nine-round technical decision loss to unbeaten Seniesa Estrada in November 2019.

The 10-round bout took place on the undercard of the 12-round middleweight main event featuring Jaime Munguia and Kamil Szeremeta.

The fans let Esparza know that they were not pleased with the decision, but the newly-minted champion did her best to shake it off.

“It was difficult,” Esparza said to a chorus of boos. “It’s boxing. I understand why people [thought] she was aggressive, but she really wasn’t landing what she looked like she was landing. It was a lot on the outside. We worked on it.

“The only thing she did do different was that first shot. I didn’t expect her to come out [like that]. She’s a very, very good opponent and made [the fight] a lot more difficult than I [expected].

Most ringside observers felt the 32-year-old Zamora (32-7, 12 KOs) won the fight. And to add insult to injury, it was also her first time visiting the U.S. Now she heads back home to Mexico without her title, which she earned in November 2018 with a unanimous decision victory against Chaoz Minowa in her native country before making two successful defenses.

Esparza opened the fight with a big head of steam, but Zamora extinguished the hot start with a counter overhand right that sent Esparza to the canvas.

“I was really just talking to God, like ‘Woah, this is where we’re at; this is what we’re doing, this is what we’ve trained for,'” Esparza recollected. “I want all the belts. I want everything. And that’s all I was really telling myself.”

In round four, Zamora caught Esparza again with her chin in the air late, rocking her to the boots with a sharp left hook.

However, in rounds seven and eight, Esparza (10-1, 1 KO), 31, of Houston, Texas, outboxed the defending beltholder and forced Zamora to walk into sharp jabs and right hands.

Prior to the beginning of the 10th round, there was some confusion as Esparza and her team thought the fight was over and began celebrating.

Zamora outworked Esparza in the final round as both fighters slugged to the final bell.

Esparza again reiterated that she wants to become the undisputed champion.

“I really just want all the belts, to be honest,” she added. “Unless it’s gonna be a title eliminator or the world champion, I don’t wanna hear about it; I don’t want to know it.

“We’ll get to Seniesa when we get to Seniesa. If she’s in that line, she’s in that line. I have a lot of belts to win, and I have a lot of improvements to make.”

In undercard action, welterweight standout Blair “The Flair” Cobbs scored a fifth-round stoppage of veteran Brad Solomon to score the biggest win of his eight-year pro career.

“It was an electrifying performance, baby!” Cobbs exclaimed. “How do you like it?! Give me a woo!

“[Solomon] is a very good top contender. He is able to make even the best of em very, very boring. And he can take the sting out of almost anybody in there, except for Blair “The Flair” hoo!”