Women’s Ratings Update: Yokasta Valle jumps to No. 2 at strawweight
Two explosive performances in the past week have placed two rising stars under the spotlight in the realm of women’s boxing.
In the junior featherweight division, Venezuela’s Mayerlin Rivas scored a bruising demolition win over a willing but outgunned Karina Fernandez in Mexico. The local fighter suffered a ghastly nose injury from which she never recovered, and Rivas (a super tough fighter with a deceptive record that includes a handful of loses abroad against top opposition) showcased her power and great boxing skills, honed during years of fighting away from home in search of opportunities.
Was her performance good enough to earn her a spot in our Top 5?
“I believe Rivas is in the Top 5,” said Japanese writer Yuriko Miyata. “Rivas impressed people who watched her performance, including me.” And columnist Mark Jones stated that “I favor moving Mayerlin Rivas ahead of (Maureen) Shea into the No. 5 position at super bantamweight. She issued Karina Fernandez her first stoppage loss after previously lasting the distance against Jackie Nava and Yamileth Mercado. She looked very poised and dominated the action against a better opponent than Shea defeated in her last fight.”
Those opinions found some opposition during the debate.
“It is true that Fernandez was not the opposition that Mayerlin needs, but it was unknown how the Venezuelan would return after such a long layoff,” said Rincon Rojo magazine editor Irene Deserti. “Let’s hope we can see her take flight again,” said the writer, before voting to keep her out of the Top 5 for now.
Argentina’s Yesica Palmetta agreed in saying that “Mayerlin made an explosive return. She looked very solid, strong and fast. This has been one of the best presentations I’ve seen from her. But we need to wait to see what happens, and hopefully she doesn’t fall into those long layoffs again.”
In the end, there simply were not enough votes to promote Rivas into the top 5 of a stacked 122-pound division.
An agreement to promote a fighter was reached elsewhere, though.
Nicaraguan/Costa Rican titlist Yokasta Valle had an easy night against an easy opponent, defeating California’s Lorraine Villalobos to defend her belt in one of the smallest divisions in boxing. Although the level of opposition in this particular fight didn’t warrant it, the level of activity in Valle’s career and her willingness to take risks outweighed her loss to the current No. 2 (Germany’s Tina Rupprecht) and thus the IBF titlist was promoted to become only second to the current top player in the division, Seniesa Estrada.
This was Valle’s 12th win in the comeback trail after her loss to Rupprecht in 2018, and now she has had more wins since her loss to Rupprecht (12-0) than Rupprecht’s entire body of work as a professional fighter (11-0-1).
“I like Valle,” said historian Malissa Smith. “She is explosive, compact, and has a real fluid left hand that can quickly convert a jab to a left hook at distance before jumping in with the right. She’s a good choice to bring to the #2 spot in the strawweight division.”
Palmetta agreed by saying that “she’s a good fighter. I’d love to see Estrada with Valle! An interesting clash of styles. Valle has shown the kind of perseverance, continuity and courage that deserve to be acknowledged.”
In the lone dissident vote, Jones argued that “I like Yokasta Valle as a fighter, but she has been fed chiefly feeder fish to build a record that, on the surface, looks impressive but isn’t. Tina Rupprecht has a world title, has faced the better competition, and holds a 2018 decision victory over Valle.”