Monday, September 25, 2023  |



Seniesa Estrada begins new chapter with Top Rank tonight

Seniesa Estrada (left) and Jazmin Gala Villarino pose during the press conference prior to their November 12 WBA strawweight title fight in Las Vegas. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)
Fighters Network

As one chapter in the life of Seniesa Estrada ends, another begins tonight.

Estrada, the Ring Magazine No. 1 ranked female fighter at 105 pounds and No. 7 pound-for-pound, will defend her WBA strawweight title against Jazmin Gala Villarino at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. The 10-round bout will precede the main event bout between WBO world middleweight titleholder Zhanibek Alimkhanuly and Denzel Bentley.

Both fights will stream live on ESPN+ (11 p.m. ET/ 8 p.m. PT).

At Friday’s weigh-in, Estrada weighed in at 103.8 pounds. Gala Villarino weighed in at the strawweight limit of 105 pounds.

Tonight’s fight will be the first under the multi-year promotional deal Estrada signed with Top Rank in July. Tonight will also her first fight since December 18, when she knocked out Maria Santizo in the fourth round.

Estrada (22-0, 8 knockouts), who resides in East Los Angeles, California, has been eager to get back in the ring and continue with her career.

“I feel very excited,” Estrada told The Ring earlier this week. “I just feel more motivated. I’ve always been motivated and I work very hard, but it’s even more motivation now to be back and to be with Top Rank on this great platform and to have their support behind me. I’m back better than ever. I can’t wait to prove that and show it to everyone.

“I definitely feel much more comfortable and confident with I’m at now. [With Top Rank], I know when I’m fighting, and stuff like that. With Top Rank wanting to help me accomplish my goals and being undisputed in three different weight divisions, after this fight, my plan is to have my first unification fight, it’s just great to be back with someone who believes in my talent and abilities in what I can do and what I can bring to the table. I couldn’t be happier.

Estrada, who has also won a world title belt at 108 pounds, has seen who Top Rank promoted the career of Mikaela Mayer, the former unified world titleholder at 130 pounds. Mayer lost by split decision in her last fight to Alycia Baumgardner on October 15.

According to Estrada, Top Rank was able to maximize Mayer’s talent and brought her exposure fighting in ESPN platforms. Estrada is confident Top Rank could also elevate her exposure in the sport, but it was a chance encounter with Mayer that gave her more confidence in dealing with how her professional career is moved.

“I’ve always watched how Top Rank moved Mikaela’s career,” said Estrada, who is managed by Jerry Cazarez. “I thought they did a great and amazing job with her. I’ve always been a fan of Mikaela Mayer, even before she turned pro. Watching her in the pros and seeing how they moved her career, showing her a lot of love and good exposure, it’s something I always recognized. Now that I’m with Top Rank, in the same position as Mikaela and having them support me, [the] sky is the limit as to what I can do.

“The Katie Taylor-Amanda Serrano fight was the first we actually met. I knew of her before that. I would see her at [amateur] tournaments, but we never talked or anything. So [the Taylor-Serrano] fight was the first time we actually talked in person. We were Instagram friends before that and we would talk through there, but that was it. But through that fight, it was the first time meeting each other and it was during that time I was going through my contract dispute with Golden Boy. Talking with Mikaela and hearing her advice and everything she had to say kind of made me feel more comfortable with my situation. As far as me sitting out from fighting, [it] just made me feel more confident and better about my choice of doing that.”

The 30-year-old Estrada went through a contract dispute with Golden Boy Promotions earlier this year. According to Estrada, she wanted to fight more in the Los Angeles area and felt she was not receiving purses that were aligned with her worth as a world titleholder.

As much as she held out hope a deal could be worked out with Golden Boy, whom she began fighting for in 2018, Estrada felt the best option for her was to move on. Top Rank providing an ESPN platform and reportedly more fight cards taking place next year in Southern California sold Estrada.

“I would love to fight more in Los Angeles [and] in Southern California,” said Estrada. “There’s no better place than L.A. I felt that when we [Golden Boy and I] were talking, I was saying how I didn’t feel that they had me fight in L.A. or in Southern California. And the one fight I did fight in L.A. (July 9 of last year), I was fighting in the opening bout of a card and I was fighting during the daytime. On a Friday. Little things like that made me feel frustrated. I was told reasons why they couldn’t pay me more. ‘You couldn’t sell out of Banc of California [Stadium in Los Angeles].’ Again, I was fighting in the opening bout when the sun was out. They weren’t utilizing me to my full potential to fight in L.A. I would love to fight more in L.A. That’s where my fan base is.”

Estrada hopes to begin unifying the 105-pound division early next year. She is expected to get by Gala Villarino (6-1-2, 1 KO), who is unbeaten since losing her pro debut in 2016.

Estrada is confident she could become an undisputed champion and continue making fan-friendly fights.

“I would like to face the WBC 105-pound champion, who is from Germany. Tina Rupprecht. I would like to fight her next. Hopefully, that would be the fight to get in the beginning of 2023. After that, I would like to go after Yokasta Valle (who has the IBF and WBO title belts). Then I would be undisputed at 105.

“As long as I keep working hard and keep putting on good, exciting performances, I think I can elevate women’s boxing so much more.”

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]