Seniesa Estrada aims to become inaugural Ring champion against Tina Rupprecht
Seniesa Estrada is a believer in new beginnings, which is why she is very excited for what this new stage of her career will bring.
Estrada, the WBA world strawweight titleholder, will face WBC titleholder Tina Rupprecht in a world unification fight Saturday night at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California. The 10-round bout will precede the main event bout between former world unified junior welterweight titleholder Jose Ramirez and Richard Commey.
Both fights will air live on ESPN (10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT).
The bout between Estrada and Rupprecht will crown the inaugural Ring strawweight champion. Estrada and Rupprecht are currently rated No. 1 and 3, respectively.
Estrada (23-0, 9 knockouts), who resides in East Los Angeles, has become one of the most popular female fighters over the last couple of years. Estrada has also become one of the faces in women’s boxing, a group that includes lightweight Katie Taylor, middleweight Claressa Shields, junior lightweight Alycia Baumgardner, junior welterweight Chantelle Cameron, featherweight Amanda Serrano, super middleweight Franchon Crews Dezurn, all of whom are undisputed Ring champions, and close friend and former Ring junior lightweight titleholder Mikaela Mayer.
The 30-year-old last fought on November 12, defeating Argentina’s Jazmin Gala Villarino by decision over 10 one-sided rounds. The win over Gala Villarino was her Top Rank debut after fighting most of her fights under the Golden Boy Promotions banner.
Estrada was pleased with the win, but felt she could have performed better.
“I was definitely nervous and I definitely felt the ring rust after being off for 11 months,” Estrada told The Ring in a recent interview. “That’s what kind of made me more nervous is knowing that I don’t know how I’m going to feel when stepping in the ring after being off for that long. A lot of people don’t know or understand that ring rust doesn’t come from your punches or your upper body because I landed 50 percent of my power punches. I was able to do what I wanted with my upper body and my hands but the ring rust comes from your legs and from your feet. It’s your legs where you feel the ring rust.
“That’s definitely where I felt it, even though I defeated my opponent every single round. Easily. I wasn’t able to do the certain things that I wanted to do that make me who I am. After the fight, I was like, ‘Okay, I got the win.’ I’m just ready to move forward and prepare for these big fights that I have coming up. And I know stepping into the ring this time, that ring rust is gone. That feeling is gone and I’m ready to take over the division.”
Rupprecht (12-0-1, 3 KOs) will be attempting to make the fifth defense of her WBC title. Rupprecht, also 30, will be fighting for the second time outside Germany and for the first time in the United States.
Although Estrada is the favorite going in, she wants to make a statement Saturday night. Estrada wants to put forth the best and most complete performance of her career at the expense of Rupprecht.
“It’s the biggest fight of my career,” said Estrada, who is managed by Jerry Cazarez. “I’ve been so mentally focused and I know that becoming a unified champion is what’s going to get me to become undisputed next. And that’s what I want. I want to be undisputed. I want to be the best and No. 1 in this division. This fight is extremely important to me and I’ve been working so hard to make sure that I’m the best me.
“This fight has been totally different. I’ve been training hard, if not harder, for this fight because I want to fight her a certain way. This is one of those fights where I don’t want to give away anything I’m going to do because I want her to think that I’m going to go in there and be the fighter that they expect me to be. This training camp has been more mentally exhausting than physically because with every sparring session and every training session, I’m going there and making sure that I’m doing these right things that I need to do in the fight in order to beat Tina. I can beat her a certain way but I don’t want to beat her that way. I want to beat her in a way no one has ever beaten her before. I want to show how skilled I am, how good I am and how she’s an ordinary fighter.”
A win over Rupprecht would put Estrada on a collision course with Yokasta Valle, who holds the IBF and WBO world title belts. A clash for all the world title belts and the undisputed championship would be huge in Southern California, where Estrada lives and where Valle has recently fought most of her bouts.
Ironically, Valle fights this Saturday as well in her adopted hometown of San Jose, Costa Rica. She will defend both her IBF and WBO world title belts against unbeaten Jessica Basulto Salazar of Mexico.
Both Estrada and Valle have had a war of words in recent months. Estrada welcomes the fight against Valle and wants to prove she is the better overall fighter between the two.
“I would want that fight to happen after this unification fight with Tina,” said Estrada. “It’s a fight I’ve been wanting for a long time. I remember going into the Golden Boy office two to three years ago and telling (then matchmaker) Robert Diaz I wanted to fight Valle. He replied, ‘Who’s Valle?’ and I replied that she was the IBF champion from Costa Rica. He said, ‘Okay, let me look into it and I’ll contact her team and I’ll try to make the fight happen.’ We tried to make that fight happen two different times, but for whatever reason, it didn’t happen.
“I know she’s been vocal, saying that she called me out, which is not true because two to three years ago, I tried to make the fight happen. She has said I’m scared and I’m not afraid of anybody. That’s where I have to get vocal and I have to say the truth of how long I’ve been wanting to fight her. I’m not afraid of anybody. If there’s anybody that I’m ever going to be afraid of, it’s definitely not going to be her because I’ve watched her fight. The skill level between her and I is completely different.”
After her split from Golden Boy last year, reportedly due to a difference in the way she was being promoted, Estrada currently feels more at peace. From making her pro debut as an 18-year-old to being on the cusp of dominating an entire division, Estrada does not plan on slowing down.
“I (feel) great. I feel like everything has really come together for me, not only outside of the ring, but inside of the ring. Of course, there’s some obstacles that I had to go through. Now that I’m back on track, I feel like this is the beginning to a great career and great things, not only inside of the ring, but outside of the ring. With the support of Top Rank, the sky’s the limit. I feel this is where I belong. This is where I should be with Top Rank, with this ESPN platform, with everything that’s going to bring to my career and to my life.
“This is where I belong.”
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]