Evelin Bermudez has restored her unified title reign.
The 26-year-old Argentinean regained her IBF and WBO junior flyweight titles with a ten-round, unanimous decision victory over Tijuana’s Tania Enriquez. Scores were 96-94, 97-93 and 97-93 for Bermudez in their TyC Sports-aired main event from Estadio Luna Park in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The fight came less than four months after Bermudez saw her four-year title stay come to a close after a disappointing ten-round decision defeat to Yokasta Valle last November 26 in Carson, California. Valle became a three-division titlist with the win but opted to return to strawweight where she also holds the IBF and WBO belts, thus leaving the pair of junior flyweight titles up for grabs on Friday.
Enriquez boxed smoothly in the opening minute. The well-schooled southpaw—whose older sister Kenia Enriquez is a top flyweight contender—used her jab to set up long left hands while effectively slipping Bermudez’s counters. Bermudez closed the gap in a big way later in the frame. The local favorite connected with consecutive right hands and later drove Enriquez to the ropes.
Everything that Enriquez sought to accomplish in the opening two minutes played out for nearly the entirety of round two. Bermudez reached with her right hand, to which Enriquez made her pay with quick combinations and slick head movement whenever her opponent offered return fire.
Bermudez continued to fall short with her right hand early in round three. Enriquez would jab her way inside and then take a half-step back to avoid the former champ’s incoming right hand. Bermudez upped her infighting skills, as she dodged a left hand after literally letting her guard down.
Enriquez used every inch of the ring though without running, throughout the fourth round. Bermudez looked to serve as the aggressor but struggled to land her power shots. Enriquez frequently scored with her jab and right hand. Bermudez managed two clean right hands late in the round but missed wildly after winding up her shot.
Both fighters looked to establish their hooks in round five. Enriquez was wide and off the mark with her right hook, often catching air after pawing with straight lefts. Bermudez threw her left hook over the top before reverting back to straight right hands which Enriquez often dodged and responded with straight left, right hook combinations. A brief clash of heads left Bermudez with a cut just above the bridge of her nose.
Bermudez did a much better job with timing Enriquez’s lateral movement in round six. Greater consistency with her right hand forced Enriquez to move to Bermudez’s right, where she walked into the former champ’s left hook. Enriquez adjusted in round seven and immediately landed a straight left hand. She frequently beat Bermudez to the punch, throwing tight combinations down the middle. Bermudez dramatically turned the tide with a right hand to briefly stun Enriquez and set up a round-ending flurry.
The momentum shift carried over into round eight. Bermudez’s confidence skyrocketed as she grew increasingly more accurate with her right hand, including an uppercut at close quarters. Enriquez played defense for most of the round, fighting largely behind her jab and using lateral movement to avoid additional uncomfortable moments.
Bermudez drew a rise of the partisan crowd after crashing home an overhand right late in round nine. Enriquez took the shot remarkably well but it was enough to stunt her offense and briefly force her to clinch. Bermudez continued to let her hands go until the bell, sensing that her second title reign was well within reach.
Chants of “Ar-gen-tina!” filled the venue at the start of the tenth and final round. Enriquez did her best to rally, perhaps sensing she needed to land something dramatic to pull off the win. Bermudez drove home right hands and left hooks to Enriquez’s body from odd angles, perhaps too fatigued to lift her arms any higher. Enriquez put together brilliant combinations throughout the round, a return to her earlier success. The two embraced at fight’s end, each with a smile on their face after ten entertaining rounds of action with minimal lulls.
Enriquez fell to 26-1 (9KOs), her unblemished record no longer intact after her first title fight and also first fight of any kind outside of Mexico.
Bermudez improved to 18-1-1 (6KOs) with the victory. She is now 6-1-1 in major title fights and back in position to potentially vie for the undisputed crown later this year.
She will likely have to wait out a planned rematch between WBC/WBA champ Yesica Nery Plata and former WBC titlist Kim Clavel. The two delivered the year’s first Fight of the Year contender, with Plata coming out on top in a well-earned ten-round decision to unify the titles on January 13 in Laval, Canada.
Bermudez also represents an attractive option for two-division and reigning WBA strawweight titlist Seniesa Estrada (23-0, 9KOs), who plans to move back up in weight once she fully unifies the 105-pound division.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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