Yokasta Valle returned home to create history.
The two-division champ came up huge in a dominant ten-round, unanimous decision win over Vietnam’s Thi Thu Nhi Nguyen in their IBF/WBO strawweight title unification bout. Judges Julio Alvarado (100-90), Samuel Nieto (100-90) and Edward Hernandez (100-90) all had it a clean sweep for Valle in the DAZN main event Thursday evening at Ciudad Deportiva Heiner Ugalde in Valle’s hometown of San Jose, Costa Rica.
The feat came as part of the first-ever title unification fight to take place on Costa Rican soil.
“With hard work, dreams come true,” Valle said after the win.
Valle has long served as her nation’s biggest box office attraction, even while as Costa Rica’s tiniest champion. She soaked in all the ambiance during a lengthy ringwalk featuring a group dance performance to prime the already vocal sellout crowd of 5,694 in attendance. Her two-fisted attack provided plenty of reason to cheer as well, as Nguyen was unable to keep pace with Valle’s combination punching.
Most of the action took place in the center of the ring, where Valle exhibited supreme infighting skills. The 30-year-old local hero dodged most of Nguyen’s punches on the inside, bobbing and weaving to position herself for rapid fire combinations.
Nguyen exhibited toughness, if for the wrong reasons. The unbeaten Vietnamese boxer—nicknamed ‘Wonder Woman’—stood her ground as Valle crashed home right hands upstairs and crisp left hooks both to the body and chin.
Frustration began to set in for the visiting Nguyen, who was warned for wrapping Valle in a headlock and hitting her on the break in round four. Valle used in and out movement throughout round five to avoid clinches or any attempt at foul play by her unbeaten foe, pumping her jab before mixing it up with lead rights. Nguyen attempted to adjust, only to get clipped with a series of left hooks to the chin.
Chants of ‘Yoka’ filled the venue as Valle let her hands go. Nguyen was unable to respond to her opponent’s superior hand speed, with Valle unloading with a flurry of power shots during several sequences in round six. Nguyen was long on heart but short on answers as Valle was landing 60 percent of her power shots in the middle rounds.
Nguyen looked to find a home for her right hand in round seven but to no avail. Valle spent the early portion of the round playing defense before closing the gap and catching Nguyen with left hooks to the body and head.
Momentum remained in favor of Valle in round eight, save for a brief moment when Nguyen managed to land a flush right hand. Valle quickly adjusted, disallowing her visiting foe to follow up on the sequence.
Nguyen (5-1, 1KO) repeatedly came up short with her right hand throughout round nine. Valle countered every time, often in combination and always moving out of harm’s way before positioning herself back in punching range as Ngyuen was afforded little time to react and adjust.
More of the same came in the tenth and final round, marking the end of Nguyen's WBO title reign just eleven months after winning the belt last October.
Valle improves to 26-2 (9KOs) with the win, now owning 50 percent of the division’s relevant hardware while defending her IBF belt for the sixth time.
The top ranked fighter at strawweight remains WBA titlist Seniesa Estrada (22-0, 9KOs) who defected from Golden Boy Promotions earlier this summer. Estrada signed with Top Rank and will make her debut with the Las Vegas-based company in November.
“I hope Golden Boy was happy to see my entire country behind me tonight,” noted Valle.
Given her star power at home, it’s clear that Valle brings plenty to the table no matter who she fights. After Thursday’s historic win, she will also bring two major titles into her next fight.
She would love nothing more than to leave with all four within her next two fights.
“I want all of the belts after this,” Valle stated. “I want the WBC and the WBA belts, no matter who has them.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox