Yokasta Valle Sweeps Thi Thu Nhi Nguyen to Become Unified Champion!
At the Cuidad Deportiva Heiner Ugalde in San Jose, Costa Rica, you had a women’s minimumweight unification battle as IBF champion Yokasta Valle (26-2, 9 KOs) took on WBO champ Thi Thu Nhi Nguyen (5-1, 1 KO).
Coming in, the pressure was on Valle, who was fighting in front of an adoring home crowd. The 30-year-old won the IBF belt with a split-decision win over Joana Pastrana in August 2019 and has defended the title five times. Her last outing was a ten-round win over Lorraine Villalobos in what was her United States debut. Afterward, she pushed for her next bout to be against another world champion.
She received her wish and fought a Nguyen who overcame poverty and the negative perception of women’s athletes in her country of Vietnam. She set forth on a path to make boxing her life. Nguyen’s efforts paid off. In October 2021, the 25-year-old became her country’s first world champion when she defeated Etsuko Tada via a unanimous decision to capture the WBO title.
This bout was dripping with historical significance. Aside from Nguyen being Vietnam’s first world champion, Valle – Nguyen was the first unification bout in the country of Costa Rica.
ON HER A-GAME
A pumped-up Valle set the tone by being the aggressor. She pumped the jab and let the combinations fly to the head and body. Nguyen tried to stay patient and connect with body punches. While she had some success landing with a few jabs and right hands, she was getting outworked and forced to fight off the back foot. The action was fierce throughout the early rounds.
The middle rounds saw the WBO champ fight more measured. Instead of fighting on the front foot, Valle fought more in the center of the ring. She found a home for the jab and did an excellent job boxing in a tight circle. The WBO champ had trouble landing with consistency. When she attempted to land with a hard punch, Valle slipped, side-stepped, and countered with her right hand/left hook combos.
NOT LETTING UP
After fighting at such a high pace, one might think that Valle would slow down. Fat chance! She showed her elite conditioning in the championship rounds. With the Costa Rican crowd on their feet, she did whatever she wanted, continuing to tee off until the final bell.
Valle’s work was rewarded by the judges, who all scored the fight in her favor 100-90 to become the unified IBF/WBO champ. During the post-fight interview, the victor said her goal is winning the undisputed titles at 105-pound.
By: Michael Wilson Jr.