Sunday 21 October 2018

Taylor's opponent not fazed by fighting in front of biggest crowd of her career

Katie Taylor and Victoria Bustos embrace after yesterday’s press conference at Mondrian Park Avenue in New York. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Katie Taylor and Victoria Bustos embrace after yesterday’s press conference at Mondrian Park Avenue in New York. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Sean McGoldrick in new york

Eight years after she first stepped inside a boxing ring, Victoria Noelia Bustos (29) will finally fight outside her native Argentina when she defends her IBF world lightweight title against Katie Taylor in New York's Barclays Centre in the early hours of Sunday morning (Irish time).

The boxing journey taken by the two protagonists could hardly be more different.

Katie Taylor, the current WBA title holder, grabbed world headlines when she won a gold medal at the London Olympics and since turning professional in late 2016, she has boxed before an estimated 200,000 fans in London, Manchester, New York and Cardiff in eight professional fights.

By contrast, Bustos's career has been low-key. A native of Rosario - a city in the north of Argentina where Lionel Messi and the late revolutionary leader Che Guevara were born - her journey has come with little fanfare.

"I saw a pamphlet about a boxing festival while walking on the street. I went along and liked it.

"I said to myself that I can be a world champion so I started training. After three months of doing amateur fights I started boxing professionally," explained Bustos, who is a part-time fighter.

She works in the office of her father's painting company and gives boxing lessons to young girls at the Commerce Employee Union in Rosario.

Argentina is the world's leading power in women's professional boxing - currently it boasts nine female world champions across the 18 categories.

The competitive nature of the sport in the country is reflected in the fact that although Bustos is rated fifth in the world in the lightweight class - Taylor is second - she is only second in Argentina.

Natalia Vanesa del Valle Aguirre is rated the top lightweight in Argentina having beaten Bustos in non-title fights in 2013 and 2014, though Bustos finally beat her in their last clash in August 2014 when her IBF belt was up for grabs.

Bustos had her first world title fight in 2012 in just her eighth professional contest but lost on a unanimous points decision.

Ten months later she secured the IBF belt back in Rosario and she has successfully defended it on five occasions.

Unsuccessful

The only non-Argentinian fighter she has beaten was 37-year-old American Kimberly Connor in 2017.

In 2016, four years after her WBC lightweight title defeat to compatriot Erica Anabella Farias, Bustos fell to the same opponent in a WBC super-lightweight title decider.

Her 18 pro wins have all been achieved inside the distance but her four defeats came on points, which suggests she is a durable boxer but lacks punching power.

She insists she is not fazed by the prospect of boxing outside her native country and in front of the biggest crowd of her career.

"It's a great experience. It's a very important fight in my career even though I have fought against other world champions. This will mark a before and after in my career," she said.

"I haven't actually seen too much of Katie Taylor. I didn't know her until she fought my fellow Argentine Anahi Esther Sanchez, I got to know her then.

"There isn't too much information on her on the internet. But what I do know and from the little I have seen of her, I like her style.

"She throws a lot of punches, she moves well and she's a very clean fighter. I like her style, so I think we will have a good fight."

"I saw a little bit of her last fight (against American Jessica McCaskill), I noticed that it wasn't an easy one for her but things can happen in fights.

"We will see how it goes for both of us but I'm sure we will put on a good show."

Irish Independent

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