Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Acuna enjoyed boxing from a very early age. At the age of seven, she visited a boxing gym for the first time. Her first trainer, Ramon Chaparro , would many years later become her husband.
Marcela Acuna became an accomplished martial arts fighter before she decided to box for money. At the age of twelve, she had earned a black belt and she became South America's champion in her division by the age of fourteen. She made sixteen successful title defenses.
She had to retire from karate due to pregnancy. In 1995, she and Chaparro had their first son. After some time away from combat sports, Acuna decided that she would return, only this time, she would compete in boxing.
Like Rafael Lovera , Pete Rademacher, and a few others before her, Acuna got a world title try on her very first match. On December 5, 1997, she was matched against WBC women's world champion Christy Martin, in Pompano Beach, Florida, in an undercard that was headlined by Johnny Tapia's world championship defense against Puerto Rico's Andy Agosto and which was shown nationally across the United States. Acuna was dropped in round ten, but she rose and finished the bout on her feet. Despite losing a unanimous decision by scores of 100-90 and 99-90 (twice), Acuna's performance was hailed by many fans and critics alike, considering that this was her first professional boxing bout.
In a very unusual case, Acuna also got a world title try on her second fight. This time, she met Lucia Rijker on September 25, 1998, at Ledyard, Cconnecticut . This fight was contested for the WIBO world Jr. Welterweight title. Acuna was knocked out in five rounds.
This would prove to be a critical point in Acuna's boxing career. Controversy spread around the women's boxing world because a woman with no previous boxing experience had been given two world title tries in a row, something that had never even happened on men's boxing. Many defended the choice of putting Acuna against world champions right away, based on her karate record of 17 wins, 1 loss and 1 draw (tie). But, on the other side, other fans and critics felt it was inappropriate and degrading to the sport that someone with no previous experience would be put in against fighters of the quality of Martin and Rijker right away.
The controversy, combined with the fact that she had lost her two fights up until then, convinced Acuna to retire. Apart from the disappointment she felt after those two losses and the controversy surrounding them, she had also given birth to her second son before the fight with Rijker, and she wanted to tend to her children.
Acuna returned to boxing in 2001, and she and her rival, Jamillia Lawrence of New Jersey, made Argentine boxing history when they participated in the first ever women's boxing fight to be sanctioned by the Argentine boxing commission. Acuna got her first win, with a four round split decision over the American at Buenos Aires, on April 28 of that year.
On August 11, she returned to Buenos Aires, to defeat Yolanda Marrugo , dropping her twice, on her way to a six round unanimous decision.
On September 21, she fought at Carlos Monzon's birthplace, Santa Fe, when she was rematched with Pereyra. Acuna knocked out Pereyra in five rounds, and Pereyra required hospitalization after this fight. Acuna was awarded the "La Opinion's 80th anniversary" trophy that night.
On October 12, she knocked out Ana Dos Santos in two rounds, for her last appearance of 2001.
If for nothing else, the fight was widely expected because Quirico was a well known personality with developed body strength, who helped fan interest for the fight develop when she began to threaten Acuna through the media. Although she was 40 years old already, she seemed to feel an authentic dislike towards Acuna, and fans across Argentina spoke about the fight on the weeks prior to the event. The fact Quirico had participated in twenty three exhibition matches, as well as in karate and baseball also helped fan interest grow.
They met on January 19, 2002, at Buenos Aires. Acuna scored one of the quickest knockouts in boxing history, when she landed a right to Quirico's chin right after the first bell rang, and followed it with a left that sent Quirico to the floor. Quirico was counted out and Acuna officially won the fight at fourteen seconds of round one. The win earned her the Argentine Jr. Welterweight title.
On March 1, she had to fight one of her closest friends, Carmen Montiel , to defend the title for the first time. Acuna outpointed Montiel over ten rounds. Next, she would have had her third world title try, on April 6 against Panama's Damaris Pinock Ortega , the WIBA world Jr. Welterweight champion. The 2002 Argentine economic crisis , however, forced for the fight to be postponed.
On June 29, she and Montiel had a rematch, and Acuna once again prevailed, by an eight round unanimous decision.
Acuna then lost weight, going down all the way to the Super Bantamweight division to get her third try at becoming a world champion. In what was the first ever women's boxing world championship fight to be staged in Argentina, Acuna lost a split decision to champion Alicia Ashley.
Acuna then decided to take another two year lay-off, but she had also decided to stay around the Super Bantamweight division's weight limit, because she wanted to fight in that division from there on. And when she returned for the second time, on February 21, 2003, she knocked out former Regina Halmich challenger Lourdes Gonzalez in two rounds to win the Argentine Super Bantamweight title.
Then came a rematch with Ashley. On her fourth world title try, Acuna lost to Ashley for the second time, this time by a ten round unanimous decision, on June 14.
On August 22, she and her friend Carmen Montiel met for the third time, and Acuna once again beat Montiel on points, this time over six rounds. This victory set up the stage for Acuna's fifth world title try. It shall be mentioned that few boxers who have tried for the world title four times without success have been given a fifth try in boxing history, so a fifth chance at becoming world champion could be considered a privilege in boxing.
On December 6, she and Panamanian Pinock Ortega finally got to meet, and Acuna finally became world champion, when she knocked out Pinock Ortega in the sixth round for the vacant WIBA Super Bantamweight title
On May 26, 2004, she made her first world championship defense, knocking out Daysi Padilla in the first round. Padilla, who had former world champion Ricardo Cardona at her corner, also required a short stay at a hospital.
On September 11, Acuna knocked out Ana Camilla Santos in the third round of a non title bout.
Marcela Acuna holds a record of 17 wins and 4 losses, with 8 knockout wins.
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