San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica's top boxer still world champ

Costa Rica’s female boxing icon, Hanna Gabriel, 27, knocked out rival Melisenda Pérez from the U.S. with only 58 seconds to spare in the final round Sunday in Uruguay . Her valiant effort helped Gabriel maintain possession of the World Boxing Organization’s (WBO) junior middleweight title (154 lbs).

Gabriel was caught on the ropes on several occasions throughout the fight, while taking strong hits from the aggressive Perez. Late in the bout, Gabriel looked exhausted by Perez’s onslaught. Perez showed a strong resilience to Gabriel’s punches and appeared poised to force a decision and possibly win the title.

But Gabriel recuperated in the 10th round and, with barely a minute left in the fight, knocked Perez into the corner of the ring. With a strong right hook, Gabriel thumped Perez to the ground the referee jumped in to call the technical knock out.

“This was the toughest fight I have had,” Gabriel told the daily La Nación after the fight. “I knew Perez was going to come very well prepared.”

Gabriel won the junior middleweight title in May in Puerto Rico against the Dominican Republic’s Gardy Peña. Sunday’s fight in Uruguay was Gabriel’s first title defense bout.

With the victory, Gabrial improved her record to 12-0-1, 7 KO’s and is 1-0 as the undisputed WBO junior middleweight champion.

Costa Rica’s undefeated male boxer, Bryan Vasquez, also won his fight on Sunday in Uruguay. Vazquez defeated Argentina’s Luis Juarez by unanimous decision and improved to 22-0, 11 KO’s. The fight lasted six rounds and was not a title bout. 

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