Jessica Nery Plata Topples Kim Clavel, Unifies WBA/WBC 108-Pound Titles In Slugfest

Jessica Nery Plata has grown accustomed to life on the road.

A brave showing was offered by the 28-year-old Mexico City native, who outslugged Montreal’s Kim Clavel to take a well-earned ten-round, unanimous decision in the first entry of the 2023 Fight of the Year race. Judges John Madfis (96-94), Guy Girard (97-93) and Nathan Alexander Palmer (97-93) all awarded the fight to Plata, who defended her WBA junior flyweight title and claimed Clavel’s WBC belt in their terrific ESPN+ aired main event Friday evening from Place Bell in Laval, Canada.

Clavel opened the fight determined to walk down the longer but leaner Plata, who mostly fought from the outside. The local favorite utilized a stiff jab to work her way inside Plata’s superior reach. A combination by Clavel had her visiting fellow titlist pinned against the ropes in the final ten seconds.

Plata found a home for her right hand in round two. It came in between combinations by Clavel, who was quicker to the punch and was able to force Plata on the defensive. Plata landed a counter left hook and right hand in the closing seconds of an entertaining round.

Two-way action ensued in round three. Clavel jabbed and circled but Plata was able to time her with right hands. Clavel picked up the pace, throwing punches in bunches. Plata was unbothered by the work rate, as she stayed in the pocket, and landed a right hand behind Clavel’s guard. A left hook also scored for the Mexico City native, who suddenly found her offensive groove.

Clavel was more defensively sound at the start of round four. The 2020 ESPY winner for courage exhibited on the frontline as a nurse during the height of Covid, showed plenty of heart in the ring even during Plata’s best offensive moments later in the round. It came after Clavel offered superior head movement, as she bobbed and weaved on the inside and crashed home a right hand on Plata’s chin. Return fire was offered, initiating a high-octane exchange that drew a rise out of the crowd.

The end of round five saw Clavel contend with a bloody nose and reddening around her right eye. Ironically, it came after her best round since the opener, as she beat Plata to the punch and was able to land the cleaner blows at a greater frequency. Plata never rattled, as she almost always had a response for her unbeaten foe.

Clavel boxed from the outside in round seven after Plata was once again able to draw blood in a fiercely contested round six. The plan to slow down the pace didn’t take, as Plata quickly forced a fight. Clavel obliged, pushing through a right hand upstairs to land a body shot and then a left hook to the chin. Plata found herself pinned against the ropes in the final ten seconds but was able to clip Clavel with a left hook.

Plata paid the price for standing her ground, as Clavel crashed home an overhand right inside the first minute of round eight. Clavel came back with a left hook moment later, which Plata absorbed and responded with a combination to the chin. The blood continued to flow from the nose of Clavel, who closed the round with a straight right hand.

Clavel ran a 30 second drill towards the end of round nine, at a point where she couldn’t afford to give away any more ground. The 32-year-old landed to the body and upstairs during a furious exchange along the ropes. Plata manages her share of left hooks for good measure.

The tenth and final round saw Clavel target the body and then ring her attack up top. Plata watched every punch come in her direction and timed the crowd favorite with a right hand. Clavel bit down and traded, determined to close the show and not leave anything to chance. Clavel landed a right hand and then backed off, only for Plata to land a right hand at the bell and another shortly thereafter from an adrenaline rush.

Nery’s strong showing was properly rewarded by the three judges, winning her second consecutive title away from her native Mexico. Friday’s win came ten months after dethroning WBA titlist Yesica Bopp last March 11 in Panama City, Panama. The WBC belt has now landed in her grasp, as Plata improved to 29-2 (3KOs) with her eighth consecutive victory.

Clavel suffered the first defeat of her celebrated career, as her record fell to 16-1 (3KOs). The defeat comes six months after she won the WBC strap in a ten-round virtual shutout of long-reigning champ Yesenia Gomez last July 29 in her Montreal hometown.

The unification clash was due to take place December 1, only for Clavel to have to postpone after suffering a 102-degree fever during fight week. The six-week delay proved well worth the wait for Plata and for home viewers who were treated to an instant classic, though not at all how Clavel envisioned the night or the start to her 2023 campaign.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox

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