August 6, 2013

The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science - Women's Boxing Monthly Vol. 6

AIBA Women's Boxing Ambassador Katie Taylor
By Mark A. Jones – Supporters of women’s boxing were dealt a defeat in July when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) rejected a plan to increase the number of medal events for female boxers in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The International Boxing Association (AIBA) wished to double the number of medals available for female boxers from the current three weight divisions, flyweight, lightweight, and middleweight. The 2012 Olympic women’s boxing competitions were witnessed by capacity crowds at London’s ExCel Arena witnessing England’s own Nicola Adams, Ireland’s Katie Taylor, and Claressa Shields of the United States win Gold Medals. The Olympic lightweight quarter-final bout between Taylor and Liverpool, England’s Natasha Jonas noise level was deafening - recorded at 113.7 decibels - which is almost identical to a very loud rock concert. A spokesperson from the AIBA stated: “The International Boxing Association takes note and respects this decision but hopes that more opportunities will be opened to women boxers at the 2020 Olympic Games.”

A look back at July 2013 in women’s boxing: 

Victorious “Killer Queen” Kentikian
On July 6 in Germany, Susi “Killer Queen” Kentikian (31-2, 16 KOs) Hamburg, Germany, reclaimed the WBA female flyweight title with a ten-round unanimous decision victory over Carina “La Reina” Moreno (23-6, 6 KOs) Watsonville, CA, USA. Kentikian won the WBA flyweight title in February 2007 defending it successfully 14 times before losing it to Moreno in December 2012 by split-decision. Kentikian won the interim WBA flyweight title by unanimous decision victory over Belgium’s Sanae Jah in February when Moreno could not defend the WBA title due to an injured knee. In this battle, the cliché, “It was a tale of two fights,” best describes the action. Always a fast starter, Kentikian won the early rounds with effective aggression significantly out working Moreno, who as a counter-puncher, was warming up and looking for mistakes she could capitalize on. Over the second half of the fight, as Kentikian became visibly tired, Moreno took over landing the final punch of the majority of the exchanges goal counter-punchers strives to achieve. Possibly sensing that the decision was in doubt, Kentikian rallied to win the final round swarming Moreno with a two-fisted attack and moving out of range at angles giving Moreno few opportunities to counter. The scoring (96-94/97-93/97-93) was not representative on how closely the fight was contested. With the win, Kentikian elevates herself back into the mix at flyweight; perhaps the deepest division in women’s boxing. With possible super-fights with Ava Knight, Melissa McMorrow, and Shindo Go, the flyweight division will be a centerpiece of women’s boxing for the foreseeable future.

Also on July 13, in a WBO featherweight title eliminator, Argentina’s Marcela Eliana Acuna (39-6-1, 17 KOs) defeated well thought of Melissa Hernandez (18-5-3, 6 KOs) by a unanimous decision in Argentina. The victory has significant implications in the present and future. Acuna is now the #1 contender to the WBO featherweight title currently held by fellow Argentine, Alejandra Oliveras. The win also propels her from a borderline to a solid Hall of Fame candidate once her career is concluded and the waiting period has elapsed. During a six six-year period from 2006-12, she was unbeaten campaigning as the WBC female super-bantamweight champion defeating such notables as Alicia Ashley, Jackie Nava, Yazmin Rivas, Maribel Santana, and Oliveras. Whatever Acuna accomplishes going forward is icing on the cake.

Hammer Time for the kissing bandit Mikaela Lauren
Also on July 13, in Dresden, Germany, KO Digest’s #4 pound-for-pound female boxer and two-division world champion, Christina Hammer (15-0, 7 KOs) Dortmund, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany, successfully defended her WBO and WBF middleweight titles with a ten-round unanimous decision (100-90/99-91/98-92) over Mikaela Lauren (19-3, 7 KOs) Stockholm, Sweden. Hammer, aged 22, also holds the WBF and WBO super middleweight titles; took the challenge of Lauren seriously, training in the high altitude and solitude of the Austrian Alps. The thirty seven year old challenger entered the fight on a five fight winning streak including victories over the current IBF light middleweight champion, Eva Halasi and American, Cindy Serrano.

Lauren brought a significant spotlight to this match-up when, to lighten the mood after a somewhat contemptuous weigh-in, she suddenly kissed Hammer square on the lips while taunting her. The actual fight in the ring was decidedly anti-climactic, witnessing Hammer, a supreme technician from long-range; dominate the action by relegating the skilled Scandinavian to clumsily lunging with punches in hopes to land something lucky. Said the victorious Hammer after the fight, “I am very happy to have won and I got a little revenge for the kiss of Mikaela Lauren along with it.”

Sweet revenge for Juarez over Togo
Also on July 13, in Mexico, Mariana “Barbie” Juarez (37-7-3, 16 KOs) won the WBC International female super-flyweight title and became the #1 contender to the WBC super-flyweight title holder, Zulina Munoz, with a unanimous decision victory (98-92/97-93/98-93) over Riyo Togo (10-5-1, 9 KOs) Tokyo, Japan. In April, Juarez was stopped in the first round by the iron-fisted Togo when she was thought to have made a mistake by brawling with a brawler; it was the first stoppage loss for Juarez since 2005. The discovery of altered gloves by WBC Supervisor Dr. Lorenzo Soberanes just before their much publicized rematch leaves the knockout loss in doubt. It was discovered that Togo, just prior to entering the ring, had the padding removed from her gloves leaving her wrapped hands placed directly against the leather of the professional fight gloves. The gloves were confiscated, and an investigation is still ongoing. Togo was authorized to fight donning another pair of gloves and losing by decision by a wide margin. With the win, Juarez places herself in position to challenge the popular but vulnerable Zulina Munoz (38-1-2, 25 KOs) Mexico City, Mexico, in what would be a super-fight for both Mexico and women’s boxing. 

On July 19, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, KO Digest’s #6 pound-for-pound female boxer, Yesica Yolanda “Tuti” Bopp (25-1, 11 KOs) Wilde, Buenos Aires, Argentina, returned to her winning ways winning a ten-round unanimous decision victory over tough battler, Anastasia Toktaulova (14-12, 2 KOs) Leesburg, Florida, by way of Yoshkar-Ola, Russia. Bopp dominated the score cards winning every round on each successfully defending her WBA light-flyweight title for the thirteenth time and her WBO light-flyweight title for the eleventh time. In the lone loss of her stellar career, a closely contested decision loss to Jessica Chavez in June, the WBA and WBO titles were not on the line. With the loss, Toktaulova has lost four of her last five each loss coming against high-level opposition.

Prospect "Baby Girl" Douglas goes to 3-0
On July 20, at Coppin State University, Baltimore, Maryland, southpaw prospect, Tyrieshia “Baby Girl” Douglas, Baltimore, improved to (3-0, 1 KO) with a unanimous decision victory over former world title challenger Marisol “La Chihuahua” Miranda (5-6, 1 KO) Hollywood, Florida, (40-35 x3). Douglas, who finished second to Marlene Esparza at the inaugural USA Boxing Olympic Trials in 2012, impressively battered Miranda knocking her down with a straight left hand in the third round on the way to the one-sided victory. Most recently, Miranda tasted defeat in her solo attempt at a world title losing to Yesica Yolanda Bopp by technical knockout in the seventh round.

A look ahead to August 2013 in women’s boxing: 

Suarez stops Palmera in seven
On August 8 in Panama City, Panama, Venezuelan glamor model and the newly declared WBA featherweight champion, Ogleidis “La Nina” Suarez (18-2-1, 8 KOs) Caracas, Venezuela, defends her world championship against the #9 rated contender, Liliana “La Tigresa” Palmera (21-10-3, 15 KOs) Monteria, Colombia. Suarez was declared the WBA champion after Hyun-Mi Choi of South Korea surrendered the belt to campaign at super featherweight. Choi won the title in her professional debut in October 2008 making seven successful defenses since.

This is a rematch of their October 2012 meeting that witnessed Suarez stop Palmera in seven rounds retaining the interim version of the WBA featherweight title. Since, Palmera battled lightweight champion Erica Anabella Farias for the WBC lightweight title losing by a third round knockout. Palmera, the ultimate gunslinger, is 4-4 over her last eight fights all ending by knockout. The most impressive win on the record of Suarez is a split-decision win over the current IBF super bantamweight title holder, Katy Wilson Castillo in October 2011.

On August 9 in Santa Rosa, La Pampa, Argentina, Monica Silvina Acosta (18-0-2, 4 KOs) in front of a hometown crowd, defends her WBA female light-welterweight title against perennial contender, Belinda “Brown Sugar” Laracuente (26-27-3, 9 KOs) New York, New York, USA. Acosta also holds the WBC light-welterweight title. Laracuente was once a slick-moving boxer-puncher who was talented enough to lose a disputed majority decision to Christy Martin in early 2000, but she has fallen on hard times of late losing nine of her last twelve fights each by decision. Most impressively, of her 27 losses, none have come by knockout. Acosta is another in a long line of talented female boxers from Argentina. Of the many Argentine female boxing champions, Acosta is perhaps the most vulnerable and certainly the most protected. Possessing exceptional counter-punching ability, Acosta is unremarkable in all other categories. Acosta holds controversial wins over Erin McGowan and Lely Luz Florez and a closely contested win over the current WBO female featherweight champion, Alejandra Marina “Locomotora” Oliveras, who elevated in weight to fight Acosta for the WBC and WBA light-welterweight titles in 2011. Acosta’s strangle hold on two alphabet light welterweight titles should extend past the challenge of Laracuente.

On August 14 at BB Kings Blues Club & Grill in New York, New York, USA, highly ranked heavyweight, Sonya “The Scholar” Lamonakis (7-1-2, 1 KO) New York, New York, was originally scheduled to face Taren Pennell (1-1) Irving, Texas, a failed eye exam later and “The Scholar” is now scheduled to face the ever-tough TBA.

Jeffrey looks to upgrade her title belt
On August 16, KO Digest’s #12 pound-for-pound female boxer, “Queen” Ronica Jeffrey (13-0, 1 KO) Brooklyn, New York, USA, travels to Chubut, Argentina, taking on the aggressive Argentinian southpaw, Claudia Andrea Lopez (22-7, 5 KOs) Trelew, Chubut, Argentina, with the vacant IBF female super featherweight title on the line. A brief glance at the record of Lopez reveals that she is faced a “who is who” of the super bantamweight and featherweight divisions giving a satisfactory account of herself but falling short against A-Level fighters such as, Hyun-Mi Choi, Alejandra Marina Oliveras, and Marcela Eliana Acuna. Stepping up to super featherweight to face the defensively gifted Jeffrey is a tall order. Jeffrey, a three-time New York Daily News Golden Gloves Champion, fairs well against aggressive fighters as is witnessed with decision victories over “Lethal” Lindsay Garbatt and promising Canadian prospect, Natasha Spence over the past year; each at least equal Lopez in aggression. Lopez last saw action in April against Dahiana Santana for the IBF featherweight title losing by a decision.

On August 24 in Moenchengladbach, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany, the former WBC, WBO, and the WIBF featherweight title holder, Ina Menzer (30-1, 11 KOs) attempts to win the interim WBF and vacant WIBA featherweight titles in her home town against Goda Dailydaite (8-0, 2 KOs) Essen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany. Menzer, born in Kazakhstan, won the WIBF title in 2005 and defended it successfully fifteen times until losing to Jeannine Garside in 2010. Six successful defenses of the WBC featherweight title and one defense of the WBO featherweight title were mixed into those fifteen defenses. During her nearly five-year title run, Menzer established herself as one of the best in the sport holding impressive wins over Ramona Kuehne, Esther Schouten, Laura Serrano, and Yazmin Rivas. Menzer was inactive for fourteen months after her decision loss to Garside and has since taken the slow road back to relevance engaging in only one bout against a fighter with a winning record in her last four outings.

Three Questions - Sweet Side Q&A with American Alex Love:

Alex Love of Bellevue, Washington, is currently serving in the United States Army at Fort Carson, Colorado in the World Class Athlete Program. During her amateur career, she compiled an impressive record of 53-8 culminating in her inclusion in the inaugural U.S. Olympic Team Trails for female boxers in 2012. During the trials, Alex won her first match but fell short of making the Olympic Team losing her next two contests, but her crowd-pleasing aggressive boxing style was noticed, making her a serious contender for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Boxing Team.

Love of Combat Sports
Q: Why did you join the US Army?

A: I joined the Army to pursue my boxing career. The Army gave me an outlet that provided support, which is exactly what I needed. I needed someone in my corner to help me get to the next level.

Q: What will your job (MOS) be as an Army soldier?

A: I joined the Intelligence Unit to ensure that I had a career under me.

Q: What was the first ever female U.S. Olympic Team Trails like for you?

A: My Olympic Trials experience was fantastic. I was part of history in those contests. Female boxers have been fighting for the right to participate in the Olympics for a long time. I’m proud that I was able to participate in the first ever U.S. Olympic Trials for women. I fought my heart out, and I’m ready to go for a Gold Medal in Rio in 2016.

KO Digest's Dynamite Dozen Pound-for-Pound Ratings:

Bopp is #6 Pound for Pound
1- Cecilia Braekhus (22-0, 6 KOs) Norway
2- Erica Anabella Farias (17-0, 9 KOs) Argentina
3- Ava Knight (12-1-3, 5 KOs) USA
4- Christina Hammer (15-0, 7 KOs) Germany
5- Jessica Chavez (19-3-2, 4 KOs) Mexico
6- Yesica Yolanda Bopp (25-1, 11 KOs) Argentina
7- Ann Sophie Mathis (27-3, 24 KOs) France
8- Jelena Mrdjenovich (29-9-1, 14 KOs) Canada
9- Esmeralda Moreno (25-6, 9 KOs) Mexico
10- Diana Prazak (12-2, 8 KOs) Australia
11- Marcela Eliana Acuna (39-6-1, 17 KOs) Argentina
12- Melissa McMorrow (9-3-3, 1 KO) USA

"The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science" is written and compiled by women's boxing expert Mark Jones - exclusively for KO Digest. You can find more of Mark's work on his women's boxing blog: Boxing Jones