August 21, 2014

The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science - Women's Boxing Monthly Vol 15

Babyface Boxing's Beautiful Brawlers
By Mark A Jones -- Female boxers enlisted in the United States Army continue to impress as Alexandra Love and Rianna Rios won their weight classes in July at the National Women’s Golden Gloves Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Fellow World Class Athlete Program (WCAP) teammates Fallon Farrar and Melissa Parker finished second in their respective weight classes; both are former National Champions.

On August 31 in Redwood City, California, Babyface Boxing presents, “Beautiful Brawlers IV,” an all-female boxing card featuring over 100 amateur boxers from Canada, Puerto Rico, and the United States. The third edition of the series held on August 31, 2013, featuring USA Boxing Olympian Queen Underwood, drew nearly 600 spectators including cameo appearances by professional boxers Ava Knight, Melissa McMorrow, and Carina Moreno. The chief architect of the Beautiful Brawlers series is Blanca Gutierrez, who wears many hats in the boxing scene which includes gym owner, coach, promoter, and she even manages heavyweight Martha "The Shadow" Salazar.

Watts was the big winner in Scotland
The 2014 Commonwealth Games were held in Glasgow, Scotland, on 23 July to 3 August. 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist Nicola Adams (England) won a close 2-1 decision over Michaela Walsh (Northern Ireland) to win the women’s flyweight (48-51 kg) class. Shelly Watts (Australia) won four fights in five days to win the lightweight class (57-60 kg) defeating Laishram Devi (India) by a 3-0 margin. 2012 Olympian Savannah Marshall (England) topped Ariane Fortin (Canada) for top honors in the middleweight (69-75 kg) class by a close 2-1 decision.

A Look Back At July 2014 in Women's Boxing:

On July 18 in Sedavi, Spain, vivacious light-middleweight Mikaela “Destiny” Lauren (22-3, 8 KOs) of Stockholm, Sweden, at a catchweight of 152 pounds, earned a WBC title opportunity with an eight-round decision victory over former title challenger, Kali Reis (6-3-1, 2 KOs) of Providence, RI, by the scores (77-74/77-75/77-75). Lauren enjoys excellent fan support in Europe and employed her size and experience to earn a slight advantage on the scorecards. Reis was competitive throughout, displaying enough boxing ability to keep the score close. With the win, Lauren will receive a shot at the vacant WBC light-middleweight title against Aleksandra Magdziak Lopes in Sweden in November.

Lauren earns a WBC title shot
KO Digest’s Top 5 Light Middleweights:

1- Anne Sophie Mathis (France)
2- Mikaela Lauren (Sweden)
3- Paola Gabriela Casalinuovo (Argentina)
4- Maria Lindberg (Sweden)
5- Kali Reis (USA)

On July 25 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Fernanda Soledad Alegre (20-1-1, 10 KOs) of Gonzalez Catan, Argentina, successfully defended the WBO female light-welterweight championship for the tenth time with a second round technical knockout of Dalia Vasarhelyi (9-6) of Budapest, Hungary. Alegre took over the fight shortly after the referee's instructions, relentlessly perusing her overwhelmed foe until the assigned referee Gustavo Tomas saved Vasarhelyi, who was helplessly trapped on the ropes, from further punishment near the end of round two. This wipeout was nothing more than an exercise to display the first-rate abilities of the 27-year-old champion who hopefully returns to defending against fighters on the level of former conquests Chris Namus and Enis Pacheco. For the 21-year-old challenger, it was her third unsuccessful attempt at a world title losing to Maria Elena Maderna (TKO-3) and Rola El Halabi (UD-10) previously.

Hammer couldn't keep Mathis off her all night
On July 27 at Anhalt Arena, Dessau, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, WBO & WBF middleweight champion, Christina Hammer (17-0, 8 KOs) Dortmund, Germany, was seemingly cruising to a decision victory over French power-puncher Anne Sophie Mathis (27-3, 23 KOs) when, in the fifth round, she was clubbed to the canvas by a legal rapid succession of right hands to the left ear by the free hand of Mathis during what constituted an unsuccessful attempt to clinch on the behalf of Hammer. The omnipresent assigned referee Manfred Kuechler was grossly out of position during the beat down having an excellent view of the French battler’s back. He failed to initiate a count out of Hammer; instead, he halted the contest determining that Hammer was unable to continue and disqualified Mathis for illegal blows to the back of the head awarding Hammer the WBF light-middleweight title, which Mathis was defending, and the vacant WBO female light-middleweight title.

During the battle, as expected, Hammer fought well from long-range enabling her to evade the leads of Mathis with her superior movement. Mathis delivered better than she received at close-range causing Hammer, who appeared uncomfortable at close-quarters, to clinch; a skill she has yet to master. During the fight, both fighters received warnings for numerous fouls by a heavy-handed referee that was excessive in his admonishment for insignificant violation of the rules. In the end, the sanctioning commission (Bund Deutscher Berufsboxer- BDB) changed the result to “no contest” admitting that mistakes were made affecting the result. Mathis keeps her WBF light-middleweight strap, and Hammer maintains control of the WBO & WBF middleweight titles. The WBO did not order a rematch since Hammer is the organization's reigning middleweight champion.

Shibata is the winner and still champion
On August 2 at the Adachi Ward Sogo Sports Center in Tokyo, Japan, Naoko Shibata, 106 ¾, of Tokyo, defended her IBF female light-flyweight title by stopping veteran Mexican contender Ana Arrazola, 107, in the ninth round of a scheduled ten. At the time of the stoppage, Shibata led on the scorecards by an impressive margin (79-73/79-73/78-74). Shibata is quietly one of the best fighters in women’s boxing. Of her three losses, two were closely contested defeats to Ibeth Zamora-Silva (SD-10) and Etsuko Tada (UD-10). The other, a 2010 defeat to Naoko Fuijoka. For Arrazola (20-10-2, 13 KOs), who has fought the best from minimumweight to light-flyweight suffered her first stoppage loss. With the win, Shibata moves to (13-3, 3 KOs) and will look to defend her title against top contenders Sanae Jah (IBF #2) or Jessica Chavez (IBF #3).

On the undercard, southpaw Momo Koseki, 101, of Tokyo, defended her WBC female atomweight title (102 lbs.) for a record-breaking 14th time with an eight-round demolition of Muay-Thai star Denise Castle, 101 ¼, of Bournemouth, UK. The fight was halted at the 2:09 mark of the eighth of a scheduled ten when referee determined that Castle (2-1, 2 KOs) had absorbed too much punishment to continue. Koseki (19-2-1, 6 KOs) was leading by the identical score of (70-63) on each scorecard. With the win, Koseki surpasses Yoko Gushiken’s thirteen defenses to become the Japanese fighter with the most-successful title defenses.

Sweet Side Quick Hits for July/August: 

Bosques now has a belt
On July 17 Carolina Raquel Duer (17-3-1, 5 KOs) landed enough big shots to win a ten-round unanimous decision over Ana Lozano (8-2) retaining her WBO female bantamweight title. It was Duer’s second defense of the bantamweight strap. She previously held the WBO female super-flyweight title defending it successfully six times before elevating to bantamweight. On July 26 Anabel Ortiz (15-3, 3 KOs) stopped contender Neisi Torres (12-3-1, 8 KOs) in the third round retaining her WBA female minimumweight title for the second time. Noemi Bosques (6-1-2, 2 KOs) won her first minor title stopping Yolaine Lin de Lauf (6-2) in the third round of their scheduled eight round affair. Bosques scored two knockdowns in the third round before the referee stoppage. Former light-middleweight champion, Jennifer Retzke (15-1-1, 9 KOs) won the vacant IBO welterweight title with a ten-round, split-decision over Florence Muthoni (11-4-1, 5 KOs). Carolina Rodriguez (13-0, 1 KO) defended her IBF bantamweight title with a split-decision over slugger Dayana Cordero (13-5-1, 9 KOs).

A Look Ahead To August 2014 in Women's Boxing:

On August 23 in Coacalco, Mexico, on a card dubbed, “Duel of Queens” Jessica “Kika” Chavez (20-3-3, 4 KOs) of Mexico City will battle “Mighty” Melissa McMorrow (9-4-2, 1 KO) of San Francisco, USA, for the vacant WBC International female flyweight title. Stylistically, this is an excellent matchup boasting the counter-punching ability of Chavez versus the close-range, volume-punching of McMorrow.

As it is in women’s boxing, a record does not always indicate to what level a fighter can compete. A quick look under the hood of McMorrow’s career reveals that she usually engages top-level competition often in the opponent’s home town. Her in-your-face aggressive fighting style has enabled her to upset two German-based world champions in Nadia Raoui, a boxer-puncher, and Susi Kentikian, a fellow volume-puncher, in Germany. McMorrow is equally adept at handling all boxing styles requiring her opponents to make the necessary adjustments. In her last effort, McMorrow lost a closely-contested, ten-round unanimous decision to Mexican boxing superstar, Mariana “Barbie” Juarez in Mexico.

Chavez is undefeated in her last eleven bouts with only a November 2013 split-draw with Mexican slugger Arely Mucino as the lone blemish. Chavez is widely considered among the pound-for-pound best in the sport holding wins over Yesica Yolanda Bopp, Irma Sanchez, and Katia Gutierrez. Most recently, she won a unanimous decision over ten rounds against former WBA light-flyweight champion, Tenkai Tsunami of Japan. The three losses on the docket of Chavez are to Ibeth Zamora Silva, Esmeralda Moreno, and Bopp, each a present of former pound-for-pound entry. The 26-year-old Chavez is nearing the prime of her career and is a multi-dimensional fighter who discovers a method to prevail in the fights she is favored to win.

Chavez will win a close one according to Mark Jones
McMorrow, 33, will try to get inside and attempt to sit there and force Chavez to match her high punch volume. Chavez should make the proper adjustments, denying McMorrow inside position, and thereby enabling her to control enough of the action at medium to long range to persuade the judges to see things her way.

Prediction: Chavez UD-10 McMorrow (6-4 or 7-3 in rounds).

On 23 August in Villa Ballester, Argentina, in the main event of a card containing two high profile female bouts, Marcela Eilana “La Tigresa” Acuna (41-6-1, 18 KOs) of Caseros, will defend her WBO female super-bantamweight title in a scheduled ten round contest against Edith Soledad Matthysse (12-6-1, 1 KO) of Trelew. This fight is a rematch of their May 2013 battle where Acuna dominated the action winning nine of the ten rounds on each scorecard. Matthysse won the WBA female featherweight title in December with a unanimous decision victory over Ogleidis Suarez. She is reducing in weight to super-bantam to challenge Acuna in hopes of adding a championship belt in a second weight class to her record. At 34, she is the older sister to former WBC light-welterweight champion, Lucas Martin Matthysse. The older sister owns the same aggressive streak as her more credentialed brother, but that is where the comparison ends. Edith Soledad has one knockout victory in nineteen professional outings, but her aggressive tactics have enabled her to defeat world champions Daniela Romina Bermudez and Suarez. After losing her first two professional bouts to Christy Martin (UD-10) and Lucia Rijker (KO-5), Acuna has built a certain Hall of Fame career boasting an incredible 6 ½ year run as the dominate super-bantamweight champion of the sport (2006-12) defeating Alicia Ashley, Alejandra Marina Oliveras, and Jackie Nava along the way. In her last action, Acuna stopped contender Estrella Valverde (TKO-6) to retain her WBO title. Acuna is a master counter-puncher and at 37-years-old, remains one of the pound-for-pound best in women’s boxing. Acuna, as she did in their first meeting, will exploit the straight-line aggressive style of Matthysse, moving just enough to evade her advances and expertly countering with her full arsenal of punches. Acuna wins nine of ten rounds routing Matthysse. Prediction: Acuna UD-10 Matthysse (9-1 in rounds).

On the undercard, Erica “La Pantera” Farias (19-1, 9 KOs) of Virreyes, Argentina, battles the “Rough & Ready” TBA in a non-title bout scheduled for ten rounds. It will be the first fight back for the former WBC female lightweight champion since losing her title in her 12th defense to Delfine Persoon in April. The card is scheduled to be televised by Argentina TyC Sports.

Will Nava be too slick for Ashley?
On September 6 in Mexico City, Mexico, Alicia “Slick” Ashley (21-9-1, 3 KOs) of Westbury, New York, defends the WBC female super-bantamweight title against Mexican superstar Jackie “La Princesa Azteca” Nava (29-4-3, 13 KOs) of Tijuana. The 46-year-old Ashley, who will turn 47 by fight night, has the distinction as the second oldest reigning world boxing champion behind only Bernard Hopkins (49). However, Ashly is relegated to a secondary position to very few in boxing in terms of defensive ability; she sits on top of women’s boxing as the best defensive fighter in the game. Undefeated since 2010, Ashley has won her last seven contests, the longest such streak of her career. Holding career-defining wins over Marcela Eliana Acuna (twice), Elena Reid, and IWBHF inductee Bonnie Canino only adds to her credibility as a reigning champion. It will be the fourth defense of the WBC title for Ashley. The 34-year-old Nava, in May, returned to the ring after a two-year hiatus (child birth) and became a super-bantamweight champion for the fifth time winning the interim WBA version with an impressive dismantling of former champion, Alys Sanchez (KO-7). Nava, who is susceptible to knockdowns, hit the canvas briefly in the first round but rallied scoring four knockdowns of her own in route to an impressive victory. Nava is a stalking mid-range, left-hook artist with bristling punching power with the ability to lead or counter. She is at her best when forcing her opponents back to the ropes where her lack of lateral movement is more difficult to exploit; Nava is front-foot heavy.

Unlike the Sanchez fight, Nava will find it difficult to land a meaningful glove on Ashley, a southpaw, due to the champion’s efficient lateral movement, excellent upper body flexibility, and deft right jab. Although she possesses significantly more firepower, Nava, to battle on an even footing in the middle of the ring, will have to increase her punch volume and force the Ashley into enough exchanges along the ropes to sway the judges to favor her. At a natural site, this is a pick’em fight. In Mexico, Nava will get the benefit of the doubt and win a closely-contested, but comfortable decision. Losing a close fight on the road is not a new experience for Ashley, who has arguably lost only a fraction of the nine defeats posted to her official record.

This match, scheduled on the undercard of Juan Francisco Estrada versus Giovani Segura WBA & WBO World flyweight championship fight, will be one of two high-profile female bouts on the card. Also appearing in a ten-round title bout will be the ever-popular, Mariana “Barbie” Juarez, facing an unnamed opponent in defense of her WBC International super-flyweight title. Juarez is recovering nicely from a shoulder injury and should be ready to defend her title on this card. Rumors are still swirling about the prospects of a super-fight between Juarez and WBC female super-flyweight champion Zulina Munoz (42-1-2, 27 KOs).

Prediction: Nava UD-10 Ashley (6-4 in rounds). 

Nava is predicted to prevail
KO Digest’s Top 5 Super Bantamweights (122 lbs.):

1- Marcela Eilana Acuna (Argentina)
2- Jackie Nava (Mexico)
3- Alicia Ashley (USA)
4- Yesica Patricia Marcos (Argentina)
5- Sabrina Perez (Argentina) 

On September 13 in Copenhagen, Denmark, in the co-main event of a Sauerland Promotions “Nordic Fight Night” card, the consensus pound-for-pound #1 boxer in women’s boxing, Cecilia “First Lady” Braekhus (25-0, 7 KOs) of Bergen, Norway, defends her WBA, WBC, and WBO female welterweight titles against IBF female welterweight champion Ivana Habazin (13-1, 5 KOs) of Zagreb, Croatia. Habazin’s IBF welterweight strap is also in play. The 32-year-old Braekhus, in the prime of her career, with a victory, will gain control of each of the “big four” welterweight titles. After her dominating points victory over Jessica Balogun in June, Braekhus stated publically, ‘’I would like to fight for the IBF belt next,” said Braekhus. ‘’I already hold the WBC, WBA & WBO titles and now I want to unify the division and become the first female fighter to hold all four belts.’’ During her four-year career, Habazin, 24, pounded her way to the IBF title by beating a group of pretenders with only two owning winning records. Like most European fighters, she attempts to fight at long-range coaxing her opponents into taking all the risk and countering when the opponent sits inside her range. She is too slow of hand and foot to employ this strategy against Braekhus, who owns a ridiculous speed advantage. Prediction: Braekhus will dispense with her usual niceties and stop Habazin within six rounds to look impressive in what is likely her final fight at welterweight. Braekhus TKO-6 Habazin

On the undercard, “The Swedish Princess” Klara Svensson (13-0, 5 KOs) will receive her first shot at a world title when she battles slugger Marie Riederer (15-1-1, 10 KOs) for the interim WBC World light-welterweight title. "I have been waiting for this opportunity for a long time," said Svensson. "I am happy to finally get a chance to fight for the World title. I am expecting a tough fight. On paper, Riederer is the best opponent I have faced so far in my career but I am looking forward to the challenge." To date, neither fight has faced respectable competition both piling up wins over ordinary competition.
In June 2010, Riederer stepped up in competition and lost decisively to Christina Hammer (KO-5).

Sweet Side Quick Hits for August-September:

On August 29 in Maracay, Venezuela, Arely Valente (12-1-1, 6 KOs) of Mexico will face Mayerlin Rivas (9-3-1, 6 KOs) of Venezuela, for the interim WBA female bantamweight title. Rivas failed in two attempts at world titles whereas Valente is receiving her first shot at a world title belt. On August 30 in La Pampa, Argentina, former longtime WBA female light-welterweight champion, Monica Silvina Acosta (19-1-2, 5 KOs) will battle fellow Argentine Marisa Gabriela Nunez (6-5-2) for the vacant IBF female light-welterweight title. Also on August 30 in Peru, Peruvian-born “Triple L” Linda Laura Lecca (10-2-1, 3 KOs) will meet Guadalupe Martinez (7-6, 3 KOs) of Mexico for the interim WBA female super-flyweight title. Future superstar Kenia Enriquez (11-0, 6 KOs) of Tijuana, Mexico, will battle veteran trial horse Mayela Perez (11-15-4, 7 KOs) in San Diego on September 4. It will mark the third time that the 20-year-old Enriquez has fought in San Diego. 

KO Digest Dynamite Dozen Top 12 Pound For Pound Ratings:

Month after month, Braekhus is still pound for pound #1
1- Cecilia Braekhus 25-0, 7 KOs (Norway)
2- Marcela Eilana Acuna 41-6-1, 18 KOs (Argentina)
3- Anne Sophie Mathis 27-3, 23 KOs (France)
4- Yesica Yoland Bopp 27-1, 12 KOs (Argentina)
5- Delfine Persoon 29-1, 13 KOs (Belgium)
6- Diana Prazak 13-2, 9 KOs (Australia/USA)
7- Jackie Nava 29-4-3, 13 KOs (Mexico)
8- Christina Hammer 17-0, 8 KOs (Germany)
9- Erica Anabella Farias 19-1, 9 KOs (Argentina)
10- Jelena Mrdjenovich 32-9-1, 16 KOs (Canada)
11- Naoko Fujioka 12-0, 6 KOs (Japan)
12- Ibeth Zamora-Silva 20-5, 8 KOs (Mexico)

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