April 5, 2013

The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science - Women's Boxing Monthly Vol. 2

By Mark A. Jones – Women’s boxing entered March like a lion with Ramona Kuehne successfully defending her WIBF, WBF and WBO super featherweight titles in Germany against Halanna Dos Santos. In Japan, on a card that contained six female bouts, WBA minimumweight champion, Etsuko Tada dominated the iron-fisted Yuko Kuroki. Women’s boxing continued to roar at mid-month witnessing WBC minimumweight champion, Naoko Fujioka knocking out trialhorse Maribel Ramirez in the fourth round of a scheduled eight and WBC lightweight champion, Erica Anabella Farias and WBA, WBO light flyweight champion, Yesica Yolanda Bopp both winning by stoppage in title defenses. 

The month concluded with Eva Halasi capturing the IBF welterweight title by upsetting Ivana Habazin by unanimous decision. Flyweight prospect Patty “Boom Boom” Alcivar won the New York State female flyweight title by pounding out a decision over the experienced Eileen Olszewski. Arguably the best match-up of March witnessed the rugged, Melissa “Mighty” McMorrow successfully defending her WBO, WIBF flyweight titles by winning a ten-round split decision over Nadia Raoui in a fist-flying affair.

Delfine Persoon, the current WIBF, IBF lightweight champion, won the WBC lightweight title eliminator by knocking out Kremena Petkova in the second round of a scheduled ten. With the win, Persoon moves to (24-1, 10 KOs) and is ranked as the #1 contender for the WBC lightweight title currently held by Erica Anabella Farias. Persoon has developed into a devastating right-hand puncher, and a match-up with Farias would be marketable to any network as women’s boxing continues struggle to gain main stream attention

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

On March 3 at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods Resort, Mashantucket, Connecticut, Shelly “Shelito’s Way” Vincent, 124, Providence, Rhode Island, entered the ring with multi-colored hair and attire resembling not only a world class super bantamweight, but a super hero about to save the day by besting a super villain lurking at ringside. Mikayla “MK Ultra” Nebel, 122, Columbus, Ohio, resembling nothing comparable to a super villain became the recipient of Vincent’s two-fisted attack.

Shelito goes to 8-0 against Nebel
Nebel, a long-range timing fighter, was unable to lay a serious glove on Vincent who employed a bobbing and weaving defensive technique, allowing her to easily evade any attack from Nebel while moving her into counters of her own. In the end, Vincent moves to (8-0, 0 KOs) winning an unanimous decision (40-36 x3) and looks to be a serious contender at both bantamweight and super bantamweight. Nebel drops to a deceiving (0-4); a record not indicative of her skill set.

Also on March 3 at Korak Hall, in Tokyo, Japan, Etsuko Tada, 105, Kyoto, Japan, successfully defended her WBA female minimumweight title for the ninth time with an unanimous decision over Yuko Kuroki, 104 ½, Fukouka, Japan, over ten rounds; scoring (98-92/98-92/99-91). With the win, Tada moves to (12-0-2, 2 KOs) maintaining her position as the #2 ranking female minimumweight boxer behind Naoko Fukioka (10-0, 6 KOs) also of Japan. With the loss, Kuroki drops to (9-3, 5 KOs) and remains a serious challenger owning serious firepower in both hands coupled with an aggressive take-no-step-back style.

On the undercard, Ibeth Zamora Silva, 106 ¾, Mexico, won the vacant WBC female light flyweight title by a razor thin split decision over Naoko Shibata, 106 ¾, Tokyo, Japan (96-94/96-94/94-96). It was the second close decision loss in six months involving title fights for Shibata who, in September, discovered herself on the short end of an unanimous decision to Etsuko Tada in a bid for the WBA minimumweight title. Silva once held the WBA minimumweight title on an interim basis, and held the WBC Youth title at minimumweight and light flyweight. Silva improves to (17-5, 7 KOs) elevating into elite status in the ever-crowded light flyweight division that contains pound-for-pound favorites, Yesica Yolanda Bopp, Esmeralda Moreno, and Jessica Chavez. Naoko drops to (9-3, 3 KOs) remaining a good midlevel contender at minimumweight and light flyweight.

On March 9 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Erica Anabella “La Pantera” Farias, 133 ¾, Virreyes, Argentina, retained her WBC lightweight title and her elite pound-for-pound status with a third round knockout of Liliana “La Tigresa” Palmera, 131 ½, Monteria, Columbia. Farias, in her stalking style, started quickly hurting Palmera early and often with the right cross to the body and head. Fighting only to survive, Palmera had enough movement and evasive skills to make Farias work to find her. Early in the third round, a right-cross setup by a wide left hook, found its mark on Palmera’s chin knocking her to the canvas. Palmera rose quickly, but her fate was sealed as she was quickly trapped in the corner and sent to the canvas to stay by a right hand to the ear setup by a preparatory combination to the body.

Winner and still champion - La Pantera Farias
The iron-fisted Anabella Farias has knocked down ten of her last twelve opponents stopping nine inside the distance with only Melissa Hernandez, Victoria Bustos and Ann Saccurato avoiding a defeat by stoppage. With the win, Farias improves to (16-0, 9 KOs) successfully defending her WBC female lightweight title for the eight consecutive time dating back to her wining the interim version in 2010. Palmera suffers her second stoppage defeat to Farias and witnesses her record drop to (21-10-3, 15 KOs) and (0-7) in title fights involving four different weight classes.

On March 23 at GETEC Arena, in Magdeburg, Germany, "Mighty" Melissa McMorrow, San Francisco, CA, USA, 110 ¾ retained her WBO and WIBF flyweight titles with a split decision victory over Nadia Raoui, Germany, 109 ¾ in a hard-fought ten. Two judges favored McMorrow (99-91/96-94) with the lone holdout determining that the native of Germany, Nadia Raoui delivered better than she received at (96-94). The two top-level flyweights split the early rounds with McMorrow, a forward-moving volume puncher successfully waking down her opponent evading most of what Raoui had to offer with a bob-n-weave style of defense. The success of McMorrow’s early bodywork allowed the defending champion to migrate her attack upstairs in the later stages of the fight. Nadia Raoui, a counter-puncher who mostly moves laterally, employed a different strategy for this battle. She moved mostly straight back forcing McMorrow to pursue her in a straight line in order to run McMorrow into quick counters down the middle of her defense. Raoui had sporadic success with the jab, right cross, and right uppercut, but did not possess the necessary firepower to dissuade the ultra-aggressive McMorrow.

Eddie Croft, the manager-trainer of McMorrow, disseminated proper adjustments between rounds which blunted any momentum Raoui may have built in the early stages of the fight. In the end, McMorrow’s early body punching, constant pressure, and extremely high punch volume took its toll on Raoui as she struggled to keep pace and wilted in the final stages of the battle. McMorrow swept rounds 8, 9, and 10 cementing her victory and maintaining control of two world titles at flyweight. McMorrow moves her record to (9-3-3, 1 KO) opening up endless possibilities with fellow flyweight champions, Ava Knight, Carina Moreno, and Renata Szebeledi or the still popular, Susi Kentikian. With the loss, Nadia Raoui stays relevant with a record of (15-2-1, 3 KOs).

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

On April 4, at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City, Heather “The Heat” Hardy (4-0, 0 KOs), Brooklyn, NY, takes on Mikayla “MK Ultra” Nebel (0-4), Columbus, OH, in a six round bout. This is a rematch of Hardy’s August 2012 professional debut where she confronted difficulties suffering a knockdown in the first round, but rallied to win the final three stanzas and the fight by a four-round unanimous decision victory. An action fighter with a huge fan base in New York City, Hardy trains out of the legendary Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, New York, with boxing trainer, Devon Cormack. When not training to improve her status as a super bantamweight prospect, she can be found training clients at Gleason’s Gym.

On April 6, in Zamora, Mexico, Irma Garcia (6-0-1, 1 KO; 4 no contests), a southpaw, defends her WBA female bantamweight title by re-matching Janeth Perez (17-1-2, 4 KOs) in a Boxrec 5-star rated match-up. Irma Garcia, a boxer-puncher with good movement, on January 15, 2013 won the WBA female bantamweight title by boxing her way to a controversial unanimous decision victory over Janeth Perez whose effective aggression and volume punching made for many lively exchanges. Look for Janeth Perez, an aggressive midrange left hook artist, to again take the fight to Irma Garcia; both fighters are very ordinary defensively with Garcia relying on movement to evade punches. Perez is far superior from close range and took advantage of Garcia’s stiff posture and poor in-fight skills in the previous meeting.

On April 12, at the Dover Downs Casino, Dover, Delaware, “Queen” Ronica Jeffrey (11-0, 1 KO), Brooklyn, NY, faces Natasha “The Nightmare” Spence (6-1-1, 5 KOs), Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, for the interim WIBA super featherweight title. Jeffrey is currently holding the WBC Silver female super featherweight title; a title she won by besting “Lethal” Lindsay Garbatt over ten rounds in August 2012.

This is an excellent stylistic match-up featuring the defensive wizardry of Jeffrey and the power-punching and forward aggression of Spence. Spence suffered her lone defeat at the hands of fellow hard-charger, Melissa St. Vil in February. Jeffrey, a three-time New York Daily News Golden Gloves Champion, is an emerging star in the sport.

On April 20, at the Arena Roberto Duran, Panama City, Panama, southpaw Alicia “Slick” Ashley (18-9-1, 1 KO), Westbury, NY, battles Chanttall “La Fiera” Martinez (18-5-0, 7 KOs), David, Panama for Ashley’s WBC female super bantamweight title. Ashley, a master boxer, won the title in July 2011 with a dominate decision victory over Christina Ruiz and has defended it successfully once since. Ashley holds wins over Alesia Graf, Elena Reid, Kelsey Jeffries, Bonnie Canino and all-time great Marcela Eliana Acuna. She is facing a formidable opponent in Martinez, a wide-punching pressure fighter and former holder of the WBA female super bantamweight title winning the belt from Lisa Brown in April 2011. Martinez successfully defended the WBA title twice before relinquishing it to Jackie Nava by decision in January 2012. Martinez is currently 22 years of age turning professional at the age of 16 in 2006; Ashley holds the edge in experience having defeated a higher level of competition and will turn 47 in August.

All time great Mia St. John
On April 13, the marquee match-up of the month pits women’s boxing pioneer, Mia St. John (47-12-2, 18 KOs) who travels to Arena Nord, Frederikshavn, Denmark to battle pound-for-pound elite, “The First Lady of Boxing” Cecilia Braekhus (21-0, 5 KOs). Cecilia Braekhus is defending her WBO, WBA, and WBC welterweight titles. The name, Mia St. John is already etched in the history of women’s boxing boasting Hall of Fame type accomplishments. Cecilia Braekhus holds every conceivable advantage in this match-up with the obvious exception of experience rendering St. John to spoiler status.

Braekhus is actively seeking a welterweight mega-fight with longtime champion, Holly Holm. Holm bested Mia St. John for the IBA junior welterweight title in 2005 sweeping every round in route to an unanimous decision victory.

What To Expect: Look for Braekhus to aggressively seek a stoppage in this battle with St. John to proclaim that she stopped an all-time great whereas Holm fell short of that accomplishment.

Monthly Featured Divisional Ratings - Flyweights:

The flyweight division is as talented as any weight class in the sport. Representing every region of the world, the flyweight division boasts nearly forty world class boxers. Foremost among them are three American boxers from California, Ava Knight, Melissa McMorrow, and Carina Moreno. Just missing the rankings is an eighteen-year old boxer/puncher from Guadalajara, Mexico, named Joselyn Arroyo Ruiz. She turned professional at sixteen, but fights like a veteran having the potential to be a long-time champion at flyweight.

Lady of Boxing Ava Knight - #1 Rated Female Flyweight
1- Ava Knight USA (11-1-3, 5 KOs) WBC Silver, IBF
2- Melissa McMorrow USA (9-3-3, 1 KO) WBO, WIBF
3- Irma Sanchez Mexico (25-6-1, 7 KOs) WBF
4- Carina Moreno USA (23-5, 6 KOs) WBA
5- Susi Kentikian DE (30-2, 16 KOs) WBA interim
6- Renata Szebeledi Hungary (16-9, 10 KOs) WBC
7- Nadia Raoui Germany (15-2-1, 3 KOs) WIBA
8- Arely Mucino Mexico (17-2-1, 9 KOs)
9- Raja Amasheh Germany (15-0-1, 4 KOs)
10- Simona Galassi Italy (18-2-1, 4 KOs)

Ava Knight - A Closer Look: Record: 11-1-3, 5 KOs Titles: WBC Silver female flyweight title From: Chico, California Age: 24 Experience: six years, 2007-2013 Style: Boxer/Puncher Strength: Speed Best Wins: Mariana Juarez, Kaliesha West, Arely Mucino Losses: (1) Ana Maria Torres Last Bout: Win UD-10 Susana Vazquez

The Goods - At the young age of 24, having not yet reached her prime, Ava is not only one of the most talented fighters in women’s boxing; she is perhaps the most promotable American female boxer. Owning a combination of speed, punching power, and fundamentally sound boxing technique accentuates her ability to adapt to her opponent’s style and fight strategy. Ava holds wins over the iron-fisted Arely Mucino and Kaliesha West, an impressive speed fighter; perhaps her most impressive victory was a decision win over women’s boxing pioneer and all-time great, Mariana Juarez in what was the ‘event of the year’ in women’s boxing for 2012. In that bout, Knight worked inside and outside befuddling Juarez with her speed and movement leaving Juarez, who in the twilight of her career is primarily a long-range counter puncher, little to counter. She gained valuable experience early in her career taking on some of the biggest names in women’s boxing. She fought to a draw in her fifth professional bout with Elena “Baby Doll” Reid, a veteran of 28 fights. Ava also drew with Kaliesha West at bantamweight and in her eight professional fights, lost a close decision to Ana Maria Torres in a bid for the WBC female super flyweight title. Torres is considered an all-time and a longtime holder of the WBC female super flyweight title.

Sweet Side Quick Quotes:

Ava Knight, #1 ranked female flyweight - "The flyweight division is full of talented fighters, and I am hoping that the women under me will want to take that step up to the number one girl - myself - so I can prove my domination of the flyweight division."

Ana Julaton, top ranked female super bantamweight - "Flyweight is a great division and super matches can be made between Light Flyweight and Super Flyweight. Again it's all about the promoters, fighters and business, but I feel there are enough matches that can be made in the Flyweight Division to spark global attention. We have already seen good matches in McMorrow versus Raoui and Alcivar versus Olszewski and Mucino versus Tapia recently, so time to make some great matches!"

Melissa McMorrow, #2 ranked female flyweight - "The flyweight division is one of the most competitive divisions in women's boxing. It is the most saturated weight class. I would love to do a super 6 for female flyweights!"

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

#2 Pound for Pound Cecilia Braekhus

1- Holly Holm (32-2-3, 9 KOs) (JWW/WW) USA
2- Cecilia Braekhus (21-0, 5 KOs) (WW) Norway
3- Erica Anabella Farias (16-0, 9 KOs) (LW) Argentina
4- Ava Knight (11-1-3, 5 KOs) (Fly) USA
5- Yesica Yolanda Bopp (24-0, 11 KOs) (JFLY) Argentina
6- Christina Hammer (13-0, 7 KOs) (MW) Germany
7- Melissa Hernandez (18-3-3, 6 KOs) (FW) USA/Puerto Rico
8- Layla McCarter (35-13-5, 8 KOs) (JMW) USA
9- Frida Wallberg (11-0, 2 KOs) (JLW) Sweden
10- Esmeralda Moreno (25-6, 9 KOs) (JFLY) Mexico
11- Mariana Juarez (36-6-3, 16 KOs) (JBW) Mexico
12- Jessica Chavez (17-3-2, 4 KOs) (JFLY) Mexico  

"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