June 30, 2013

A Star is Born - Gennady "GGG" Golovkin stops Matthew Macklin in 3

MGM GRAND FOXWOODS, CT — When it was all said and done, boxing fans were right in their use of words like massacre, slaughter, and destruction to describe what they thought would happen in the ring between defending WBA middleweight champion Gennady "GGG" Golovklin and challenger Matthew "Mack The Knife" Macklin.

On a night where the only knockdown to be found in six fights was a 2013 Knockout of the Year candidate, Golovkin more than lived up to expectations with a dominant third round KO of his brave but hopelessly outgunned challenger. A vicious left hook to the body sent Macklin to the canvas midway through the round and judging from the sound of the punch and the pained look on his face, you could tell right away that Macklin wasn't getting up any time soon.

For Golovkin (27-0, 24 KOs, Kazakhstan) the win was a massive statement and the ease with with he cut through Mack The Knife was incredibly impressive. Golovkin was in seek-and-destroy mode as soon as the fight began and he hurt Macklin with a booming right hand in the first and he cut his prey over the left eye in the second. What came in the third sent shockwaves through the middleweight division and put every fighter from 154 to 168 on notice that Golovkin is for real as a premier (and precise) power puncher.

After the fight, Macklin (29-5, 20 KOs, Birmingham, UK) claimed that Golovkin was the best fighter he'd ever fought and considering that Macklin's been in the ring with the likes of Sergio Martinez and Felix Sturm, that's very high praise. "He has clubbing, solid power and you can feel the weight of every punch he throws, even the jab," said Macklin of the fighter who most experts have now officially declared as heir apparent to Maravilla Martinez and the World Middleweight Championship. "I want this fight (against Martinez). My position was perfect for that body shot. I felt great in the ring, Macklin never hurt me. It was an easy fight for me. I want to fight again soon against any top fighter, any champion, anywhere." 

In the co-main event, Thomas "Tommy Gun" Oosthuizen (21-0-2, 13 KOs, Boksburg, South Africa) and Brandon "Flawless" Gonzales (17-0-1, 10 KOs, Sacramento, California) battled to a very unpopular 10-round draw. From my seat in pressrow, it appeared that the southpaw "Tommy Gun" used his height advantage, smart movement, and a busy jab to good effect, neutralizing most of Gonzales' rushes while landing the majority of power punches in this non-title fight. Judges and fans felt otherwise and there were cries of "robbery" heard when the decision was announced. According to CompuBox Punch Stats, Gonzales out-landed Oosthuizen 164 to 160 in total punches. Official scores were 96-94 for Oosthuizen, 98-92 for Gonzales, and 95-95 even. KO Digest scored the fight 96-94 for Oosthuizen.

After the fight, promoter Lou DiBella praised the dejected Gonzales as the real winner and stated clearly his belief that Oosthuizen (his fighter!) was the one who should be feeling like a loser. Oosthuizen didn't agree and offered the following in his own defense, "I felt sluggish the first two rounds and then I found my rhythm. I thought I won the fight. I'd give him an immediate rematch if he wanted."

In the first fight on the HBO televised portion of this card, Willie "The Great" Nelson retained his NABF junior middleweight title with an unpopular decision over Luciano "El Principito" Cuello. The 6'3 Nelson consistently allowed the shorter Cuello (32-3, 16KOs, Buenos Ares, Argentina) to close the gap and do good work on the inside to the head and body. Nelson (21-1-1, 12KOs, Cleveland, Ohio) showed very little of his vaunted power and his long jab was inconsistent throughout. In the seventh, Nelson was hurt to the body and reeling around the ring. In the tenth, Nelson was hurt again and holding on for dear life when he wasn't running. Both fighter's faces were marked up and showed the effects of a pitched battle. Official scores in favor of Nelson were 97-93, 97-93, and a much more reasonable 96-94. Said Nelson after the fight, "He was tougher than I thought but I still think I won convincingly. The cuts bothered me but I fought through it. I want to fight all the top 154-pound fighters and this was another step in that direction."

On The Undercard: 

O'Connor was Boston Strong
Danny O'Connor W8 Hector Munoz (79-73 on all three cards) - Fighting almost exclusively at close quarters, the bearded Framingham, MA native O'Connor got all he could handle from the rugged (faux-hawked) Munoz in a spirited junior middleweight scrap. Superior body work from O'Connor early made the difference down the stretch and allowed him to deliver his power shots upstairs later in the fight. O'Connor improves to 21-1, 7 KOs while Munoz drops to 21-11-1, 14 KOs. Both fighters weighed in at 153 lbs.

Luis "The KO Kid" Rosa W8 Jose Angel Beranza (79-72 on all three cards) - Despite being at an overwhelming disadvantage in terms of pro experience, New Haven, CT super bantamweight prospect Luis Rosa pounded out a grueling 8-round decision over the Mexican veteran Beranza. In the fourth round, punches started going south by both fighters and the referee appeared to warn both boxers but a point was taken from Rosa who cranked it up in the fifth with hurtful straight lefts and right hooks. Rosa got tagged a bit in the last round but goes to 14-0, 6 KOs while Beranza falls to 36-27-2, 28 KOs. Both weighed in at 124 lbs.

Dusty Harrison W6 Ben Ankrah (60-55,60-55,59-55) - In the evening opener, welterweight prospect Harrison used a steady jab and good combination punching to outpoint the game but underskilled Ankrah over the distance. No knockdowns in this one. D.C. native Harrison goes to 14-0, 7 KOs while his puffy Ghanaian opponent falls to an even 15-15, 6 KOs. Both fighters weighed in at 146 lbs. 

KO Digest Ringside Report by Jeffrey Freeman  

June 28, 2013

Bantamweights & Below - Boxing's Other Five Weight Divisions Vol. 6

Yota Sato gets punched into an early retirement
By Derek "DBO" Bonnett ~ Recently dethroned WBC super flyweight champion Yota Sato announced his retirement this week and has been removed from my super flyweight rankings. Sato was stopped in eight rounds by Srisaket Sor Rungvisai back in May. Sato appeared listless in the bout and surrendered too willingly for a champion still in possession of the fire to remain competitive. Sato admitted the fire was out weeks later and hung up his hat. Felipe Orucuta replaced Sato in my Bantamweight & Below super flyweight rankings. He entered at number ten on the strength of a close loss to Omar Andres Narvaez last month. 

Also exiting my junior flyweight rankings is Nicaragua's Juan Palacios. Palacios has reached one year of inactivity and has been dropped. Alberto Rossel of Peru has once again climbed back into the ten spot of my junior flyweight standings. 

World Class Boxing Results at Bantamweight & Below:

On Saturday, June 1, at Estadio Sonora, Hermosilla, Sonora, Mexico, Hernan Marquez won a unanimous decision over Carlos Tamara in a twelve round flyweight bout. The judges favored the recently dethroned flyweight champion by scores of 120-107, 120-108, and 119-109. Marquez improved is resume to 36-3 (26). Tamara, also a former world champion, fell to 23-8-1 (17). Marquez moved from number six to take a number five ranking among my top rated flyweights. Milan Melindo fell from fifth to sixth.

Also on this date, at Estadio Morelos, Ecatepec, Mexico, Mexico, Hugo Ruiz got back in the win column with a second round stoppage of Giovanni Caro in a super bantamweight bout. Caro hit the canvas twice before the bout was called to a halt at the 1:22 mark. Ruiz raised his record to 32-2 (29). Cara fell to 24-13-4 (19). Ruiz lost a disputed decision to Koki Kameda back in December, so the above weight win kept him at number four among my best bantamweights.

On Saturday, June 8, at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, The Joint, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr. defeated Roberto Domingo Sosa by unanimous decision in a twelve round IBF super flyweight title bout. The scores favored the Mexican former champion by margins of 117-110 twice and 116-11. Sanchez Jr. surrendered the title on the scales, so the belt is now declared vacant. Sanchez Jr. raised his dossier to 16-1-1 (8). Sosa fell to 24-1 (14). Sanchez Jr. affirmed his number one ranking at 115 pounds.

On Saturday, June 15, at Emperor's Palace, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa, Hekkie Budler won a split decision over Nkosinathi Joyi in a twelve round minimumweight bout. Budler prevailed by scores of 116-113, 115-113, and 112-116. Budler improved his resume to 23-1 (6) with the career best win. Joyi dipped to 23-2 (16). Budler climbed from seventh to fourth in my strawweight rankings. Joyi fell from fourth to fifth. Wanheng Menayothin and Carlos Buitrago each fell one ranking. 
Warren punishes Fuentes
On Saturday, June 22, at Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York, USA, Rau'shee Warren scored a second round KO of Jiovanne Fuentes in a four round flyweight bout. The three-time Olympian dropped Fuentes twice in the first and once in the second.

Fuentes' team saved him further punishment at the 1:04 mark.

Warren improved his young record to 5-0 (3) or 12-0 (3) including his World Series of Boxing results. Fuentes fell to 5-2 (4). Warren remains unranked at the present time, but is still worth noting as one of the few Americans on the radar at flyweight.

On Tuesday, June 25, at Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai took on Renz Llagas in a twelve round bantamweight bout. Rungvisai posted his fourth win in 2013 while rebuilding from a 2012 title fight defeat at the hands of Yota Sato. The judges scored the contest 120-108 and 119-109 twice. Rungvisai raised his record to 27-5-1 (10). Renz fell to 6-5-1 (4). Rungvisai held onto his number six bantamweight ranking in my standings. Weak opposition on the comeback trail could make Rungvisai wait longer than he would like for another crack at a belt.

Bantamweight & Below Featured Rankings: The Best of Japan

#1 in the Land of the Rising Sun
1. Shinsuke Yamanaka (118) 18-0-2 (13) ~ WBC Bantamweight
Best Wins: UD 12 Vic Darchinyan; KO 7 Tomas Rojas
2. Kazuto Ioka (108) 12-0 (8) ~ WBA Light Flyweight Champion
Best Wins: KO 5 Oleydong Sithsamerchai; UD 12 Akira Yaegashi
3. Akira Yaegashi (112) 17-3 (9) ~ WBC Flyweight Champion
Best Wins: TKO10 Pornsawan Porpramook; UD12 Toshiyuki Igarashi
4. Koki Kameda (118) 31-1 (17) ~ WBA Bantamweight Champion
Best Wins: UD 12 Daisuke Naito; UD 12 Alexander Munoz
5. Kohei Kono (115) 28-8 (11) ~ WBA Super Flyweight Champion
Best Wins: KO 4 Tepparith Kokietgym; SD 12 Eden Sonsona

6. Toshiyuki Igarashi (112) 17-2-1 (10) ~ Former WBC Flyweight
Best Wins: UD 12 Wilbert Uicab; SD 12 Sonny Boy Jaro
7. Katsunari Takayama (105) 25-6 (10) ~ IBF Minimumweight
Best Wins: UD 12 Mario Rodriguez; Tech. Dec. 9 Carlos Melo
8. Ryo Miyazaki (105) 19-0-3 (11) ~ WBA Minimumweight
Best Wins: SD Pornsawan Porpramook; KO 5 Carlos Velarde
9. Ryo Akaho (115) 21-2 (13) ~ Former World Title Challenger
Best Wins: KO 5 Fred Mundraby; KO 9 Toyota Shiraishi
10. Tomoki Kameda (118) 27-0 (18) ~ WBO Title Challenger
Best Wins: KO 6 Nouldy Manakane; SD 10 Stephane Jamoye

Bantamweight & Below: Give That Man a Title Shot!

The Hexecutioner deserves a title shot!
Hekkie Budler did enough to hold his ground as a top ten contender with a solid decision win over former world champion Florante Condes in late 2012. However, on June 15, Budler scored his career best victory with an entertaining split decision over former world champion, and fellow countryman, Nkosinathi Joyi.

"[Joyi] was tough, but definitely not my hardest fight," Budler stated. "I think this is a big win for me, probably the biggest of my career. I think after this people are going to take notice of me. My speed and movement helped me out the most in this fight."

The Hexecutioner, as Budler is known back home in South Africa, has held several lesser titles (IBO) and now seems more than ready to challenge for one of the world varieties. At 23-1 (6), the light hitting strawweight contender holds a number three ranking in the eyes of the WBC and IBF. High profile bouts against the Xiong Zhao Zhong-Denver Cuello winner or Katsunari Takayama make great sense for Budler, but a rematch with Joyi at home could be his next move by demand. A repeat win over Joyi would make Budler hard to avoid at 105 pounds.

"I don't think a rematch will happen. I think we both will go our own way," Budler explained. "I think that Cuello will win the fight [with Xiong Zhao Zhong]. He is a very good fighter, but it's going to be a hard fight for him. Zhong has improved immensely since winning the title."

It remains to be seen if the Joyi win has changed the trajectory of Budler's career outside of his native South Africa. There may be one factor holding Budler back from mainstream praise world-wide. "It's hard for the small divisions to get recognized," said Budler with a chuckle.

The South African born Budler may not be mainstream, but this American-based writer has certainly taken notice of his ring ledger, which is why he is this month's KO Digest Bantamweights & Below selection for Give That Man a Title Shot!

Bantamweights & Below — On the Horizon:

On Friday, June 28, at Casino Hipodrome Agua Caliente, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, Moises Fuentes takes on Roger Collado in a ten round light flyweight bout. Fuentes gets back into the ring after a controversial draw with Donnie Nietes.

Also on Friday, June 28, at World Trade Centre, Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Xiong Zhao Zhong takes on Denver Cuello in a twelve round WBC minimumweight title bout. China's only world champion takes on one of boxing's most deserving title challengers in his first defense. This bout has Fight of the Year potential.

On Saturday, July 13, at Solaire Resort Hotel and Casino, Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines, Merlito Sabillo takes on Jorle Estrada in a twelve round WBO minimumweight title bout. Sabillo is now recognized as the full-title holder after winning an interim belt. He makes his first defense.

On Thursday, July 25, at Tokyo Big Site, Tokyo, Japan, Koki Kameda takes on John Mark Apolinario in a twelve round WBA bantamweight title bout. Kameda's reign may be coming to an end after back to back controversial decision wins.

On Saturday, July 27, at Venetian Casino and Resort, Macao, Macao S.A.R., China, Juan Francisco Estrada takes on Milan Melindo in a twelve round WBA/WBO flyweight title bout; Zou Shiming takes on Jesus Ortega in a six round flyweight bout. After upsetting Brian Viloria in April, Estrada meets the challenge of a primed foe worth his weight in gold in Melindo. Also, China's amateur star makes his second professional appearance in a budding boxing hotbed.

Written by Derek "DBO" Bonnett - exclusively for KO Digest

You can find more of Derek's writings/ratings on www.SecondsOut.com 

You can also contact the author Derek Bonnett on Facebook

June 15, 2013

KO Digest Spotlight on Boxing's Up and Comers - Tony Bellew

Up and Comer Bomber
By Terry Strawson - Tony Bellew was born on November 30, 1980 in Liverpool, England. He is a former British and Commonwealth champion and his impressive victory over contender Isaac Chilemba last month cemented him as the mandatory challenger to the WBC light heavyweight title now held by Adonis Stevenson. His flight to the upper reaches of the light heavyweight division was not without moments of turbulence but his attitude and persistence have expedited the upgrade to first class. His journey in boxing began as a teenager at the Rotunda ABC under the keen eyes of Jimmy Albertina and Mick McAllister. The pair formed a solid foundation of fundamentals and support for Bellew to build upon, and the building is still under construction. Sadly, Albertina passed away in 2003 but his impact on the young Bellew was profound and, aided by McAllister, appears everlasting.

"My relationship with Jimmy was great. He was someone who really changed my outlook on boxing. I used to be a bit of a know-it-all and Jimmy really opened my eyes and made me realize how hard it was and what it entailed to get to the top. He changed me in every possible way, he made me realize the seriousness of boxing and how dedicated you have to be. If I never met Jimmy I wouldn't be where I am today," said Bellew. "Mick was there too, from day one at Rotunda with Jimmy. He was Jimmy's right-hand man, someone who he confided in. I call Mick the Gaffer. He picked up everything off Jimmy and being with the Gaffer now is just like being with Jimmy. He's got a big brain, a great eye for the game and I'm just lucky to have him in my corner." Bellew's spell as an amateur saw him register 40 victories with only 7 defeats and while there is nothing terribly jaw-dropping about that, he did stop a whopping 32 of his opponents en route to three ABA titles, and he did it campaigning as a heavyweight.

His achievements in the unpaid ranks far exceeded his own expectations, according to Bellew, and his love for the Rotunda and McAllister was showcased, oddly enough, by his departure from the gym. "I moved to Anthony Farnell when I very first turned pro. McAllister was the amateur coach at Rotunda and amateurs and pros couldn't mix, they were not allowed to work with each other. So, I just wasn't willing to jeopardize Rotunda's head coach by asking him to turn pro with me because it would have been detrimental to the gym, and the kids."  

Bellew at home in the gym
There is an honesty about Bellew, in the ring and out. His application and commitment to the sport are beyond question and his exploits thus far can be credited to his unwavering self-belief. His jab is more than useful and his right hand has fight changing qualities. Operating primarily on the front foot, Bellew, known as "Bomber" by his growing legion of fans, has knocked out over half of his opponents. He is a self-proclaimed "gym rat" and a firm believer in hard work and dedication. His first professional fight, which came under a promotional contract with Frank Warren, ended in explosive fashion. "My professional debut? It was great. It was like a gimme fight against a guy named Jamie Ambler. A notorious, surviving journeyman and I just went in and hammered him in two rounds. I battered and bullied him and it was a nice introduction to the professional game, it really was."

Having rattled through numerous journeyman and other unfortunate foes, Bellew went undefeated through sixteen fights as a professional. Relying heavily on his right hand to dispatch of those in front of him, Bellew appeared to neglect the fundamentals at times and it almost proved costly. During two of those victories, against Bob Ajisafe and Ovill McKenzie, he had to come off the canvas in order to get the win. "Of the knockdowns I've had, I'd say only two were legitimate and they were in the McKenzie fight. If you watch the one against Ajisafe, it was a balance thing, I was caught square-on and it was more like a push. The first Mckenzie knockdown was as good as it looked, he hit me on the top of the head and I tried to step away and went down. The second one, I was flat on my face, and I don't remember much about it. It was a huge shot off a big puncher, that's what McKenzie is."

Bellew survived two knockdowns to stop McKenzie
In what was considered a 2010 Fight of the Year candidate on British soil, Bellew was on his back twice before rising to drop, and ultimately stop, Mckenzie in the eighth of a scheduled twelve. The much anticipated rematch between the pair was slated soon after and, with the British and Commonwealth light heavyweight titles on the line, Bellew left no doubt on the scorecards, winning by wide margins. "When I came out for the Mckenzie rematch, which was my first fight back with the Gaffer, my defense was improved and it's the little things that make a big difference in this game. I'm fighting to my strengths again but I'm happy I've been knocked down. It's another string in my bow, I'm happy that I proved I can recover from a knockdown. If someone is gonna beat me they better literally nail me to the canvas."

The sole defeat on Bellew's record came at the hands of rival Nathan Cleverly in October of 2011. His challenge for the WBO light heavyweight title in just his seventeenth fight as a professional surprised many and it was a terrific performance at a fairly premature stage in his career. In a fight that one judge scored even, Cleverly appeared to have a little more in the tank during the championship rounds but opinion was divided at the Echo Arena in Liverpool. "To be honest with you, there was no real pressure on me that night. I think everybody thought I was going to get blown away and that I wasn't on his level. I was just a British champion who was getting knocked down at the domestic level. No one expected me to do anything and I went in there and beat him, in my opinion. Some people think I lost, some people think I won, but nothing was expected of me."

Cleverly getting under Bellew's skin
Bellew, now 21-1-1 with 12 KO's, had been a late replacement to face Nathan Cleverly earlier in 2011 but failed to meet the contracted check-weight a few days prior to the fight. Having replaced former WBO champion Jurgen Brahmer, Bellew was himself replaced at the eleventh hour by Aleksy Kuziemski. The press conferences before both scheduled fights threatened to explode and the bad blood is evident still. "I just despise Cleverly," said Bellew. "I've never disliked my opponents [in the past] but he's just someone I can't even stand the sight of. His face, his name, I just despise him and out of eighty-odd fights in my career, he is the only person to get under my skin. I can't even bear to hear the wanker's name to be honest."

Bellew's career has gained momentum since the loss and his 2012 stoppage of Edison Miranda (35-7) demonstrated everything that is positive about him. He boxed and then battered the seasoned Colombian into an 8th round submission, making a statement along the way. In his next fight, against the highly rated Roberto Bolonti (30-1), Bellew suffered a terrible cut above his right eye in the opening round, yet went on to dominate the fight, dropping the Argentine twice early on and working his way to a shutout on all cards.

The win led Bellew to a final eliminator, ordered by the WBC, against once-beaten Isaac Chilemba which brought invaluable experience. "I learned a massive amount about the way to approach a fight and I learned to not get caught up in things. You have to separate yourself from things and I learned that in the first fight. I done too much in the build-up and I was exhausted in the end. I don't remember anything after the seventh round. I'm lucky to have not been knocked out." Despite the exhaustion gripping him late in the fight, Bellew managed to escape with a draw but could have come away with the win. According to Bellew, Buddy McGirt, the head-trainer of Chilemba, went on record to say Bellew had done enough to win. However, neither fighter complained too much after what was a competitive, yet messy affair that ultimately led to a rematch just two months later. "I'm happy it came through. Nobody knows that I didn't have to take the rematch if I didn't want to. I would have been named mandatory WBC challenger at the end of May anyway."

Bellew bombs Chilemba to win the rematch
The second fight, which was the chief support to Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler's rematch, started out at a healthy pace. Bellew pressed the action in the first round and although the work wasn't always the cleanest, he certainly found the target with the right hand. Chilemba, a crafty counter-puncher from Malawi, is hard to excel against. Besides being extremely tough and unorthodox, Chilemba (20-2-2) is also a quality fighter with a solid reputation and record. The two were producing another good fight, with some decent exchanges, but Bellew appeared the more creative.

"Nobody else has really beaten Chilemba," noted Bellew. "He lost a six round decision early on in his career and avenged it straight away and he's been unbeaten ever since." (And that includes a victory over highly touted Maxim Vlasov and a draw with hot-shot Thomas Oosthuizen.) "He's a guy that no one wants to fight and I've been in with him twice in ten weeks. He couldn't keep up with me."

With the final bell at the O2 Arena in London came a deserved victory for Bellew and an opportunity to contest for the WBC light heavyweight title. In Montreal last weekend, Adonis Stevenson became the new WBC champion when he knocked out Chad Dawson in just 76 seconds. The crushing left cross that dropped the former RING and WBC champion paved the way for a showdown with Bellew later in the year. "You've got be able to adapt, and that's one of my strong points. I can deal with any style that is put in front of me and that is what I plan on doing. Stevenson has that equalizer in his left hand and he is very powerful but he is also vulnerable himself. As we saw, he got knocked out by Darnell Boone who is essentially a journeyman, a high-class one, but a journeyman. Stevenson is a double-edged sword. He's either getting knocked out or he's gonna knock you out. Its as simple as that," said a candid Bellew.  

Now on course for his second world title challenge in just over twenty fights, Bellew will be more than ready should the Stevenson fight materialize. It may have seemed inconceivable six months ago that a fight between Stevenson and Bellew could headline an HBO card but it might not be such crazy talk now. Everybody loves a knockout and the pair have thirty between them. Bellew, now under the promotion of Eddie Hearn, is also in favor with Sky Sports and is capable of selling out in Liverpool. Stevenson, an adopted Canadian, has been a draw in Montreal for some time now. The fight makes sense any way you slice it - on HBO or not.

Will Bellew go on to become a world champion? Can he beat the power-punching Adonis Stevenson? He is not short of doubters and critics who will tell you he cannot. They have been a constant source of inspiration throughout his career but he is gradually thinning out the naysayers. His strengths as a fighter outweigh his weaknesses and you can do worse in this sport than to possess a tireless work ethic and a never-say-die type of attitude. Fellow Briton Carl Froch has surpassed the expectations of many at the world class level and a similar minded Bellew can do the same.
His goal is simple. "I just want to be a world champion."  

Written by Terry Strawson ~ exclusively for KO Digest

Look for a new KO Digest Spotlight on Up & Comers on the 15th of every month!

June 5, 2013

The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science - Women's Boxing Monthly Vol. 4

By Mark A. Jones – Women’s boxing continued to impress in the month of May, witnessing the retirement of Holly Holm from the sport after pleasing her massive New Mexico fan base one last time with a dominant ten round unanimous decision victory over Mary McGee.

Ava Knight traveled to Mexico where women’s boxing is wildly popular to defend her WBC Silver female flyweight title against Linda Soto, battering her challenger to retain the belt by unanimous decision. With the win, it marked the sixth consecutive time that Knight has fought in Mexico; she last graced the United States with her talent when she drew with Kaliesha West in a battle for the WBO bantamweight title in June, 2011.

Rising star Christina Hammer remained undefeated as she elevated in weight and pounded out a one-sided win over the defending WBF super middleweight champion, Zita Zatyko. Hammer displayed an elite skill level, suggesting that she will become a longtime superstar in women's boxing.

The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science takes a step in the right direction this summer as all-time influential women’s boxing pioneers Lucia Rijker and Mia St. John are scheduled to appear at the International Boxing Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Canastota, NY, June 6-9. In 2012, “The First Lady of Boxing” Cecilia Braekhus, attended the ceremonies and was well received. Stay tuned in July as KO Digest reports on the Jessica Chavez vs Yessica Yolanda Bopp superfight and the return to the ring of Ann Sophie Mathis.

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

Hammer (L) is a future star in women's boxing
On May 5 in Germany, the KO Digest #4 pound-for-pound female boxer, Christina Hammer (14-0, 7 KOs) Germany by way of Kazakhstan, the WBO, WBF middleweight champion, moved up in weight to challenge, Zita Zatyko (15-1-1, 11 KOs) Hungary, for Zatyko’s WBF super middleweight title and the newly created WBO super middleweight belt. Nicknamed “The Giant,” Zatyko measured an inch shorter than her upstart challenger but was four pounds heavier (162.50 vs 166.50) and ten years Hammer’s senior. Seizing the opportunity at super middleweight was inevitable for the 5’ 11” Hammer, who at the age of 22, is still growing into her athletic build.

During the referee’s instructions, the match-up was visually compelling as both fighters appeared in tremendous physical condition. Soon after the opening bell, it was obvious to even the novice boxing buff that Hammer owned far superior boxing skill and almost flawlessly executed her fight plan. In a similar fashion to longtime heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, Hammer relies on a deft jab and a superior understanding of range, forcing her opponent to assume a majority of the risk. In this battle, Zatyko had no answers for Hammer’s two-fisted attack, suffering a knockdown in the fourth round, barely lasting the stanza. In the fifth, Zatyko threw all caution to the wind, moving forward behind heavy punches, few of which landed. Hammer controlled the action over the remainder of the fight; her predictable, but steady attack placed Zatyko on the defensive, interested more in surviving the fight than winning it.

In the end, Hammer proved her worthiness as a pound-for-pound elite fighter by moving up in weight and dominating Zatyko, a fighter perceived to the best of a marginal collection of super middleweights. The scoring (100-90/99-91/99-91) indicated how dominating Hammer was in this contest. Due to the lack of challenges at both middleweight and super middleweight, there is little doubt that Hammer will make the move to heavyweight sooner rather than later.

On May 11 in New Mexico, the former KO Digest #1 pound-for-pound female, “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holly Holm (33-3-3, 9 KOs) Albuquerque, New Mexico, bested the hard-punching Mary McGee (20-2, 11 KOs) Gary, Indiana, winning every round on each card over ten rounds, successfully retaining her IBA and WBF light welterweight titles.

Holm beats McGee in her boxing swan song
McGee, who normally campaigns as a lightweight, was tailor-made to be exploited by Holm’s ambushing method of attack. While owning respectable hand speed, McGee has plodding footwork and needs to set her feet to punch, allowing Holm to evade her attacks with far superior movement. Holm started quickly, winning the first three rounds as McGee stood mostly stationary waiting to counter mistakes from Holm that weren’t coming. During the opening moments of the fourth round, McGee charged forward and was subsequently dropped by a check-hook from Holm only to have the knockdown ruled a slip by referee Richard Espinosa. McGee was also dropped in the tenth round by a well-placed straight left only to have that knockdown also ruled a slip.

Despite losing two points on miscalled knockdowns, Holm dominated the match on all three scorecards, 100-90. Like Jim Brown and Sandy Koufax, Holly retired in her prime, winning her last twenty rounds on all scorecards and compiling an impressive record in title fights of 22-1-1. An inspection of the boxing record compiled by Holm would suggest that she is a sure-fire future inductee into the IBHOF in Canastota, NY when eligible.

On May 17, at the Twin River Event Center, Lincoln, Rhode Island, Shelly “Shelito’s Way” Vincent (9-0, 0 KOs) Providence, Rhode Island, claimed the WIBA super bantamweight title by pounding out a one-sided ten round unanimous decision victory over the ever-tough, Angel Gladney (8-8-1, 6 KOs) Columbia, South Carolina. In the United States, rarely are female fights featured as main events. Vincent, whose popularity grows daily in New England, was rewarded with top billing by CES Promotions in her first of what is now expected to be many world title fights. Vincent employed her superior hand and foot speed to maneuver around Gladney’s straight-line attack, consistently beating her slower opponent to the punch. In round seven, Vincent was in her finest form, scoring a knockdown and nearly capturing her first career stoppage victory as Gladney barely survived the round. The final three rounds saw the defensively proficient but fan-friendly hometown fighter throw caution to the wind in an attempt to score a knockout, going toe-to-toe with her heavier punching opponent. The capacity crowd roared in agreement as the scoring, (80-71/79-72/79-72) all in favor of Vincent was announced. The win propels Vincent into the alphabet title picture at super bantamweight where Alicia Ashley (WBC), Yesica Patricia Marcos (WBA, WBO), and Katy Wilson Castillo (IBF) are the division's elite. Vincent was recently featured in the June 2013 edition of KO Digest Interview.

The third time was a charm for Mrdjenovich
On May 31, Jelena Mrdjenovich (29-9-1, 14 KOs) Edmonton, battled KO Digest’s #9 pound-for-pound female boxer, Melissa “HuracanShark” Hernandez (18-4-3, 6 KOs) Miami Beach, at the Shaw Conference Centre, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada for the third time in less than two years. In the two previous meetings, Hernandez escaped with a razor-thin split decision and most recently, in defense of her WBC female featherweight title, a comfortable ten-round unanimous decision victory over the hometown fan-favorite, Mrdjenovich. In this fist-flying affair, bloodied from an unintentional head-butt to the forehead in round two, Mrdjenovich rallied, scoring a knockdown in round five and fought aggressively in round six when the war was halted due to the severity of the cut. After the reading of the scorecards, Mrdjenovich became a six-time world champion, winning the WBC featherweight title by a unanimous technical decision (58-55/ 57-56/ 58-55). Mrdjenovich, now KO Digest’s #8 pound-for-pound female boxer and owner of a lethal left hook, battles top-level fighters each time out and now holds wins over Hernandez, St. John, Layla McCarter, Lindsay Garbatt, and Fujin Raika.

On May 31 in Argentina, yet another talented Argentinian female boxer established herself as a legitimate world title holder. Daniela “La Bonita” Romina Bermudez (14-2-2, 4 KOs) won the WBO female bantamweight title with a first round stoppage of Neisi Torres (8-1-1, 5 KOs) Barranquilla, Columbia. Performing impressively in losses to the world class Edith Soledad Matthysse and the pound-for-pound elite, Yesica Yolanda Bopp, both fellow Argentinians, Bermudez pounded her defensively deficient opponent from pillar to post causing the referee to stop the contest with twenty-five seconds left in the opening round. Torres, a professional boxer for less than a year, is perhaps one of the emptiest fighters to ever gain a legitimate world title shot, earning a record of (8-0-1, 5 KOs) by facing competition with a combined record of 1-33-2. That list of fighters, who could only aspire to be referred to as tomato cans, were knocked out twenty-three times. This mismatch aside, Bermudez is a multi-talented boxer-puncher with the ability to box off her back foot or aggressively pursuing her opponent, displaying an above average defense with the ability to counter-punch effectively. At the age of 23, Bermudez is currently the interim WBA female super flyweight champ and once held the interim WBA female bantamweight title. Add Bermudez to the long list of spectacular female boxing champions from Argentina which has a population approximate to that of the State of California.

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

Can Rijker ready Prazak for Wallberg?
On June 14, in Stockholm, Sweden, KO Digest’s #11 pound-for-pound female boxer, Frida “Golden Girl” Wallberg (11-0, 2 KOs) Gthenburg, Sweden, defends her WBC female super featherweight title when she battles the rocket-fisted Diana Prazak (11-2, 7 KOs) Los Angeles by way of Melbourne, Australia. The Lucia Rijker trained Prazak owns superior punching power that works in concert with her forward-moving aggressive style. Conversely, Wallberg, a boxer-puncher with underrated infighting skills, can take advantage of Prazak’s pedestrian foot speed with effective lateral movement and counter-punching. Prazak, fresh off a one-sided loss to Holm, has to knock out Wallberg to secure the title, and she knows it.

Due to injuries, nearly fourteen months have passed since Wallberg last swapped blows with a professional boxer in the ring. A glimmer of hope for Prazak is that Wallberg, who was once inactive for five years, isn’t in prime condition and that trainer Rijker can exploit Wallberg’s penchant for not always using her height well and her tendency to square off her stance at close quarters. 

On June 14, in Queens, New York, two New York City based prospects, Vanessa Greco (1-2-2, 0 KOs) and Susan Reno (1-1, 0 KOs) are scheduled to battle in a grudge match. Last January, Reno pounded her way to a controversial split decision victory over Greco, who it seems is always involved in close fights. Both fighters are former New York Daily News Golden Gloves Champions and are exceptionally well known within the New York City boxing scene. Along with her trainer, Lee Shabaka, Greco is a trainer of a women’s boxing team named “Team Freeform.” Many members of have won amateur titles in New York City and nationally. As a boxer, Greco possesses a high boxing IQ and is formidable as an infighter. Reno was featured in a recently released women’s boxing documentary titled, “Fight Like A Girl” by Jill Morley; she is an ultra-aggressive puncher with exceptional power in her right hand. After defeating Greco in her professional debut, Reno recently dropped a decision to a top-level Canadian prospect, Jacqueline Park.

La Pantera says come and get it TBA!
On June 15, KO Digest's #2 pound-for-pound female boxer, Erica Anabella Farias (16-0, 9 KOs) Argentina, one of the most feared punchers in women’s boxing, defends her WBC lightweight title against the ever-tough TBA. "La Pantera" Farias has knocked down nine of her last ten opponents, stopping eight of them with only Melissa Hernandez and Ann Saccurato escaping a stoppage defeat.

Other world champions facing TBA in June are Tiffany Junot the WBC light middleweight champion, Jessica Nery Plata the WBC light flyweight youth champion, and Ibeth Zamora Silva the WBC light flyweight title holder. Former world title holder, Amanda Serrano (17-1-1, 12 KOs) is in action on June 29 at Resorts World Casino in Queens, New York, also facing a yet to be named opponent.

On June 29 in Mexico City, Yazmin “La Rusita” Rivas (27-7, 9 KOs) Mexico, defends her IBF bantamweight title against Kimika Miyoshi (8-5-1, 3 KOs) Japan. At first glance, it would appear that Rivas would have an easy time defending against Miyoshi. A closer look reveals that Miyoshi recently defeated Riyo Togo by decision winning the OPBF bantamweight title in the process. In April, Togo scored a spectacular first round upset knockout of Mariana Juarez. Rivas struggled to get past the forty year old Maria Elena Villalobos (12-9) in her last defense, escaping with a razor-close split decision victory. Talented, but inconsistent best describes Rivas, who needs to be in top form to successfully defend her world title.

Three Questions - Sweet Side Q&A with Sonya Lamonakis

Lamonakis and promoter Lou DiBella
Sonya Lamonakis, a Greek born, Massachusetts raised, New York City school teacher who doubles as a world ranked professional heavyweight boxer, has much to say about the current status of women’s boxing. Starting from the bottom of the amateur ranks, losing her first three fights, Sonya endured, eventually becoming a four-time New York Daily News Golden Gloves Champion, a two-time National Champion, and a Ringside World Champion.

After compiling an amateur record of 25-6, Sonya became the first female fighter signed by well-known boxing promoter, Lou DiBella. Currently, Sonya has an excellent (7-1-1, 2 KOs) record as a professional. The lone blemish on her otherwise impressive ledger is discussed below in KO Digest’s brand new “Three Questions” feature.

Q: Many talented female boxers struggle to get noticed in an American society that more often than not shuns them. Has your extremely rewarding position as a New York City school teacher blunted any of these effects on you personally?

A: If anything, it's helped me. People respect boxers and not many boxers have an education to fall back on. I started boxing after my education, which gave me options. Women's boxing is improving and getting noticed more. I’m happy to be part of the movement to make that happen.

Q: Your promoter, Lou DiBella, should be congratulated on placing female boxers in prominent position on his cards. Following his lead, what other actions would propel women’s boxing forward in the United States?

A: I wish more promoters would. Women need to be better compensated for their fights, but there is no money in women's boxing. Maybe if they started putting women's boxing on ESPN or HBO, it would help get the women more noticed. Honestly, we're just trying to survive in a male dominated sport. The recent progression is very helpful as we continue our uphill battle to be noticed.

Q: In your most recent bout, a decision loss to Martha Salazar, mistakes were made by the California Boxing Commission. Could you describe them? Will the outcome be changed to a no decision?

A: The Commission said they would change it but they said it would take a couple months. It has to go in front of a committee. She never came to the weigh-in on Friday, they never picked me up at the airport, and had no hotel room for me. When we asked to watch her hands get wrapped they said it was too late. The six rounds were three minute rounds which was never discussed. There was a mistake by the commission. I want a rematch here in NY, where they do things correctly. Drug tests, pro gloves, weigh in, pre-fight physical, and witnessed hand wrapping.

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

#3 P4P rated Ava Knight wins again in Mexico
1- Cecilia Braekhus (22-0, 6 KOs)  WW
2- Erica Anabella Farias (16-0, 9 KOs) LW
3- Ava Knight (12-1-3, 5 KOs) Fly
4- Christina Hammer (14-0, 7 KOs) SMW, MW
5- Jessica Chavez (18-3-2, 4 KOs) JFly
6- Yesica Yolanda Bopp (24-1, 11 KOs) JFly
7- Anne Sophie Mathis (27-3, 24 KOs) JMW
8- Jelena Mrdjenovich (29-9-1, 14 KOs) FW
9- Melissa Hernandez (18-4-3, 6 KOs) FW
10- Layla McCarter (35-13-5, 8 KOs) JMW
11- Frida Wallberg (11-0, 2 KOs) SFW
12- Esmeralda Moreno (25-6, 9 KOs) JFly  

"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

June 1, 2013

KO Digest Interview: Shelito Vincent - "Boxing saved my life"

Shelito's Way is Manfredo's Way
In many ways, boxing is a microcosm of life. At its purest, the “Sweet Science” is a beautiful sport, an art form in which the smartest man typically triumphs. While the reward is gratifying, the path to success is bumpy, filled with obstacles—myriad twists and turns that can lead away the meek and unworthy. The cream always rises to the top in the end, but the rise can be slow and awfully unsteady.

The life which led Shelly "Shelito" Vincent to boxing was hardly filled with sunshine and suburbs. Before entering the ring, she was already molded into a fighter, battling off emotions, temptations, and the demons both outside and within. Compounded by the death of her mother from leukemia, a detour into drugs, and even a jail stint, Shelly lashed out like a predator to adapt to her surroundings, where circumstances she deemed to be out of her control preyed on her and drained her emotionally.

It’s no exaggeration to say boxing is all that's kept the 34 year old Vincent alive. Winning The Nationals as an amateur gave her a sense of achievement and pride that fueled her fire to get on the right track and stay there. Armed with a continually improving skill set and upper echelon conditioning - a strong start to a boxing career under the guidance of Providence, Rhode Island's Peter Manfredo Sr has given Shelly something even more important: a second family. “Shelito’s Way” is about more than pushing harder than anyone else in the gym and striving for a world title while compiling a 9-0 professional record and obtaining the WIBA super bantamweight title—it’s about giving back, helping the community, and making every effort possible to be a positive role model.

KO Digest's Joel Sebastianelli: You’ve been boxing professionally for over a year and a half now, debuting when you were 32 years old. When and how were you first drawn into the ring and why make the decision to turn pro when you did? How long was your career in the amateurs?

Shelito Vincent: Ten or eleven years [in the amateurs] but I took a few years off at a time. I got into some trouble, did a little time, then my mother passed and I needed to beat depression. I stopped there for a while and it took me a bit to snap out. When I won The Nationals, I figured I was getting older, and that [turning pro] would be the best thing to do. I finally got back in the sport and started taking it seriously. I always thought I would be a better pro than an amateur anyway because of my style.

In the gym with Peter Manfredo Sr
KOD: You've trained with Peter Manfredo Sr for most of your career. How has working with one of the most prominent trainers in New England helped you progress as a fighter? How has your career and fighting style changed from the first bout of your professional career up to now?

SV: The style I had before, I was using my feet to step back and counter a bit more, but now he’s got me more inside and like an aggressive fighter. I throw thousands of more punches now. I still use the head movement and the foot movement, but I’m more aggressive and he’s made me a stronger fighter. From the minute I started working with Peter, every single fight I got better and stronger. That’s actually the trainer I wanted to start with, but they told me he didn’t really like dealing with females at that point. I decided to go and ask him myself, and ever since he just keeps escalating my skill. I’m blessed to have Peter.

KOD: What’s a typical training camp like for you?

SV: Crazy! They’re always crazy and emotional, but the boxing part is the easy part. My conditioning is always great, I always feel good, the weight always comes off good, but it seems like somebody always dies during camp. Emotionally, it gets crazy. I deal with a lot of emotions in my head. I dealt with a tough childhood and I’ve been through a lot of stuff that most people would probably be dead from. I deal with that part a lot, but I go and speak to kids about this—anything for the kids and cancer. I deal with those demons every day, and I think that’s the hardest part.

KOD: Outside of prizefighting, you spend a lot of your time working with kids. What do you do with them and why do you do it?

SV: I train kids, I give back to the community, and go to schools and I go to anywhere there’s troubled youth. I talk to these kids because during all of the stuff that I went through, I felt like if I had one person talk to me, my life would have been totally different. I try to be that person for as many kids as I can. As long as I can just save one, that’s good for me. I want to get out there and touch as many lives as I can because my life would have been totally different if I had somebody talk to me like me and understood where I was coming from.

KOD: What do you tell them?

SV: I tell them the stuff I’ve been through, how I dealt with it, and how I should have done certain things sooner, like talk to somebody. There’s always somebody out there, and you always feel better if you get it out. I turned to alcohol and went through a drug thing. My life would have been totally different if my mother didn’t pass away and I had somebody I could have talked to that I could trust. I was abused a lot, and I had a lot of bad stuff happen. I went to the Northern Rhode Island Collaborative School and all of those kids came to my title fight and they walked me out. Seeing them in front of me when I’m walking out and knowing that I inspired some of them made me feel good and makes me fight harder when I get in the ring because those kids symbolize me.

KOD: Your career is off to a great start, but life leading up to your professional debut has been quite difficult. What struggles have you been faced with and how have they changed you as a person?

SV: I was a great student in school and a real sweet kid until my mother’s boyfriend raped me when I was 13. It happened a few times and being as I was a child, I was more embarrassed by what the kids would say at school. Now that I’m older, I realize that I should have protected myself more. I try to talk to the kids about that, and actually, a lot of the kids reach out and talk to me afterwards so I know it’s impacting people. You’re never really comfortable talking about it, but it makes you feel good and makes you feel like your story should be out there if it’s going to save somebody else, you know?

KOD: Do your complex emotions outside of the ring carryover to your actions inside the ring?

SV: My mother died from leukemia at age 37. I do cancer walks, leukemia walks, anything like that in memory of my mother. I give all the money back. On fight night, you’re fighting my mother, you’re fighting the guy who raped me, you’re fighting all the troubles I’ve been through, so when it comes to fight night, you’re not just fighting me, you’re fighting a lot. It definitely helps me.

The wildly popular Shelito wins again in Rhode Island
KOD: Most recently, you were victorious in Rhode Island on May 17 against Angel Gladney by unanimous decision. The bout was the undisputed fight of the night, a back and forth, toe-to-toe battle. Take us through the triumph on fight night from your perspective.

SV: That was the biggest fight that I’ve ever went into. That’s the fight that I’ve dreamed of since I got into boxing. You want to win a belt. I won a little amateur belt, now I’ve won a pro belt, and I want to get a bunch more and win a world title.

KOD: To the outside observer, it seems like things have really settled down in your life and things have taken a turn for the better. What do you credit the most for helping to calm you down and focus on turning your life around?

SV: It’s the boxing. Boxing saved my life, period. If I’m having a bad day, I go out for a run. If I feel terrible, I go in and hit the bag and I cry. Peter, Mary [Del Pino Morgan], the ladies over at Striking Beauties, they’ve given me somebody to talk to, like a new family giving me their guidance and getting me through these things. I owe a lot to all of them. Peter is like a father to me, Mary is like a mother. Without them, I’d be a mess. It’s definitely getting better and I’m talking to people now, but every once in a while, holidays come and I think about my mother and it triggers all that stuff. Boxing has given me a second family, and it helps me release that tension and stress. Without boxing, I would have been dead if I didn’t get back into it when I did.

KOD: Was Gladney a tougher foe than you originally expected? She entered the fight with a record of 8-7-1 and the consensus from many local fans was that you would win easily.

SV: Angel Gladney was tough, man. I hit her with everything, and everything was landing. She hit me with some shots also. I thought I was going to get her out of there a couple of times, but she’s a tough girl. Hats off to her. She definitely came to fight. The thing that had me nervous was that she had the six knockouts in her eight wins. The only times she ever lost were against the top females in the game like Kaliesha West and Ana Julaton, and I knew she had the power behind her. Actually, it was a little easier than I thought it would be, but she was really tough, especially in those last two rounds when she felt the strongest.

Team Vincent a second family for Shelito

KOD: By virtue of that fight nearly two weeks ago, you also earned your first title, the WIBA super bantamweight crown. How does that accomplishment rank among the accolades you’ve achieved so far?

SV: From the day I got into boxing, that was the goal, to get some belts. I want a world title now, so I’m back in the gym and working hard. Now that I’ve achieved that goal, I need to push harder. I want more. I make sure that nobody has better conditioning than me. Come fight night, that girl is definitely not going to be in better shape than me. Sometime it all comes down to conditioning. Peter teaches me some great stuff, but with him, I will never not be in top condition.

KOD: Which fighters are you interested in fighting and where do you see your career going from this stage?

SV: I’m going to go until I can’t walk anymore and my arms stop working! There’s a lot of great girls out there, and I fight between 119 and 122 pounds now. I guess Kaliesha would be a good fight since she’s number one, Julaton is number two, but there’s some girls we can’t get any tape on. For some reason, we can’t get fights at 119 so that’s why we moved up to 122. I started out at 119 lbs. and I would have liked to have stayed at 119, but we couldn’t get anything. When I was down there, it seemed like I was fighting bigger girls anyway. But I can adapt to anything.

KOD: Most of your fights are held at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island, and you almost always the most popular fighter on the card. How have you acquired such a strong following?

SV: I love it. I think that’s what makes me work hard, because when I have my city out there, New London, Connecticut, half of the city comes every time I fight. I’ve fought at Foxwoods twice and Mohegan Sun twice, and I’m even starting to get followers out here too, so it’s amazing. It keeps you going. I’ve been through a lot of stuff, so to know that people are out there supporting you and have that love for you, it definitely makes you work harder and drive harder. But I’m going to do whatever Jimmy [Burchfield] tells me to do. I just listen to my management and CES and I’ll fight wherever.

Vincent enjoys a CES fan following
KOD: Skeptics might look and your 9-0 record and point out that none of your wins have come by knockout. Why should that argument be irrelevant?

SV: I know I haven’t had that knockout yet, but it’s coming. You guys have seen the fights against Carmen Cruz, who was seconds out of the way, and even Gladney. I dropped her twice, because I thought the first one was legit. If you look back at the tape, you see the sweat fly off her head and she hits the floor. I thought the referee was going to stop it. It hasn’t come yet, but I’m going to shock y’all with that one! I want it, but I’m more after a W. Nobody is going to outwork me.

KOD: Vincent versus Gladney was also the main event on a Friday night card. This was the first time you’ve ever been bestowed that position on the fight card and you’re following and success is growing. Do you feel as though the majority of boxing fans are starting to support and accept women’s boxing? 

SV: Yeah, especially down here. They really come out and support me here, but I don’t know about other states. I’ve been the co-main for five or six of the fights I’ve had because of the people who come out and support me so much. I really do think that on most of the cards I was on, we’d put on one of the most exciting fights because my opponents all come to fight. I think they’re definitely embracing it in this area. It would be nice if we could get some TV time like they do for the MMA girls, but we’re struggling with that. I think my fights are pretty exciting, I think that people would tune in, especially with the tickets I sell. Imagine if there were TV times, people that couldn’t afford to come would tune in.

KOD: In the 2012 Olympic Games in London, women’s boxing was a new addition and Americans like Claressa Shields were prominently featured live on television and through advertisements. How important do you feel last summer’s Olympics were for the future of women’s boxing? What’s you take on the female super bantamweight division, and on the state of women’s boxing as a whole?

SV: It’s moving in the right direction out here, they’re treating us great, Jimmy treats me great, but people need to give us a chance and give us a look. We have a lot of talented girls out there who are exciting enough to be on TV, but they won’t give us a chance. People out here saw me fight and started supporting me. They can do this in other areas too. Ava Knight is exciting. They should all get more TV time but it’s a struggle. In the Olympics, the girls did better than the guys.

The Future of Boxing

KO Digest Interview conducted by Joel "The Future" Sebastianelli

Joel joined KO Digest in January 2013 and has been a fixture on press row in the New England area for three years. In 2012, he served as the host of “The Boxing Fix” on Leave it in the Ring Radio.
Sebastianelli is the future of boxing journalism and broadcasting.  

Joel can be found Tweeting on Twitter @JJSebastianelli