|The modern age of women's boxing begins in 1996|
Generally, more popular throughout the rest of the world, women’s boxing has registered on the Richter Magnitude Scale of American sports only sporadically. During the 1950's, “The Mighty Atom of the Ring,” Barbara Buttrick barnstormed the United States, engaging in exhibitions often against male boxers and she became the first female boxer to have her fight broadcast on television. In the late 70's, Cathy “Cat” Davis, a puncher from Poughkeepsie, New York, appeared on network television and the August 1978 cover of “The Ring Magazine.” Led by Christy Martin, Mia St John, and Laila Ali; women’s boxing had a momentary resurrection of popularity beginning in the mid-90's when Hall of Fame boxing promoter Don King placed Martin on the undercard of Mike Tyson pay-per-view cards.
Currently, American female fighters, even those that are highly rated, are regional attractions having to travel abroad to participate in prestigious fights. In 2013, the following world class, American-based female fighters fought outside the United States: Diana Prazak (Sweden), Melissa Hernandez (Canada), Alicia Ashley (Mexico), Ava Knight (Mexico), Melissa McMorrow (Germany), Carina Moreno (Germany), and Tori Nelson (Bermuda).
|Marcos and Acuna find large crowds outside the US|
How is this international success comparable to women’s boxing in the United States? As women continue to overcome gender stereotypes that exist within the “old-boy network” in male-driven societies and when women’s boxing is promoted on an equal basis with men’s boxing, it thrives. The wind is unquestionably blowing in that direction.
Women’s boxing in 2013 accelerated to high-speed out of the blocks with “The Blossom Murderer” Yesica Patricia Marcos (22-0-2, 7 KOs) successfully defending her WBO & WBA female super bantamweight titles by battling to a controversial split-draw with “La Tigresa” Marcela Eliana Acuna (40-6-1, 17 KOs) on Jan 25 in San Martin, Mendoza, Argentina. The bout drew a live audience of 45,000 and was televised on Argentina TyC Sports. Just one week later, on February 2 at the Berkeley Institute Gym, in Pembroke, Bermuda, the WBA female middleweight champion Teresa Perozzi (9-4-3, 1 KO) of Warwick, Bermuda, met Tori Nelson (8-0-3, 0 KOs) for the vacant WBC female middleweight title. This was a rematch of their October 2012 battle in Southampton, Bermuda, which ended in a majority-draw with a single Bermuda-based judge favoring Perozzi. In the rematch, the judges, for a second time couldn’t establish a winner ruling the fight a split-draw. The third round was “The Round of the Year” in women’s boxing witnessing both fighters taste the canvas. Early in the round, Perozzi was the first to hit the deck when she caught a counter right cross, the trademark punch of Nelson. Perozzi, a southpaw, after rising quickly returned the favor by knocking down Nelson with a straight-left cross. With the crowd on their feet, the remainder of the round was an intense fist-flying affair with neither fighter gaining a foothold that would lend them well later in the fight. Listed below, is the rest of the “Best of 2013” in women’s boxing.
Sweet Side of the Sweet Science Year End Award Winners:
Fight of the Year: Melissa McMorrow SD10 Nadia Raoui
|McMorrow beats Raoui in the 2013 Fight of the year|
In this fist-flying affair against a brilliant counter-boxer in Raoui, McMorrow bobbed-and-weaved evading most of what the challenger had to offer. McMorrow’s sheer volume (upwards of 90 punches a round) gradually wore down Raoui who faded over the final few stanzas allowing the champion to achieve the necessary separation on the score cards in what was otherwise a closely contested championship fight.
The contest was placed on the undercard of the Robert Stieglitz vs Arthur Abraham II WBO super middleweight title fight. It was the only 2013 performance by McMorrow, who is promoted by German-based SES Boxing and televised on German television and Box Nation. McMorrow said of her battle with Raoui and her goals for 2014, “Fighting on this card was spectacular. I truly hope everyone in Germany (and in the UK and US, wherever it showed, and all those who regularly watch YouTube) really enjoyed it. Nadia Raoui is a deceptively strong fighter, especially on the inside where I like to fight. I am really honored that she brought her best to the fight. I see it as a huge compliment can't wait to get in the ring again. I want the WBA & WBC titles. I never set my goals low, so that is the goal for 2014!”
Best of the Rest: Diana Prazak KO8 Frida Wallberg, Jelena Mrdjenovich TD6 Melissa Hernandez,
Jessica Chavez D10 Arely Mucino, and Jessica Chavez UD10 Yesica Yolanda Bopp.
Knockout of the Year: Diana Prazak KO8 Frida Wallberg
|Prazak levels Wallberg|
Midway through the eighth, Prazak landed a crushing counter left-hook that knocked Wallberg to the canvas. Rising from the knockdown at the count of three, Wallberg appeared unsteady, using the entire eight-count to shake off the daze. Prazak won the WBC female super-featherweight title moments later landing a right to the jaw that leveled Wallberg forcing an immediate referee stoppage.
The post-fight scene in the ring was an indictment on the lack of a well-seasoned boxing culture in Sweden and the utter incompetence of Wallberg’s trainer William Nguesseu who himself retired from boxing due to a head injury. Nguesseu failed to accommodate his freshly knocked out fighter with a stool, instead allowing her to be examined by the ringside physician while slumped over the ropes. Only after the prompting of Prazak and Rijker, was Wallberg positioned on a stool where she was evaluated for a second time by the ringside physician. As a result of Team Prazak’s timely intervention, Wallberg was removed from the ring on a stretcher and rushed to a hospital where it was discovered that she sustained a subdural hematoma which required emergency brain surgery and a medically induced coma.
During a post-fight interview, Prazak said, “This takes everything away from the victory. Everybody wants to win on a knockout, but nobody wants to win this way. It doesn't feel like I have won anything at all. I am praying for her.”
Since the fight, Wallberg has suffered from headaches and brain fatigue, but she has improved recently.
Best of the Rest: Oxandia Castillo TKO2 Hanna Gabriel, Alejandra Marina Oliveras KO5 Calixta Silgado,
Zulina Munoz KO1 Maribel Ramirez, and Riyo Togo TKO1 Mariana Juarez.
Upset of the Year: Riyo Togo TKO1 Mariana Juarez
|Togo upsets Juarez but did she cheat to win?|
Juarez (38-7-3, 16 KOs) rebounded in the rematch winning a one-sided unanimous decision over Togo (11-5-1, 9 KOs). "Togo's team," according to WBC inspector Dr. Soberanes "had moved aside the padding from the front part of the glove to attain more punching force. The knuckles were protected by just the hand wrap and skin." Said Juarez on the issue of Togo's glove padding, "After finding out that they had seized the gloves last Saturday, it made me question whether she fought like that when she knocked me out in one round. On that occasion, I felt that her punches were very hard and look, I can take a punch and I've fought against some very heavy punchers.”
Best of the Rest: Jessica Gonzalez SD10 Yazmin Rivas, Diana Prazak KO8 Frida Wallberg, and
Anabel Ortiz SD10 Etsuko Tada.
Comeback of the Year: Susi “Killer Queen” Kentikian
Swarming 26-year-old flyweight Susi “Killer Queen” Kentikian (32-2, 16 KOs) of Hamburg, Germany, by way of Yerevan, Armenia, experienced a traumatic 2012 as two American flyweights from California, USA, left Germany with her WBA, WIBF, and WBO world flyweight titles. In May 2012, “Mighty” Melissa McMorrow lifted the WBO and WIBF titles from Kentikian (MD10) spoiling “Killer Queen’s” twelfth defense of the WIBF strap. In December, Carina Moreno ruined Christmas and Kentikian’s fifteenth defense of the WBA flyweight title by winning a closely contested ten-round, split-decision. Kentikian said of 2012, “Last year I had to take two highly controversial defeats. I knew then no longer whether boxing at all is the right thing for me. I was briefly dropped, but I am quickly got up again. 2013 is a fresh start for me. Yes, I'm back! And the feel stronger than ever before.”
|Suzi got her groove back and some new belts|
In February, Kentikian battled undefeated contender Sanae Jah of Belgium for the interim WBA flyweight title. Entering the fight with only seven bouts and two stoppage wins, it was supposed to be a fight where the drastically more experienced former champion “got her groove back.” Kentikian defeated Jah (UD10) and secured the interim title but struggled with her timing and took unnecessary punishment.
She showed much better in her July rematch with Moreno winning the full WBA female flyweight title with a ten-round unanimous decision 97-93, 97-93, 96-94 over the talented American counter-puncher. Kentikian said of her effort, “the first rounds, I won, and in the middle of the fight, it was two rounds for her, but those were tactical rounds for me." In December, skilled southpaw and former two-division champion, Simona “Romagna Queen” Galassi hoped spoil the holiday season for the “Killer Queen” by taking the WBA title back to Forli, Emilia Romagna, Italy; however, her 41-year-old legs failed to keep her away from the younger champion losing a unanimous decision 98.5-94, 99-91.5, 97-95.5. Entering 2014 on a three-fight winning streak and the WBA flyweight title securely around her waist, “Susi has her groove back” and will look to add to her already impressive legacy.
Best of the Rest: Marcela Eilana Acuna, Tori Nelson, and Jelena Mrdjenovich.
Robbery of the Year: Jennifer Retzke D10 Florence Muthoni
|IBO title still vacant after a draw robbed Muthoni (R)|
However, of the assigned judges, only Italian Giulio Piras ruled in favor of Muthoni (96-94) while Matteo Monetella (Italy) and Erich Stuempfl (Germany) issued identical scorecards of (95-95) allowing Retzke to escape with a majority-draw keeping her reputation as a future star at welterweight intact. The belief that German-based fighters receive the benefit of the doubt on German soil in closely contested title fights held true in this matchup.
Worst of the Rest: Yesica Marcos D10 Marcela Acuna, Janeth Perez UD10 Galina Ivanova,
Irma Garcia UD10 Janeth Perez (first fight).
Event of the Year: Holly Holm Leaves Boxing for MMA
On April 16 the 31-year-old pound-for-pound No. 1-rated female boxer, Holly “The Preacher’s Daughter” Holm (33-2-3, 9 KOs) shocked the boxing world and announced that after her May 11 title defense against Mary McGee (Holm won a ten-round unanimous decision) that she would bid adieu to the boxing ring in favor of the octagon of mixed martial arts.
|Holm's decision was a blow to women's boxing|
In reality, Holm’s retirement represented the last symbolic shovel full of dirt placed on top of arguably one the most anticipated match-ups in the history of women’s boxing (Holm vs Braekhus). Holm, a 3-division champion, defeated a who’s who in women’s boxing including Christy Martin, Mia St. John, Anne Sophie Mathis, Mary Jo Sanders, and Jane Couch; pounding out an amazing (21-1-1) record in world title fights.
Best of the Rest: International Olympic Committee rejecting a plan to increase the number of medal events for female boxers in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Irish superstar Katie Taylor draws 20,000 in Bray, Ireland, Marcela Eilana Acuna vs Yesica Patricia Marcos championship fight draws 45,000 spectators in Argentina.
KO Digest Sweet Side of the Sweet Science Fighter of the Year: Delfine Persoon
|2013 Female Fighter of the Year Delfine Persoon|
In a March 2012 WBC lightweight title eliminator bout, Persoon was victorious over Kremena Petkova (KO2), as a result, the WBC held purse bids in December for a WBC lightweight title fight between champion, Erica Anabella “Pantera” Farias (18-0, 9 KOs) and Persoon. Belgian promoter Filiep Tampere won the purse bid offering $61,101. The super-fight between Farias and Persoon will take place on April 20 at Zwevezele, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.
Best of the Rest: Ibeth Zamora Silva, Christina Hammer, Jessica Chavez, Erica Anabella Farias, and Marcela Acuna.
Prospect of the Year: Flyweight Joselyn Arroyo Ruiz
|Princess Tapatia is the Prospect of the Year|
Hailing from the boxing rich heritage of Guadalajara, Mexico, Arroyo Ruiz pays proper homage to Mexican female boxing legends Jackie Nava and Ana Maria Torres who came before her. "What they have achieved Jackie Nava and Ana Maria Torres is great for women's boxing, they opened the way for new generations of boxing as in my case, they are an example and motivation", said Arroyo Ruiz.
With the mentality of a boxer-puncher, Arroyo Ruiz battles out of the orthodox stance enjoying a stiff jab that enables her to land accurately in combination behind it. Her defensive abilities and understanding of range are remarkable enough to challenge the flyweight division’s elite. Currently, she enjoys lofty ratings by the (WBC #10) and the (WIBA #14) and should close in on title contention in 2014.
Best of the Rest: Shelley Vincent, Maria Suarez, Jemyma Betrain, Gina Chamie, and Heather Hardy.
The Sweet Side State of the Game:
|Ireland's Taylor is the world's best female amateur boxer|
Best Boxer: Cecilia Braekhus
Best Slugger: Erica Anabella Farias
Best Defense: Alicia Ashley
Counter Puncher: Marcela Eilana Acuna
Power Puncher: Anne Sophie Mathis
Body Puncher: Yesica Patricia Marcos
Most Aggressive: Alejandra Marina Oliveras
Best Jab: Cecilia Braekhus
Left Hook: Jelena Mrdjenovich
Right Cross: Erica Anabella Farias
Most Fun to Watch Like Rocky Balboa: Zulina Munoz
Best Fighter Nobody Knows About: Su-Yun Hong
Five Fights We Want To See In 2014:
Ava Knight vs Melissa McMorrow - The two best American fighters are flyweights from California.
Diana Prazak vs Amanda Serrano - Both these female fighters throw heavy leather.
Erica Anabella Farias vs Delfine Persoon - The two best lightweights in the world by a mile.
Mariana Juarez vs Zulina Munoz - The popularity of Juarez against the raw power of Munoz.
Cecilia Braekhus or Ann Sophie Mathis vs Christina Hammer - Two division champion Hammer is running out of options at middleweight and super middleweight and needs a legacy bout before an eventual move to heavyweight.
KO Digest's Dynamite Dozen Pound-for-Pound Ratings:
|The First Lady of boxing is #1 P4P|
1- Cecilia Braekhus (23-0, 7 KOs) Norway
2- Erica Farias (18-0, 9 KOs) Argentina
3- Christina Hammer (16-0, 8 KOs) Germany
4- Yesica Bopp (26-1, 12 KOs) Argentina
5- Ann Sophie Mathis (27-3, 23 KOs) France
6- Marcela Acuna (40-6-1, 17 KOs) Argentina
7- Jessica Chavez (19-3-3, 4 KOs) Mexico
8- Delfine Persoon (28-1, 13 KOs) Belgium
9- Jelena Mrdjenovich (31-9-1, 16 KOs) Canada
10- Diana Prazak (12-2, 8 KOs) Australia/USA
11- Ibeth Zamora Silva (19-5, 8 KOs) Mexico
12- Naoko Fujioka (11-0, 6 KOs) Japan
"The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science" is written by women's boxing expert Mark Jones - exclusively for KO Digest. Find more of Mark's work on his women's boxing blog: Boxing Jones