May 6, 2014

The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science - Women's Boxing Monthly Vol 12

Team Braekhus breaks from Team Sauerland
By Mark A. Jones – On April 24 Cecilia Braekhus, 32, the consensus #1 pound-for-pound female professional boxer announced at a press conference that her contract with Team Sauerland is exhausted and that she will now assume the duties of promoter. The new ‘Team Braekhus’ consists of commercial manager Rune Brynhildsen and lawyers Morten Andreassen and John Elden. Frustrated with not securing the matches she desired, Braekhus claims it has been mentally exhausting at times and that the dialogue with the promoter’s company has been messy. Braekhus told NRK, “The fourth belt, the IBF belt, I've always dreamed of. It would be something historic. One such game I wanted in Sauerland, but I have not been told why I did not get to box for it.” Braekhus currently holds the WBC, WBO, & WBA welterweight titles. Team Sauerland reported to NRK, “Cecilia is a generous woman, but she has been influenced by the people around her who are looking to make quick money now that the Norwegian pro box ban is about to be abolished.” Team Sauerland is certain that Braekhus is still contractually bound to them. This is just the opening salvo by both Team Braekhus and Team Sauerland; negotiations and litigation will likely take several months before a conclusion is realized.

New York Golden Glove Hall of Famer Jean Martin
In the amateur ranks, at the 87th annual New York Daily News Golden Gloves finals at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, held on April 17-18, Christina Cruz (Atlas Cops & Kids) won an unprecedented 8th Golden Gloves title defeating Jennifer Chieng (Gleason’s Gym) by a 3-0 decision in the 125 pound women’s final. Nisa Rodriguez (Mendez BC) won her 5th Golden Gloves final with a 3-0 decision over Jamie Benson (TSMMA) in the 154 pound women’s final. With the win, Rodriguez joins elite company with five titles, which places second behind Christina Cruz (8) historically in the tournament. Rodriguez told KO Digest, “The days leading up it wasn't a sure fight. My son was in and out the hospital with asthma/ammonia, so I didn't train that week and was relaying on my talents, but it's just something more I leave. What we leave behind in this life is the memory of who we were and what we did. I have accomplished what many tried and few have succeeded.” A dozen boxers and four pioneers were inducted into the New York Daily News Golden Gloves Hall of Fame as the inaugural class. Among them, New York City Police Sergeant Jean Martin. During her amateur boxing career, she won five New York Daily News Golden Gloves titles 1998-2000 and 2003-04. Martin joins Sugar Ray Robinson, Floyd Patterson, and Mark Breland among others as the “Golden Dozen” the first-ever boxer inductees.

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

Enriquez beats Blackshear
On April 4 at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel in San Diego, USA, in the co-main event, 20-year-old Kenia Enriquez, 107 ½, of Tijuana, Mexico, dispensed with the prospect tag and matured into a serious contender by winning the NABF female light-flyweight title stopping veteran Jolene Blackshear, 107, of San Diego in the seventh round of a scheduled ten. Enriquez (11-0, 6 KOs) broke down the experienced Blackshear (8-5, 3 KOs) by working behind a deft left jab which enabled her to slide in and out landing hard combinations to the body and head. Blackshear, 43, had enough success with the counter right cross to bloody the nose of Enriquez keeping her younger opponent honest in her pursuit for six rounds. In the seventh, Enriquez trapped a hurt and battered Blackshear in a neutral corner and unleashed a fury of punches leading to a referee stoppage at the 1:26 mark of the round. The impressive victory over Blackshear is the third win by Enriquez in 2014. Enriquez, who now boasts forty rounds of professional experience, emerged from the corner and tasted the seventh round for the first time, likely needs to be extended in a fight before taking on the cream of the light-flyweight division. On the undercard, another female boxer from San Diego, light-flyweight prospect Amaris Quintana, 108, improved to (7-2-2, 1 KO) with a six-round decision victory (60-54 x 3) over Susan Reno, 108, (1-2-1) of New York City.  

Bopp is the best light flyweight in the world
KO Digest Top Five Light-Flyweights (108):

1- Yesica Yolanda Bopp (Argentina) 
2- Ibeth Zamora Silva (Mexico)
3- Jessica Chavez (Mexico)
4- Arely Mucino (Mexico)
5- Jessica Nery Plata (Mexico)

On April 12 in Bolivar, Argentina, in her second fight back from a seven-year hiatus from the ring, brutal puncher Paola Gabriela Casalinuovo, 154, won the vacant IBF female light-middleweight title by stopping Yajaira Hernandez, 153, in the seventh round of what can only be described as a war. Casalinuovo (11-0, 11 KOs) of Buenos Aires, just another in a long line of Argentine female professional boxing champions, suffered a knockdown in round six; not to be outdone, she rallied dropping the wide-punching Hernandez, now (15-6, 9 KOs), twice with counter punches before the completion of the sixth round. In round seven, a visibly tired Hernandez suffered a third knockdown before a referee stoppage saved her from further punishment.

Casalinuovo continues her comeback
Hernandez protested the stoppage vehemently, but to no avail. The elite punching power of Casalinuovo, who holds eight first-round knockouts, will vault her into contention with the elite of the light-middleweight division. It was the sixth unsuccessful world title challenge by Hernandez of Santiago, Dominican Republic.

KO Digest Top Five Light-Middleweights (154):

1- Ann Sophie Mathis (France)
2- Maria Lindberg (Sweden)
3- Jessica Balogun (Germany)
4- Mikaela Lauren (Sweden)
5- Paola Casalinuovo (Argentina)

On April 20 in Zwevezele, Belgium, in a battle for supremacy of the lightweight division of women’s boxing, 2013 KO Digest Female Boxer of the Year Delfine Persoon won the WBC lightweight title with a ten-round unanimous decision victory (96-92/96-92/96-93) over Erica Anabella Farias. Farias (19-1, 9 KOs) Virreyes, Argentina, was making the twelfth defense of her former title. The prestigious WBC lightweight title will now join the WIBF, WBF, and WIBA lightweight belts around the waist of Persoon. Employing a size and strength advantage, Persoon (29-1, 13 KOs) Roeselare, Belgium, crowded Farias on the inside not allowing the arguably more skilled Argentine the room she requires to operate comfortably. During the course of the battle, Farias was deducted two points for headbutts (7th & 9th) and Persoon lost a point in round seven for an infraction of the rules, the nature of which was unclear.

Persoon beat Farias to become top girl at lightweight
With the win, Persoon now calls the shots at lightweight; she will probably defend her titles against European contenders to maximize her popularity in that region. Farias also has options. The loss could pave the way for a move to light-welterweight which is dominated by Argentine fighters. Lightweight title matches with Victoria Bustos (IBF) or Maria Elena Maderna (WBO) are also possibilities for Farias.

KO Digest Top 5 Lightweights (135):

1- Delfine Persoon (Belgium)
2- Erica Anabella Farias (Argentina)
3- Maria Elena Maderna (Argentina)
4- Enis Pacheco (Colombia)
5- Mary McGee (USA)

On April 26 in Rio Grande, Argentina, the WBA & WBO light-flyweight champion, Yesica Yolanda “Tuti” Bopp, 110 ¼, elevated in weight and won the WBO flyweight title with a ten-round unanimous decision over Daniela Romina “La Bonita” Bermudez, 112, by the scores (98-92/97-93/97-93). Bopp is now top rated at flyweight and light flyweight.  

Bopp beats Bermudez to become #1 at 112
With the win, Bopp, 30, from Wilde, Argentina, improves to an impressive (27-1, 12 KOs) secured a world title in her second weight division cementing her inclusion in the upper echelon of the women’s boxing pound-for-pound rankings. Bermudez, 24, fighting out of Rosario, Argentina, the current WBO female super-flyweight champion, was competitive but failed in her attempt to win a legitimate world title in her third weight division having previously donned title belts in the bantamweight and light-flyweight divisions. With the loss, Bermudez drops to (16-3-2, 5 KOs) ending an eleven fight winning streak.

KO Digest’s Top 5 Flyweights (112):

1- Yessica Yolanda Bopp (Argentina)
2- Melissa McMorrow (USA)
3- Susi Kentikian (Germany)
4- Ava Knight (USA)
5- Shindo Go (Japan)

Sweet Side Quick Hits from April 2014:

Ibeth Zamora Silva the WBC female light-flyweight champion, improved to (20-5, 8 KOs) with an eight-round unanimous decision over Judith Rodriguez (6-7) in a non-title fight. WBO female lightweight champion, Maria Elena “Tily” Maderna (12-8-3, 1 KO), who sports a 72” reach, successfully defended her title for the first time with a third round technical knockout of contender Dalia Vasarhelyi (7-5, 1 KO). IBF lightweight champion, Victoria Noelia Bustos (11-3), in a non-title fight, lost a six-round unanimous decision to southpaw Natalia Vanesa del Valle Aguirre (6-1-3). It was Aguirre’s second win over Bustos in 11 months. 22-year-old Gabriela “La Gaby” Bouvier (12-4-1, 2 KOs), the IBF female flyweight champion, defended her title for the first time with a ten-round unanimous decision over hard-punching Carolina Alvarez (11-6-2, 8 KOs). Former minimumweight champion Katia Gutierrez (19-4) won a six-round unanimous decision over bright light-flyweight prospect Brenda Flores (7-2). Gutierrez has apparently left the minimumweight division behind as her last two starts have been at light-flyweight and flyweight. Jessica “Kika” Chavez (20-3-3, 4 KOs) in a non-title bout versus former long-time WBA super-flyweight champion, Tenkai Tsunami (20-10, 9 KOs), won a ten-round unanimous decision.

A look ahead to May 2014 in women's boxing:

St John challenges Nelson in Virginia
On May 17 in Annandale, Virginia, on the initial fight card promoted by Ponytail Promotions, Tori “Sho-Nuff” Nelson (8-0-3, 0 KOs) defends her WIBA welterweight title against one of the most recognizable names in women’s boxing, Mia “The Knockout” St. John (47-13-2, 18 KOs). Nelson, of Ashburn, Virginia, formerly the WBC and WIBA female middleweight champion, reduced to welterweight in 2013 winning the WIBA welterweight title in September with a ten-round unanimous decision over Aleksandra Magdziak Lopes. She successfully defended the title in November over Kali Reis (UD-10). Stylistically, Nelson is an awkward mid-range boxer/puncher who looks to counter with the right hand. The 46-year-old St. John of Oxnard, California, a former world champion at lightweight and light-middleweight will fight for a welterweight title for the second time in thirteen months when she enters the ring against Nelson. Universally considered a pioneer in women’s boxing, St. John, in concert with Christy Martin and Laila Ali, carried women’s boxing a decade ago when the niche sport was at its most popular. Although well into the post-prime portion of her career, St. John, based on her seventeen years of ring experience, physical conditioning, and intense crowd appeal brings credibility to any matchup.

Tori Nelson is #2 at 147 and fights St. John this month
KO Digest Top Five Welterweights (147):

1- Cecilia Braekhus (Norway)
2- Tori Nelson (USA)
3- Oxandia Castillo (Dominican Republic)
4- Aleksandra Magdziak Lopes (USA)
5- Ivana Habazin (Croatia)

On May 24 in Chiapas, Mexico, Jackie “La Princesa Azteca” Nava (28-4-3, 12 KOs) of Tijuana, Mexico, enters the ring for the first time in nearly two years (childbirth) when she battles Venezuelan born Alys “La China” Sanchez (12-1-1, 4 KOs) for the interim WBA female super-bantamweight title. The 34-year-old Nava, a two-division champion winning world titles at bantamweight and super-bantamweight, is a three-time WBC super-bantamweight champion and a two-time WBA super-bantamweight title holder. In her last fight, (August 2012) in perhaps her most impressive outing, she stopped Lisa “Bad News” Brown in three rounds successfully defended her WBA female super-bantamweight title. She is probably best known for her two epic battles with Mexican boxing star Ana Maria Torres (D-10) (L-10) in 2011. Nava holds wins over “Downtown” Leona Brown, Kelsey Jeffries, and Yazmin Rivas. The 27-year-old Sanchez is much more than a dip-your-toe-in-the-pool opponent having held the interim WBA female super-bantamweight title as recently as December 2012. With only one fight in the past 18 months, Sanchez will have to work off the rust in training to be competitive against Nava.

Another title belt for Hernandez?
On May 30 at the Accra Sports Stadium, Accra, Ghana, Melissa “HuracanShark” Hernandez (19-5-3, 6 KOs) of Miami Beach, FL, continues her world tour when she battles Helen Joseph (12-2-1, 7 KOs) of Accra, Ghana for the vacant IBF featherweight title. Hernandez is widely considered one of the best featherweights in the world and is also one of the most avoided having fought close to home only twice during her career. During her nine-year career, Hernandez has won major titles in two weight classes, super-bantamweight and featherweight and boasts minor titles at super-featherweight and lightweight. Hernandez has numerous, wins over A-level competition including Lisa Brown, Layla McCarter, and Jelena Mrdjenovich. Known as a dangerous puncher, Joseph has feasted on entry level competition having faced only two fighters of world class caliber battling to a record of (0-2-1) in those bouts. This is the second shot at the IBF featherweight title for Joseph who lost a ten-round unanimous decision to Dahiana Santana in December 2012. In this matchup, Hernandez holds every conceivable edge with the obvious exception of hometown advantage. Joseph, fighting in her hometown of Accra for the third time, has displayed durability lasting the ten-round distance with Dahiana Santana, an above-average puncher at featherweight. The talent disparity is likely too wide for a hometown decision favoring Joseph.

A bloody Mrdjenovich is the best female featherweight
KO Digest Top Five Featherweights (126):

1- Jelena Mrdjenovich (Canada)
2- Melissa Hernandez (USA)
3- Edith Soledad Matthysse (Argentina)
4- Dahiana Santana (Dominican Republic)
5- Elina Tissen (Germany)

Sweet Side Quick Hits for May:

On May 10 Rola El Halabi (13-1, 7 KOs) will battle Victoria Cisneros (11-14-2, 4 KOs) for the vacant WIBA, WBF light-welterweight titles. El Halabi will also defend her WBF female light-welterweight title for the second time. Cisneros holds the WBC Silver female welterweight title which is not involved in this matchup. On May 10 “Defector Girl” Hyun-Mi Choi (8-0-1, 2 KOs) will defend her WBA female super-featherweight title for the first time against Keanpetch Superchamps (5-6-1). Choi won the WBA featherweight title in her professional debut and defended the belt successfully seven times before elevating in weight and winning the WBA super-featherweight title. On May 10 former WBA featherweight champion and current glamour model, Ogleidis “La Nina” Suarez (19-3-1, 8 KOs) will battle Calixta Silgado (11-3-2, 8 KOs) for the interim WBA female super-featherweight title. On May 15 in Brighton Beach, New York, former IBF super-featherweight champion Amanda “The Real Deal” Serrano (20-1-1, 15 KOs) will battle Belinda “Brown Sugar” Laracuente (26-28-3, 9 KOs) in a six-round bout. Serrano, a southpaw, is an elite offensive fighter and always provides a crowd-pleasing performance. On May 23 Nikki Adler (11-0, 6 KOs) will defend the WIBA super-middleweight title against Gifty Amanua Ankrah (3-3-1, 2 KOs). Adler also holds the WBC and WBF super-middleweight titles. On May 25 the WBC female flyweight champion, Shindo Go (13-2, 8 KOs) will defend her title against Kledpetch Lookmuangkan (6-2, 1 KO). It will be the second defense of the WBC flyweight title by Go who won the belt in May 2013.  

Three Questions - Sweet Side Q&A with Shianne Gist:

Three looks and three questions with Shianne Gist
Nestled in the North Eastern corner of the Buckeye State, midway between the boxing-rich city of Youngstown and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, located in an area formerly known as “Steel Valley,” is the city of East Liverpool, Ohio. The Steel Valley once enjoyed booming success during the industrial revolution until the meltdown of the steel industry beginning in the 1970s; the area has failed to recover from the crisis. East Liverpool is best known for being the hometown of former University of Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz and as the city to which bank robber Pretty Boy Floyd was taken for embalming after being killed by police. Shianne Gist, an amateur boxer and Olympic hopeful, hopes to put her hometown on the map in a positive way. Since turning 17, Shianne has trained out of Board’s Boxing located in nearby Stratton, Ohio, under the watchful eye of Coach Joe Board.

Now 21, Gist boasts numerous amateur titles including Golden Gloves in Pennsylvania and Cleveland.

Q: What attracted you to boxing?

A: To be honest I was an instant fan of MMA before I knew anything about boxing. I was young and didn't know any better obviously. Once I started boxing I instantly fell in love with the sport. I wanted to see if I had what it took to become a great fighter. The first time I went to a gym I was 17. It was where I met my coach.
He instantly knew I was a hard worker and wanted to be serious with boxing. So we took it from there.
Four years later I'm 9-4 and still in the gym with my coach training harder than ever.

Q: What are your amateur accomplishments?

A: Since I turned amateur I've been in 13 fights. I'm the 2012 KO Drugs Tournament winner, 2012 Pennsylvania Golden Gloves Winner, 2012 Cleveland Golden Gloves Winner, and 2013 Pennsylvania Golden Gloves Winner. I lost States in a split decision in my fight in Philadelphia. It was a tough lost, but I'm ready to go all the way to Nationals this year.

That's just about the Gist of it
Q: Are you preparing for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games? 
If so, what weight class might you participate in?

A: Yes, I'm getting ready for big tournaments that will guide my way to the 2016 Olympics. My weight class will fall in anywhere from one hundred and forty one pounds to one hundred and fifty.

KO Digest Dynamite Dozen Pound-for-Pound Ratings:

Braekhus still #1 P4P and now her own promoter
1- Cecilia Braekhus 24-0, 7 KOs (Norway)
2- Marcela Eilana Acuna 41-6-1, 18 KOs (Argentina)
3- Christina Hammer 17-0, 8 KOs (Germany)
4- Yesica Yolanda Bopp 27-1, 12 KOs (Argentina)
5- Delfine Persoon 29-1, 13 KOs (Belgium)
6- Diana Prazak 13-2, 9 KOs (Australia/USA)
7- Anne Sophie Mathis 27-3, 23 KOs (France)
8- Erica Anabella Farias 19-1, 9 KOs (Argentina)
9- Jelena Mrdjenovich 32-9-1, 16 KOs (Canada)
10- Ibeth Zamora-Silva 20-5, 8 KOs (Mexico)
11- Jessica Chavez 20-3-3, 4 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 A. Jones - exclusively for KO Digest. You can find more of Mark's work on his women's boxing blog:  Boxing Jones