June 17, 2014

The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science - Women's Boxing Monthly Vol 13

Heather Hardy catches The Heat in victory
By Mark A. Jones – On June 14, one of the most recognized boxers in New York City, regardless of gender, Brooklyn’s Heather “The Heat” Hardy fought seven action-packed rounds against her most experienced opponent to date, Plattsburgh’s, Jackie “The Force” Trivilino. The fight, originally scheduled for eight rounds was stopped just prior to the start of the eighth when it was determined by the ringside doctor that Hardy was unable to continue due to cuts caused by unintentional headbutts in the second and seventh rounds. Hardy was awarded a controversial split-decision victory and improved her record to (10-0, 2 KOs).

Trivilino, much to the chagrin of her corner and a segment of the crowd, drops to (9-8-3, 1 KO) with the tough luck loss. The bout was tucked neatly away on the undercard of the HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” telecast which featured fellow New Yorker Chris Algieri's stunningly brutal upset of Ruslan Provodnikov. Most notably, this first-flying affair was the first-ever women’s professional fight at the Barclays Center and a much needed shot in the arm for women’s boxing in the US.

Love Conquers All
On Memorial Day, women’s amateur boxing received much needed national exposure when Private First Class Alex Love won a decision over 17-year-old Julie LaDisa, of the Bronx, New York, on a Golden Boy Promotions pro-am card from Fort Bliss, Texas. The card was televised on Fox Sports 1. PFC Love, of Seattle, Washington, is a member of the US Army World Class Athlete Program (WCAP), and competed in the first-ever USA Boxing Olympic Trials for female boxers in 2012. Love is currently ranked #2 in the 106 pound weight class by USA Boxing.

USA Boxing Elite Women’s Rankings (3-5-14): 

106- Elisha Halstead (Philadelphia)
112- Marlen Esparza (Houston)
119- Christina Cruz (NYC)
125- Jennifer Hamann (Seattle)
132- Queen Underwood (Seattle)
141- Destiny Chearino (Warwick)*
152- Danyelle Wolf (San Diego)
165- Franchon Crews (Baltimore)
178- Tiffanie Hearn (Oxnard)
201- Denise Rico (Los Angeles)

* Bertha Aracil (NYC) ranked #1 by USA Boxing, turned professional in May 2014.

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

On May 17 at the Azalea Taisho in Osaka, Japan, 23-year-old southpaw Yuko Kuroki, 104, won the WBC female minimumweight title with a closely contested ten-round unanimous decision (97-93/96-94/96-94) over Mari Ando, 104 ¾. The victory marked the second attempt at a world title for Kuroki (11-4-1, 6 KOs) of Fukuoka, Japan, who in March 2013 dropped a decision to Etsuko Tada in an attempt at the WBA minimumweight title. With the loss, Ando (11-7, 5 KOs) of Kyoto, Japan, relinquishes the WBC title in her first defense. On the undercard, Nao Ikeyama, 102, won the inaugural WBO atomweight title with a ten-round decision over southpaw Jessebelle Pagaduan, 102, by the scores (99-91/99-91/98-92). 44-year-old Ikeyama (14-3-1, 4 KOs) Sakaide, Japan, the former WIBA minimumweight title holder owned a decisive experience edge (101-20 in rounds boxed) on the 29-year-old Pagaduan (6-1, 4 KOs) and holds wins over Kristina Belinszky, Ayaka Miyao, and Masae Akitaya. Going forward, Ikeyama, to retain her title must be maneuvered to avoid serious opposition. In her two previous bouts, she struggled in achieving victories over very ordinary competition.

Ikeyama beats Pagaduan
KO Digest Top 5 Under 105:

1- Ji-Hyun Park (South Korea)
2- Anabel Ortiz (Mexico)
3- Etsuko Tada (Japan)
4- Samson Tor Buamas (Thailand)
5- Ayaka Miyao (Japan)

She is back! On May 24 at the Municipal Auditorium in Tijuana, Mexico, Jackie “La Princesa Azteca” Nava, 122, returned to the ring after a 21-month layoff (childbirth). Nava, of Tijuana, impressed the hometown crowd by becoming a super-bantamweight champion for the fifth time by winning the WBA version with a seventh round knockout of Alys “La China” Sánchez, 122. It was the first knockout loss for the 27-year-old Sánchez (12-2-1, 4 KOs) of Maracay, Venezuela, who in 2012, held the WBA super-bantamweight title on an interim basis. Whatever rust the 34-year-old Nava (29-4-3, 13 KOs) failed to work off in training, was knocked off in the first round when she tasted the canvas after absorbing a clubbing right cross from Sánchez. The flash knockdown did more to awaken a sleeping giant then did it lend confidence to the fighter that scored the blow. After the knockdown, Nava relentlessly and with bad intentions, pursued her outgunned opponent with a two-fisted attack landing often to the body and head. Nava, successful in cutting down the ring, forced Sánchez into enough exchanges that she scored two knockdowns with the right hand in the fourth. She was pulverizing Sánchez so badly in the fourth stanza that the tough Venezuelan was out on her feet as the bell echoed the end of the round. Sánchez hit the deck twice more in the sixth, although the assigned referee generously nullified the first knockdown by ruling it a slip. In the seventh, a Nava combination opened a cut on the left eyelid of Sanchez, who immediately took a knee causing a referee stoppage, and a knockout win for Nava. With the win, Nava looks to have regained the form that allowed her to compete on an almost even basis in two epic battles with Mexican boxing great Ana Maria Torres (D-10, L-10). Her return makes for some exciting matchmaking possibilities at super-bantamweight against the elite of the division.

Acuna is #1 at 122
KO Digest Top 5 Super-Bantamweights (122):

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

On May 31 in Krefeld, Germany, Susi “Killer Queen” Kentikian, 112, of Hamburg, Germany, returned to top form by defeating a tough challenger in Dan-Bi Kim, 111, retaining her WBA female flyweight title with a ninth round technical knockout. It was the third defense of the WBA flyweight title by Kentikian, who improves to (33-2, 17 KOs) and her first knockout victory since 2008. Kim (9-3-1, 2 KOs) of Anseong City, South Korea, who as recently as March 2014 challenged for a minor minimumweight title, entered the battle with notable wins at the smaller weight class, but proved to be too small to withstand the firepower of a championship caliber flyweight. Upon the retirement of Regina Halmich in 2007, Kentikian assumed the mantle of Germany’s most recognized female boxer. Kentikian, over the subsequent five years, carried the weight of female boxing in Germany successfully defending the WBA flyweight title 14 times. Since her losses to Americans Melissa McMorrow and Carina Moreno in 2012, the torch has been passed to middleweight Christina Hammer. The possible matchups for Kentikian are endless at flyweight; that is perhaps the most talented weight class in women’s boxing.

The Killer Queen beats Kim to stay #1 at flyweight
KO Digest’s Top 5 Flyweights (112):

1- Susi Kentikian (Germany)
2- Ava Knight (USA)
3- Shindo Go (Japan)
4- Arely Mucino (Mexico)
5- Raja Amasheh (Germany)

On June 7, at the Sport and Congress Center, in Schwerin, Germany, the #1 pound-for-pound fighter in women’s boxing Cecilia Braekhus, 140 ¾, successfully defended her WBC, WBO, & WBA female world welterweight title with a ten-round unanimous decision (98-92/100-90/99-91) over Jessica Balogun, 145 1/4. Said Braekhus, “It was a tough fight, but I expected that. Jessica is one of the toughest fighters around.” With her promotional problems sorted out, Braekhus (25-0, 7 KOs) and German coach Otto Ramin, since her last outing in February, worked on improvements in training. “All in all I was pleased with my performance. We had been working on some new things in the gym, improving my footwork and movement, and I think that showed tonight.” Going forward, Braekhus has shown interest in the IBF welterweight title currently held by Ivana Habazin (13-1, 5 KOs) of Croatia. “I would like to fight for the IBF belt next. I already hold the WBC, WBA, & WBO titles, and now I want to unify the division and become the first female fighter to hold all four belts,” said Braekhus. She has also expressed interest in moving up or down in weight to cement her legacy as the pound-for-pound queen of women’s boxing. Braekhus has options; the light-welterweight division is loaded with talented fighters and super-middleweight & middleweight champion Christina Hammer (17-0, 8 KOs) is the most notable opponent above welterweight. Said promoter Nisse Sauerland, “There are still many options available to Cecilia and we will be sitting down in the coming weeks to discuss what’s next.”

Braekhus reviews her options
KO Digest’s Top 5 Most Probable Opponents for Cecilia Braekhus:

1- Ivana Habazin (Croatia)
2- Alejandra Marina Oliveras (Argentina)
3- Fernanda Soledad Alegre (Argentina)
4- Christina Hammer (Germany)
5- Tori Nelson (USA)

Quick Hits for May & June:

IBF female super flyweight champion, Debora Anahi “La Gurisa” Dionicius (17-0, 5 KOs) from the women’s boxing hotbed of Argentina, in a non-title bout, displayed her superior tactical boxing skills by out dueling Alejandra Maria del Lujan Rios (6-6-2) winning an eight-round unanimous decision. Sindy Amador (12-1, 1 KO) of Riverside, California, retained her IFBA light flyweight title with a ten-round, split-decision over Maria Suarez (8-1-1). Suarez showed well in her first excursion past the six-round limit. WIBA welterweight champion Tori “Shu-Nuff” Nelson (9-0-3, 1 KO) of Ashburn, Virginia, successfully defended her title for the second time with a second-round technical knockout of women’s boxing pioneer, Mia St. John (47-14-2, 18 KOs). Nelson landed a counter right-cross forcing the 46-year-old St. John into a corner, and after a barrage of punches, the assigned referee mercifully stopped the contest saving St. John from further punishment. Perhaps the most underrated fighter in women’s boxing, Shindo Go (14-2, 9 KOs) of Wakayama, Japan, defended her WBC flyweight title with an eight-round technical knockout of Thailand’s Kledpetch Lookmuangkan (6-3, 1 KO). 46-year-old Alicia “Slick” Ashley (21-9-1, 3 KOs) of Westbury, New York, is women’s boxing version of Bernard Hopkins, earned a sixth-round knocked out of Nohime Dennisson (5-4-2) in a non-title match. Ashley holds the WBC female super bantamweight title having defended the title successfully three times. Carla Torres (4-2) of Cleveland, Ohio, pulled an upset winning a ten-round split decision over Brooklyn’s Ronica Jeffrey (13-1, 1 KO). With the win, Torres secures the WIBA featherweight title. Super bantamweight contender and fan favorite, Shelly “Shelito’s Way” Vincent, 122 ¾, of Providence, Rhode Island, took it to Philadelphia’s Lakeysha “The Total Package” Williams, 122 ½, winning a six-round unanimous decision (59-55/60-54/60-54). For the highly ranked Vincent, she gains six rounds of ring experience that may lend her well in future high profile bouts.

The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science State of the Game:

Is it any wonder why Juarez is so popular?
Best Boxer: Cecilia Braekhus
Best Slugger: Delfine Persoon
Best Puncher: Diana Prazak
Best Southpaw: Alicia Ashley
Best Counter-Puncher: Marcela Eliana Acuna
Best Body Puncher: Yesica Patricia Marcos
Best Defense: Alicia Ashley
Best Chin: Cecilia Braekhus
Best Jab: Christina Hammer
Best Cross: Diana Prazak
Best Left-Hook: Jelena Mrdjenovich
Most Popular: Mariana Juarez
Most Fun to Watch: Zulina Munoz
Most Avoided: Jelena Mrdjenovich/Melissa Hernandez
Most Protected: Maureen Shea
Deserves a Title Shot: Jessica Nery Plata
On the Rise: Kenia Enriquez
On the Decline: Janeth Perez
Underrated: Shindo Go
Overrated: Ji-Hye Woo
Dirtiest (fouls): Alejandra Marina Oliveras

A Look Ahead To Women's Boxing in June & July 2014:

Women's boxing in Mexico 
On 28 June in Epazoyucan, Hidalgo, Mexico, Canelo Promotions, on a four-bout boxing card labeled “Breed Champions,” three female world title bouts are scheduled with one assigned as the co-main event. On the undercard, two former world champions square off as Yazmin “La Rusita” Rivas (29-8, 9 KOs) of Torreon, Mexico, battles Alesia “The Tigress” Graf (26-4, 11 KOs) of New South Wales, Australia, for the vacant WBC female bantamweight title. Graf enjoyed a 4 ½ year reign as the GBU super-flyweight champion besting such high-level fighters as Zulina Munoz, Esmeralda Moreno, and Hagar Shmoulefeld Finer during that run. Since losing her title to Ana Maria Torres in 2010, she had seen better days splitting her last four fights suffering cuts in two of them. Rivas, a former world champion in three divisions attempts to regain a version bantamweight title in this fight. Rivas held the IBF bantamweight title from 2011-13. The 26-year-old Rivas is streaking winning eight of her last nine matches with the only blemish a controversial split-decision loss to Jessica Gonzalez. Graf holds a 3” height advantage, but is likely too far into the post-prime portion of her career to get past a fighter with the skills of Rivas. In a battle for the interim WBC female bantamweight title, Jessica “Magnificent” Gonzalez (4-1) of Mexico City, Mexico, will face rising star “La Cobrita” Yulihan Luna Avila (10-1, 1 KO) of Gomez Palacio, Mexico. It is likely much too soon for the 20-year-old Avila, who has yet to achieve a significant win, to endure the grueling 10-round distance against a championship level fighter. Of her ten wins, four have come via split decision. Gonzalez won the interim WBC female bantamweight title in November 2013 with a ten-round, split-decision victory over Yazmin Rivas. She also holds a split-decision victory over former WBA female bantamweight champion Irma Garcia.  

In the co-main event, one of the most exciting fighters in women’s boxing Zulina “La Loba” Munoz (41-1-2, 26 KOs) of Mexico City, Mexico, defends the WBC female super-flyweight title for the sixth time against Renata Domsodi (12-4, 5 KOs) of Budapest, Hungary. The 35-year-old Domsodi, who holds three minor titles at bantamweight, is target practice for Munoz. The challenger was dispatched inside the distance by Ramona Kuehne (twice) and Ina Menzer in world title fights at super-featherweight and featherweight respectively. Neither Kuehne nor Menzer owns the offensive arsenal of Munoz, who at the age of 26, is rounding into her prime. Munoz explained, “I prepared very hard with my coaches and Lazarus Mauro Ayala at the Olympic gym because my goal is to become the best world champion in Mexico today.”

Fujioka #1 at Super Fly
KO Digest Top 5 Super-Flyweights:

1- Naoka Fujioka (Japan)
2- Mariana Juarez (Mexico)
3- Zulina Munoz (Mexico)
4- Melissa McMorrow (USA)
5- Debora Anahi Dionicius (Argentina)

On June 28 at der Burns Arena in Baltimore, Maryland, Tori Nelson (9-0-3, 1 KO) will defend the WIBA welterweight title against challenger Nicole Woods (11-13-3, 3 KOs). The underwhelming record of the challenger is deceiving as it was amassed by receiving the short end of decisions in the hometowns of her opponents. However, Woods, a rangy boxer-puncher from Stone Mountain, Georgia, owns an impressive decision victory over the current WBO lightweight champion, Maria Elana Maderna (13-8-3, 2 KOs). In November, Woods battled highly ranked welterweight Aleksandra Magdziak Lopes (10-2-2, 1 KO) to a six-round majority draw. Nelson of Ashburn, Virginia, will engage Woods just six weeks removed from scoring a knockout victory over women’s boxing pioneer Mia St. John (TKO-2). Stylistically an aggressive counter-puncher, Nelson will look to land the counter right-cross on Woods as she was successful in doing against St. John. Cecilia Braekhus (25-0, 7 KOs) is the most decorated welterweight currently campaigning in women’s boxing holding the WBA, WBC, & WBO world titles. Her most serious threat to the supremacy of the welterweight division is Nelson, who will look to stay busy and in top form against Woods until the call to battle the division’s best inevitably comes.

Can Kawanishi upset Fujioka?
On July 7 at Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan, Naoko Fujioka (11-0, 6 KOs) in her home town defends the WBA female super-flyweight title for the first time against Tomoko Kawanishi (9-1, 4 KOs) of Osaka, Japan. Fujioka, the former WBC female minimumweight champion, at 5’2” is an undersized super-flyweight, but carries serious firepower in both fists as she demonstrated in her title-winning performance in November 2013 against Naoko Yamaguchi (UD-10). Kawanishi, who sports a minor regional title, in 2012, lasted the distance against the heavy-handed Riyo Togo losing a closely contested unanimous decision. Kawanishi, who at 5’7 ½, “owns a 5 ½” height advantage on the champion, has displayed durability, but to wrestle the title from Fujioka, one of the pound-for-pound best in women’s boxing, she will need to employ skills that she does not possess. Look for Fujioka to retain the title setting up intriguing matchup possibilities in the loaded super-flyweight division.

Sweet Side Quick Hits for June & July 2014:

One of the most popular female fighters in Europe, Eva “The Golden Baby” Voraberger (17-3, 9 KOs) will face Nonggift OnesongchaiGym (6-1-1, 1 KO) of Thailand, for the vacant WIBF & WBF female super flyweight titles in her hometown of Vienna, Austria. Voraberger, at the age of 24, is improving with each outing and maintains the WIBF & WBF female flyweight titles. Rising Japanese female boxer “Miss Charm” Tomomi Takano, a well-known model in Japan competing in the “Miss Earth” and other elite modeling competitions, embarks on her sixth professional match in June battling ring veteran Kai Johnson (4-5-3, 1 KO). The 26-year-old Takano, a towering super flyweight at 5’ 10," has pummeled entry level competition during the introductory phase of her career exploding to an impressive (5-0, 4 KOs) will face her stiffest competition in Johnson. Both fighters hail from Tokyo, Japan. Takano, who is growing fundamentally as a fighter, is extremely popular and is a star in the making. Amaris “Diamond Girl” Quintana (7-2-2, 1 KO), one of the most popular female fighters in the Southwest, battles Susana Uribe (3-0, 1 KO) for the NABF female minimumweight title. The 24-year-old Quintana will drop from light-flyweight in hopes to secure her first title. Flyweight Tyrieshia “Lady Tiga” Douglas (3-0, 1 KO) of Baltimore, is perhaps one of the most talented young fighters in the United States, is battling the ever-tough TBA in her home town in late June. Douglas competed in the first-ever USA Boxing Olympic Trials for female boxers in 2012 finishing in second place to Marlen Esparza of Houston.
Braekhus continues her run at the top
The KO Digest Dynamite Dozen Top 12 Pound-for-Pound Women's Ratings:

1- Cecilia Braekhus 25-0, 7 KOs (Norway)
2- Marcela Eilana Acuna 41-6-1, 18 KOs (Argentina)
3- Christina Hammer 17-0, 8 KOs (Germany)
4- Yesica Yoland Bopp 27-1, 12 KOs (Argentina)
5- Delfine Persoon 29-1, 13 KOs (Belgium)
6- Diana Prazak 13-2, 9 KOs (Australia/USA)
7- Jackie Nava 29-4-3, 13 KOs (Mexico)
8- 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 quality work on his women's boxing blog:  Boxing Jones