July 22, 2014

The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science - Women's Boxing Monthly Vol 14

Winning Women in Florida
By Mark A Jones – On July 8 through 12 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the 2014 National Women’s Golden Gloves was held with over one hundred female boxers from around the country competing. Many familiar names took top honors in their respective weight classes including Marlen Esparza of Houston, Texas, who was a member of the first ever USA Women’s Olympic Boxing Team at the 2012 Olympic Games, winning a bronze medal. She defeated Maureeca Lambert of Wisconsin by a 3-0 decision to take top honors in the 112-pound weight division.

Danyelle Wolfe, of San Diego, California, who recently appeared in the revealing ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue 2014, received a nod in the 152-pound class with a 3-0 decision over The Army's Fallon Farrar. 

Wolf is a punching pin-up girl

Senior Open (19-40) Champions:
106: Alexandra Love (Army)
112: Marlen Esparza (Houston)
119: Christina Cruz (NYC)
125: Rianna Rios (Alice, TX)
132: Mikaela Mayer (Los Angeles)
141: Meghan Karcher (Tavares, FL)
152: Danyelle Wolf (San Diego)
165: Melissa Kelly (Somerville)

At the National Golden Gloves tournament, on July 10, the first-ever inductions for the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame (IWBHF) was held. The contributions of a fabulous cast of seven inductees were celebrated for their contributions to women’s boxing at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Fort Lauderdale. The event was hosted by Bill Calogero and each inductee was introduced by Malissa Smith, author of the “History of Women’s Boxing.” The IWBHF is the creation of Sue Fox; a former boxer and creator of the website, Women’s Boxing Achieve Network or “WBAN.” Foremost among the inductees is Barbara Buttrick “The Mighty Atom of the Ring” who barnstormed the United States in the 1940s and 50s and is considered the most important pioneer of women’s boxing. She compiled a reported record of (31-1) during her travels often fighting exhibition bouts against men. In the 1990s, she founded the Women’s International Boxing Federation, a major sanctioning body in women’s boxing.

Female Fighting Pioneer
2014 IWBHF Inductees:

1- Barbara Buttrick (boxer)

2- Bonnie Canino (boxer/coach)

3- Christy Martin (boxer)

4- Regina Halmich (boxer)

5- Dr. Christy Halbert (coach/author)

6- Lucia Rijker (boxer)

7- Jo-Ann Hagen (boxer) posthumous

And not to be outdone, The Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame located in Belfast, New York, on July 12 during their induction weekend, held "A Celebration of Women in Boxing.” The list of new inductees included five original female bare-knuckle boxers, and five honorary inductees, all of whom brought a positive light to upstate New York.

 Christy Martin made the IWBHF
Original Bare Knuckle Boxers:

1- Elizabeth Wilkinson (Stokes)
2- Anna Lewis
3- Hattie Stewart
4- Hattie Leslie (Libbie Spann)
5- Alice Leary (Barbara Dillon)

Modern Honorary Inductees:

1- Christy Martin (boxer)
2- Leona Brown (boxer)
3- Gloria Peek (coach)
4- Melvina Lathan (NYSAC Chairperson/judge)
5- Nellie Bly (reporter)

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

On June 21 at the Trend Eventhotel in Pyramide, Vienna, Austria, on a card featuring two female world title bouts as co-main events, hometown favorite Eva Voraberger, 114 ¾, successfully moved up from flyweight to win the two vacant super-flyweight titles (WBF & WIBF) with a hard-fought, ten-round unanimous decision (96-94/97-94/97-93) over Thailand’s Nonggift Onesongchaigym 109 ½. Only a late rally by Voraberger (17-3, 9 KOs), prevented the 18-year-old Onesongchaigym (6-2-1, 1 KO) from returning to Thailand with two minor world titles.

In the co-main event, 37-year-old Oezlem Sahin, 104, won the WIBF, WBF, and GBU minimumweight titles with a sixth round knockout of Thailand’s Buangern Onesongchaigym, 103 ¼. Oezlem (18-0-1, 6 KOs), a Turkish-born German, dominated the action throughout finally ending things in the sixth stanza after scoring two knockdowns. The 21-year-old Onesongchaigym drops to (11-7) and suffers her fourth loss via the knockout route. The only blemish on the record of Oezlem is a four-round draw early in her career with the current WBF & WBC Silver female flyweight champion Raja Amasheh (17-0-1, 4 KOs).

Nelson above all but Braekhus at 147
On June 28 at the Du Burns Arena, in Baltimore, Maryland, in the main event, WIBA welterweight champion Tori Nelson of Ashburn, Virginia, defended her title for the third time with a ten-round unanimous decision (95-94/98-92/98-92) over Nicole Woods of Stone Mountain, Georgia. Woods (11-14-3) proved to be a tough customer displaying more skill than her pedestrian record would otherwise believe she owns. With the win, Nelson improves to (10-0-3, 1 KO) and continues to wait for the call to battle the division’s most decorated fighter, Cecilia Braekhus (25-0, 7 KOs). This fight was the main event.

On the undercard, promising flyweight prospect, Tyrieshia Douglas of Baltimore improved to (5-0, 1 KO) with a six-round unanimous decision victory (60-54/60-54/58-56) over Christina Fuentes (3-6-3). Fuentes battles out of Laredo, Texas.

Douglas, whose brother Antoine is an undefeated middleweight prospect, finished second to Marlen Esparza (112 lbs.) in the first-ever women’s USA Boxing Olympic Trials in 2012.

Kudos to Ponytail Promotions for scheduling female bouts as the main event on their cards.

Braekhus eyes her competition at welterweight
KO Digest’s Top Five Welterweights:

1- Cecilia Braekhus (Norway)
2- Tori Nelson (USA)
3- Oxandia Castillo (Dominican Republic)
4- Jessica Balogun (Germany)
5- Ivana Habazin (Croatia)

On June 28 in Hidalgo, Mexico, Canelo Promotions gave women’s boxing proper respect by placing five bouts, four of them high profile, on a nine-bout card. In the co-main event, Zulina Munoz of Mexico City defended her WBC female super-flyweight title for the sixth time with a six-round TKO over bantamweight contender Renata Domsodi of Budapest, Hungary. Munoz (42-1, 27 KOs) proved to be too strong for the 39-year-old Domsodi (12-5) who was game, but outgunned by a wide margin. The immensely popular Munoz, who holds the title once held by the come backing Ana Maria Torres (28-3-3, 16 KOs), is playing a waiting game in hopes that high profile battles with either Torres or longtime nemesis Mariana Juarez (39-7-3, 16 KOs) soon materialize.

Rivas is a two time bantamweight champion
On the undercard, Yazmin “La Rusita” Rivas, Torreon, Mexico, became a two-time bantamweight champion securing the WBC female version with a dominate ten-round unanimous points win (99-91/98-90/98-90) over former champion Alesia “The Tigress” Graf of Australia. It was the fourth loss in six fights for Graf who earlier in her career held the GBU super-flyweight title for nearly four years. She also briefly held a world title at super-bantamweight. It is the second consecutive win for Rivas since dropping a controversial split-decision to Jessica Gonzalez (5-1) in November 2013. Rivas previously held the IBF female bantamweight title successfully defending the strap four times over two years. Also on the undercard, in a non-title fight, interim WBC female bantamweight champion Jessica Gonzalez of Mexico City, won a ten-round unanimous decision over Yulihan Luna Avila of Gomez Palacio, Mexico. With the win, Gonzalez improves to (5-1) and Avila drops to (10-2, 1 KO) with the loss. Also in action, former pound-for-pound entry Esmeralda Moreno (27-7-1, 9 KOs) continues to struggle to find her groove in her comeback, wins an eight-round unanimous decision over Lorena Mendoza (1-8-1). The 27-year-old Moreno is (2-1-1) since November 2013 after missing a year due to childbirth. Estefani Casillas (1-1) knocked out Lorena Cruz (1-1) in the second round.

On July 7 at Korakuen, Tokyo, Japan, in front of her hometown fans, pound-for-pound elite female banger Naoko Fujioka, 115, defended her WBA female super-flyweight title with a ten-round unanimous decision (97-93 x 3) over former basketball player, Tomoko Kawanishi, 115, of Osaka, Japan. The 38-year-old Fuijoka (12-0, 6 KOs) started the first round slowly adjusting to the challenger’s superior five inch reach advantage. In round two, Fujioka found her rhythm landing quick combinations before sliding out of range avoiding her challenger’s imprecise counters. The 27-year-old Kawanishi (9-2, 4 KOs) eleven years the junior of the champion, displayed a good jab early in the fight, but faded as the fight matured failing to match Fujioka’s lethal arsenal. With the win, Fujioka maintains her status as an elite pound-for-pound competitor in women’s boxing. The #1 contender to Fujioka is an interim champion, “Triple L” Linda Laura Lecca (10-2-1, 3 KOs) of Lima, Peru. Fujioka, formerly the WBC female minimumweight champion, leapfrogged the light-flyweight and flyweight divisions in November 2013 winning her current title with a ten-round unanimous decision over compatriot Naoko Yamaguchi.

Another win for  the best female Super Fly Fujioka
KO Digest’s Top 5 Super Flyweights:

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

KO Digest’s Quick Hits for June/July:

Jennifer Hamann wins her pro debut
Highly ranked super-bantamweight Shelly Vincent moved to (12-0, 1 KO) with a six-round, majority-decision (59-55/58-56/57-57) over Nydia Feliciano (7-6-3). It was Vincent’s second-decision victory over former world title challenger Feliciano. Dahiana Santana (34-6-1, 14 KOs), in her hometown of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, won the interim WBA featherweight title with a ten-round unanimous decision over Colombian import Francia Elena Bravo (16-3-2). Santana dominated the action winning every round on two of the three scorecards. Popular Californian minimumweight Amaris Quintana (8-2-2, 1 KO) won an eight-round unanimous decision (80-71 x3) over Susana Uribe (3-1, 1 KO) winning the NABF minimumweight title. Uribe was knocked down in the first round. Fernanda Soledad Alegre (19-1-1, 9 KO), the WBO female light-welterweight champion, in a non-title bout, won an eight-round unanimous decision over Roxana Beatriz Laborde (8-13-2) by the scores (78-77/79-75/80-74). Alegre, the WBO female lightweight champion since December 2010 has eight successful defenses. One of the most famous fighters in Mexico, Arely Mucino (20-2-2, 10 KOs) won every round on two of the three scorecards in route to one-sided points win over Suri Tapia (7-4, 2 KOs). And finally, Jennifer Hamann, ranked #1 by USA Boxing at 125 lbs., won her pro debut with a four-round decision (40-35/40-35/40-36) over southpaw Ariel Beck. Hamann scored a knockdown in round one and thoroughly dominated the contest with superior boxing skills. With the loss, Beck drops to (3-1). Former four-division world champion and the current featherweight contender Melissa Hernandez, who is Hamann’s favorite boxer, assisted head-trainer Tricia Turton in the corner.

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

Hammer vs Mathis
On July 26 in Dessau, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, two-division world title holder, Christina Hammer (17-0, 8 KOs) attempts to win a world title in a third weight class when she faces the toughest test of her career in French knockout specialist, Anne Sophie Mathis (27-3, 23 KOs) for the vacant WBO light-middleweight title. The 23-year-old Hammer, who simultaneously holds the WBO & WBF middleweight titles and the WBO super-middleweight belt, moved her training camp from Germany to the mountains of Tyrol, Austria, for a few days to engage in high-altitude training with Coach Dimitri Kirnos in preparation for the mega-fight. Hammer told German sporting news site RAN, "Training in more than 1000 feet elevation and excursions into the surrounding mountains all from part of my preparation program. In my last fight, this particularly strenuous training work has always paid on the steep slopes for my fitness and physique. I feel fit and have my weight is already close to the new weight limit.”

Since winning the WBO middleweight title in October 2010, Hammer successfully defended her title against an impressive line of contenders that include former champions Jessica Balogun, Mikaela Lauren, and Maria Lindberg. In May 2013, she elevated to super-middleweight winning the WBO & WBF super-middleweight title against former champion Zita Zatyko.

Can Mathis punch her way past Hammer?
Stylistically, Hammer is similar to the long time male heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko. At 5’ 11” she towers over most opponents relying on a supreme sense of range to keep her opponents at arm’s length where she forces them to lead enabling her to counter from a safe distance. Only Teresa Perozzi and Maria Lindberg were at times able nullify this advantage by successfully getting inside Hammer’s range and engaging her on the inside. In those fights, Hammer made the proper adjustments and cruised to unanimous decision victories.

The 37-year-old Mathis of Varangeville, France, a professional since 1995, has already accomplished what Hammer, with a victory, intends on equaling, and that is winning legitimate world titles in three-weight classes. Mathis, during her legendary career, has secured titles at light-welterweight, welterweight, and light-middleweight. In world title bouts she has scored impressive knockout wins over high-level fighters such as Myriam Lamare, Ana Pascal, and Holly Holm. Of her three losses, two came against pound-for-pound greats Cecilia Braekhus (L-10) and Holly Holm (L-10). In her second professional bout, Mathis was stopped in five rounds by future champ Marischa Sjauw, who was (5-0-1) at the time.

Mathis, because of her nuclear-charged, right-cross is perhaps the premier power puncher in the history of women’s boxing. Mathis has finished 23 of her 30 opponents inside the distance. Stylistically, she is a stalker who backs her opponents to the ropes and unleashes a barrage of punches with emphasis on the right-cross. Hammer said of the Mathis challenge, "I want to set new standards in women's boxing. Mathis is, of course, in this new weight class for me a real size with a huge knockout ratio. I put out the challenge to fight the best. There are enough women who runaway repeatedly in front of me!"

Hammer vs Mathis Preview & Prediction:

Hammer is expected to prevail over Mathis
Power: Mathis
Speed: Hammer
Chin/Durability: Even
Size: Hammer
Accuracy: Hammer
Skills: Even
Conditioning: Hammer
Punch Volume: Hammer
Defense: Hammer
Quality of Opposition: Mathis

Sweet Side Prediction: In the twilight of her career, as demonstrated in the decision losses to Braekhus and Holm, Mathis can be outboxed and is vulnerable to lateral movement. Mathis will always have a puncher’s chance and is crafty enough to force Hammer into exchanges that benefit the power puncher from France. Hammer is younger, bigger, and faster, and if the reduction in weight doesn’t affect the chin of Hammer, she should prevail by decision. It is refreshing to note that two of the best female boxers currently lacing up gloves are fighting each other. Due to the politics of the game, this is rarely the case. 

Koseki is the WBC Atomweight Champion
On August 2 at the Adachi Ward Sogo Sports Center in Tokyo, Japan, Momo Koseki (18-2-1, 5 KOs) looks to defend her WBC female atomweight title for a record-breaking fourteenth time when she battles 42-year-old Muay Thai legend Denise Castle (Onesongchaigym) who sports a professional boxing record of (2-0, 2 KOs). Koseki will look to break the record of Yoko Gushiken, who defended the WBA light-flyweight title thirteen times from 1976-81. Also on the card, Naoko Shibata (12-3, 3 KOs) of Tokyo looks to defend her IBF light-flyweight title for the second time when she faces the WBF light-flyweight title holder, Ana Arrazola (20-9-2, 13 KOs) of Mexico. Arrazola has faced the superior opposition, losing more often than not, but does hold victories over Anahi Torres and Marisol Molina. Against A-level competition, Arrazola is a step behind dropping one-sided decisions to Yesica Yolanda Bopp (twice), Susi Kentikian, and longtime minimumweight champion Ji-Hyun Park.

On August 10 in Cleveland, Ohio, 22-year-old newly crowned WIBA featherweight champion Carla Torres (4-2) defends her title for the first time in her home town when she battles Canadian Natasha Spence (6-2-1, 5 KOs). Torres, in May, won the title by upsetting Ronica Jeffrey (13-1) by a split-decision. The title-winning effort was the first fight for Torres since dropping a split-decision to Ela Nunez 2 1/2 years earlier. After getting off to a 6-0 start to her career, the hard punching Spence is looking to return to her winning ways in Ohio after losing her last two bouts to New Yorkers Melissa St. Vil and Jeffrey.

KO's Editor Update: Torres is now defending her title against Brooklyn, New York’s, Jennifer Santiago (3-0, 2 NCs), who in her last fight, scaled 117 pounds. Santiago hasn't been past six rounds and hasn't defeated a fighter with a winning record.

Torres hopes to climb in the ratings
KO Digest’s Top 5 Featherweights:

1- Jelena Mrdjenovich (Canada)
2- Melissa Hernandez (USA/Puerto Rico)
3- Dahiana Santana (Dominican Republic)
4- Ronica Jeffrey (USA)
5- Edith Soledad Matthysse (Argentina)

On 15 August at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, Nordic Coliseum Boxing is promoting a nine-bout, all-female fight card. Headlining the card is the former WBO female bantamweight champion Kaliesha “Wild Wild” West facing the hard punching bantamweight contender, Dayana “El Diamante” Cordero in an eight-round bout. Fighting out of Moreno Valley, California, West has fought to an impressive record of (16-1-3, 4 KOs) since turning professional in 2006 winning the WBO bantamweight title in her 16th professional fight. She successfully defended the title three times holding off talented foes like Ava Knight and Jessica Villafranca before elevating to super-bantamweight to win a minor world title in October 2012. Since, West, now 26-years-old, has found opportunities few and far between and has not laced up a pair of fight gloves in nearly 22 months. At first glance, the record that Cordero (13-4-1, 9 KOs) of Barranquilla, Colombia, may appear respectable, but upon close inspection, she has been exploited. She does own record of (3-4-1) against opponents with winning records, which, which is eye-raising, but not alarming. However, she is often used as easy prey having been matched in world title bouts against exceptional champions such as super-bantamweight Yesica Marcos (TKO-6), featherweight Alejandra Oliveras (L-10) and most reprehensibly, light-welterweight Monica Acosta (TKO-5). Having turned professional just after her 14th birthday, the now 18-year-old Cordero should still be tooling in an apprenticeship and is in over her head against a fighter with the physical ability of West. Also on the card, two promising lightweight prospects Brenda Gonzales (3-1) will battle Lucia Osegueda (3-0) in a fight scheduled for six rounds. Super-middleweight Annie Mazerolle (2-0) will battle Charmaine “Not So Sweet” Tweet, who is making her professional boxing debut. Super-middleweights are an endangered species in women’s boxing, and both fighters could find themselves highly ranked after just a few fights. Vanessa Bradford (3-0-1), who is an underrated prospect, battles Sherine Thomas (2-3). Other notable fighters appearing on the card are Jacqueline Park (3-1), Maureen “Baby Face” Riordon, and Maricela Cornejo (2-1).

KO Digest’s Quick Hits for July/August:

On July 25, Fernanda Soledad Alegre (19-1-1, 9 KOs) will defend her WBO female light-welterweight title for the ninth time when she faces Dalia Vasarhelyi (9-5, 1 KO) in her home town of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Alegre is an exceptional champion, but Vasarhelyi, an import from Hungary, is only three months removed from a knockout loss to Maria Elena Maderna in a failed attempt at Maderna’s WBO female lightweight title. Vasarhelyi, nicknamed the Black Dahlia will be squashed quickly in this fight. Bright Mexican prospect Kenia Enriquez (11-0, 6 KOs) sees action in San Diego, California, against the ever-tough TBA over ten rounds on July 25. Enriquez is a future star at light-flyweight. Another bright prospect is in action on July 25, this time in Chicago. Light-welterweight Kristin Gearhart (3-0, 1 KO) will take on Ashleigh Curry (5-8-2, 1 KO) in a bout scheduled for four rounds. In a heavyweight contest, Sonya “The Scholar” Lamonakis (9-1-2, 1 KO) battles Carlette “The Truth” Ewell (15-7-1, 9 KOs) for the IBO female heavyweight title in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten. This fight is a rematch of their January 2012 fight that ended in a six-round, split-draw. Since, Lamonakis has matured as a fighter posting a record of (3-1-1) whereas Ewell has been inactive. In a rematch of KO Digest’s 2013 Robbery of the Year, Jennifer Retzke (14-1-1, 9 KOs) of Berlin, Germany, looks to win the vacant IBO female welterweight title by defeating Kenyan speedster Florence Muthoni (11-3-1, 5 KOs). The two highly ranked welterweights met in August 2013, and it appeared that Muthoni did enough to win the IBO title, but the fight was ruled a majority-draw. Muthoni, returns to the scene of the crime: Open-Air BUGA Familiengarten, Eberswalde, Germany, for this battle. None of the judges assigned to their first match are scheduled to score this fight. The appointed judges for the rematch are from Belgium, Italy, and the USA. Muthoni is clearly the better fighter and hopefully gets her just reward.

KO Digest’s Dynamite Dozen Top 12 Pound For Pound Ratings:

Braekhus is still the best female fighter in the world
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- Naoko Fujioka 12-0, 6 KOs (Japan)
11- Ibeth Zamora-Silva 20-5, 8 KOs (Mexico)
12- Jessica Chavez 20-3-3, 4 KOs (Mexico)

"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