October 21, 2014

The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science — Women's Boxing Monthly Vol 17

A Who's Who of Women's Boxing
By Mark A. Jones  — In September, a milestone in women’s boxing was established when the first-ever WBC Female Boxing Convention was held in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico. The convention was formed with the dual purpose of paying tribute to late WBC President, Jose Sulaiman and to establish the worldwide legitimacy of women’s boxing. In attendance there was the President of the WBA (Gilberto Mendoza), the IBF (Daryl Peoples), and the WBC (Mauricio Sulaiman). Elite promoters Oscar De La Hoya and Don King were in attendance.

King acknowledged the efforts of the late Jose Sulaiman in raising the recognition level of women’s boxing and his own placement of Christy Martin (Salters) on his PPV television cards beginning in 1992. De La Hoya stated on the WBC website, "I truly feel that the majority of the women fight better than the men, and give us more action, so it's very important for me to be here, because I am here to support Women's Boxing." A tribute to Giselle “Magic” Salandy (16-0, 6 KOs) was conducted by recently deposed WBC super-featherweight champion, Alicia Ashley and Trinidad and Tobago boxing promoter Boxu Potts. Salandy turned professional just one month after her thirteenth birthday. She won her first minor title at the age of fifteen and the vacant WBC & WBA female light-middleweight titles at the age of 19. In December 2008, she was tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident at the age of 21. The event was attended by an impressive list of past and present WBC champions from around the globe including Mia St. John (USA), Klara Svensson (Sweden), Jelena Mrdjenovich (Canada), and Carolina Raquel Duer (Argentina).

Police Athletic League
A who’s who of Mexican women’s boxing superstars appeared at the convention including Laura Serrano, Ana Maria Torres, Jackie Nava, Ibeth Zamora-Silva, Zulina Munoz, Mariana Juarez and many others.  

On September 28 through October 5, the 40th annual National PAL Championships were held in Oxnard, California. Melissa Parker (Army) who normally campaigns at #125 dropped to #119 for this tournament and upended favorite Christina Cruz (NYC) in the semifinals. Parker defeated Amanda Pavone (Burlington, MA.) in the 125 pound open finals. Franchon Crews (Baltimore) continued her march to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games by stopping Danielle Mitchell (North Hollywood) in the second round of the open finals in the 165 pound division.

Camacho wins for USA
Winners as follows:

#106 Giovanna Camacho (ARMY)
#112 Marlen Esparza (Houston)
#119 Melissa Parker (ARMY)
#125 Rianna Rios (ARMY)
#132 Alycia Baumgardner (Fremont, OH.)
#141 Mikayla Mayer (Los Angeles)
#165 Franchon Crews (Baltimore)

On September 20 in Osaka, Japan, Kumiko Seeser Ikehara, 105, won the vacant WBO World female minimumweight title with a ten-round split-decision victory over former WIBA minimumweight champion, Gretchen Abaniel, 102, who traveled from Puerto Princesa City, Philippines, to battle for the title. Ikehara, 29, of Kyoto, Japan, was supported by the Philippines judge 98-92 and the judge from Taiwan 97-93. The lone Japanese judge oddly favored Abaniel 96-94. Both fighters let the leather fly early with Ikehara, slightly bigger and more aggressive, landed better than she received throughout the ten-round bout. Ikehara, with just 27 months of professional experience, owned most of the measurable skills in this fight, but the 28-year-old Abaniel’s eight years of experience allowed her to stay competitive. In the end, Ikehara, in her first title fight, won a major belt and is now a significant player in the up-and-coming women’s boxing power that is Japan.

Yuko Kuroki
KO Digest’s Top 5 at minimumweight (105 lbs.):

1- Anabel Ortiz (Mexico) (WBA)
2- Victoria Argueta (Mexico) (IBF)
3- Yuko Kuroki (Japan) (WBC)
4- Etsuko Tada (Japan)
5- Oezlem Sahin (Germany)

Quick Hits for September/October:

Zulina Munoz, 116 ½, the WBC World female super-flyweight champion, in a non-title fight, tested the waters at bantamweight winning a ten-round unanimous decision over Karina Hernandez, 116 ½. With the win, Munoz improves to (43-1-2, 27 KOs) whereas Hernandez suffers her first loss and now stands at (5-1-3). WBC World female lightweight champion, Delfine Persoon (30-1, 13 KOs), in a non-title fight, won an eight-round unanimous decision over Judy Waguthii (13-7-3, 4 KOs) winning every round in the process. For Persoon, who faces a stiff challenge from Diana Prazak (13-2, 9 KOs) in November, this fight was merely a tune-up. 45-year-old Nao Ikeyama, 101 ¾, defended her WBO female atomweight title (102 lbs.) for the first time with a ten-round unanimous decision over Masae Akitaya, 101 ½. With the win, Ikeyama moves to (15-3-1, 4 KOs) knocking down Akitaya (9-5-2) in the second round. Nikki Adler, 163 ¾, who maintains the WBC, WBU, and WIBA titles at super-middleweight, in a non-title match, knocked out Rita Kenessey (KO-4) who scaled 165 ¼ for the bout. Adler improves to (13-0, 8 KOs), and Kenessey witnesses her record drop to (4-10). Flyweight prospect Noemi Bosques, 115, won an easy six-round decision (59-55/59-55/58-56) over Ivana Coleman, 118 ½. The victory is impressive in that Coleman (1-6) normally fights in the super-bantamweight division. Bosques improves to (7-1-2, 2 KOs).

Featured Fights for October/November:

On October 25 in Gomez Palacio, Mexico, in a highly anticipated rematch, two-time bantamweight champion, Yazmin Rivas (30-8, 9 KOs) of Torreon, Mexico, will defend her WBC World female bantamweight title against hard-charging Australian, Susie Ramadan (23-1, 8 KOs). Rivas, earlier in her career held the IBF World female bantamweight title for two years defending the strap successfully five times. This fight is a rematch of an October 2011 battle in Mexico that witnessed Rivas win the vacant IBF bantamweight title with a controversial ten-round split-decision victory. The two fighters differ stylistically; Ramadan, 35, is an ultra-aggressive banger with underrated movement and boxing skills whereas Rivas, 26, is entering the prime stage of her career and has developed into and an excellent counter-puncher especially with the left-hook. The bout is likely to be decided on the cards. Rivas has yet to stop an A-level opponent over 120 pounds.

On November 1 in Fukuoka, Japan, southpaw Yuko Kuroki (11-4-1, 6 KOs) in front of a hometown crowd, will defend her WBC World female minimumweight title for the first time against the former IBF World female minimumweight champion, Katia Gutierrez (19-4, 4 KOs) of Los Mochis, Mexico. Kuroki, 23, won the title in May defeating Mari Ando (11-7) by a close ten-round unanimous decision. She will be hard pressed to retain the title in her hometown as her opponent, Gutierrez, 25, has faced superior competition and successfully defended the IBF minimumweight title four times before moving up in weight.

Can Persoon withstand the firepower of Prazak?
On November 11 in Zwevezele, Belguim, two of the best punchers in women’s boxing will battle when Delfine Persoon (30-1, 13 KOs) of Roeselare, Belguim, defends her WBC lightweight title against nuclear-fisted Diana Prazak (13-2, 9 KOs) of Los Angeles, California, by way of Melbourne, Australia. Prazak is the current WBC super-featherweight champion; her title is not on the line in this contest. Normally, when boxers change trainers, the new hire can only tweak certain aspects of a fighter’s game and not complete, or even embark on an extensive makeover. When the 35-year-old Prazak began working with women’s boxing legend Lucia Rijker, she was a one-dimensional banger with superior power in her right hand. Since, she has developed lateral movement, defense, and has greatly improved her lead (left) hand. Her body attack and left hook, also the dominate punch of her trainer (Rijker) during her boxing career; setup the knockout of Frida Wallberg (KO-8) in June 2012. Only in a fighter that places absolute trust in a trainer, do you witness such a dramatic makeover.

Prazak is a notoriously slow starter relying on endurance and late-round punching power to overwhelm opponents; the latter trait, Prazak’s late-round punching power, is matched by very few in women’s boxing. The 29-year-old Persoon is in the prime stage of her career, adding a win over Prazak will cement her place in the upper echelon of the current pound-for-pound best in women’s boxing. Persoon is greater than the sum of her parts. Her footwork is poor; she consistently squares her stance when combination punching and her defense is leaky at best resulting in her absorbing flush punches. That said, as she proved in her April WBC title-winning over performance over an elite puncher in Erica Anabella Farias (UD-10), her chin is made of granite. Persoon is a forward-moving volume puncher, mostly to the head, with a good right hand and superior ring generalship.

Persoon is expected to prevail
The styles of the two fighters make for an excellent match-up. Prazak, the decided underdog in this fight, and will try to sit on the inside and wear down Persoon, who needs room to punch and has virtually no experience facing a respectable infighter. Persoon will come forward early and often in an attempt to out volume Prazak and bully her around the ring with her superior size. If the fight goes to the judges’ cards, Persoon had a decided advantage due to the venue location (Belguim); Prazak will try to end things in the later rounds rendering the scorecards moot. 

Prediction: Persoon UD-10

On November 15 in Cancun, Mexico, Erica Anabella Farias (20-1, 10 KOs) of Virreyes, Buenos Aires, Argentina, bids adieu to the lightweight division and will challenge WBC World female light-welterweight champion, Alejandra Marina Oliveras (31-2-2, 16 KOs) for her title in a bout slated for ten rounds. Oliveras, 36, a genuine four-division champion, is nicknamed “Locomotora” which is appropriately applied as it accurately describes her one-punch knockout power. Oliveras owns several impressive victories at the lighter weights, but has been less impressive over 130 pounds. At only 5’ 1” Oliveras is seriously outsized against Farias, 30, who is a perfectly suited for the light-welterweight division. Farias, who defended her WBC lightweight title successfully eleven times before losing it to Delfine Persoon, also possess excellent power, especially in her right hand and can box from range when required. She is the most multi-talented fighter in this match-up and will strap on her first world title belt at light-welterweight.

Quick Hits for October/November:

Southpaw Zita Zatyko (15-1-1, 11 KOs) will enter the ring for the first time since losing to Christina Hammer nearly 17 months ago when she battles Szilvia Szabados (5-0, 2 KOs) for the vacant WBF female super-middleweight title. Szabados has yet to fight past six rounds, and Zatyko typically dominates suspect competition. The fight will define Szabados as a pretender or a contender. Yesica Patricia Marcos (24-0-2, 8 KOs) will defend her WBA World female super-bantamweight title against Estrella Valverde (10-4-2, 1 KO). Valverde is solid, but unspectacular and falls short against elite competition. Marcos, whose January 2013 fight with Marcela Eliana Acuna drew more than 40,000 needs to step up the competition. The ever-popular Shelly Vincent (12-0, 1 KO) will battle Jackie Trivilino (9-8-3, 1 KO) for the vacant UBF female super-bantamweight title over ten rounds. Vincent is versatile having the ability to fight at close-quarters or on the outside. Trivilino is better than her record would indicate having been on the short end of several close decisions. Eva Voraberger (18-3, 9 KOs) will defend her WIBF and WBF super flyweight titles against Renata Domsodi (12-5, 5 KOs) in Voraberger’s hometown of Vienna, Austria. Voraberger is immensely popular, but suspect as a champion having defeated only one fighter with a winning record. A win over Domsodi will not corroborate her legitimacy as a champion; only fighting the elite of the super-flyweight division will solidify her standing. Mikaela Lauren (22-3, 8 KOs) will fight for the vacant WBC World female light-middleweight title against Aleksandra Magdziak Lopes (10-2-2, 1 KO) in Lauren’s home country of Sweden. Lauren could become a rock star in Europe with the title. Lopes owns the boxing ability to spoil those plans.

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

Month after month, Braekhus is the best in the business
1- Cecilia Braekhus 26-0, 7 KOs (Norway)
2- Marcela Eilana Acuna 42-6-1, 18 KOs (Argentina)
3- Anne Sophie Mathis 27-3, 23 KOs (France)
4- Yesica Yoland Bopp 27-1, 12 KOs (Argentina)
5- Delfine Persoon 30-1, 13 KOs (Belgium)
6- Diana Prazak 13-2, 9 KOs (Australia/USA)
7- Jackie Nava 30-4-3, 13 KOs (Mexico)
8- Erica Anabella Farias 20-1, 10 KOs (Argentina)
9- Jelena Mrdjenovich 33-9-1, 17 KOs (Canada)
10- Christina Hammer 17-0, 8 KOs (Germany)
11- Naoko Fujioka 12-0, 6 KOs (Japan)
12- Ibeth Zamora-Silva 20-5, 8 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 female fight coverage on his women's boxing blog:  Boxing Jones