November 21, 2014

The Sweet Side of the Sweet Science — Women's Boxing Monthly Vol 18

Tragedy strikes our sport in South Africa
By Mark A. Jones — On October 10, aspiring South African light-welterweight professional boxer, Phindile Mwelase entered the ring for the fourth time seeking her first victory against six-fight veteran Liz Butler. However, Mwelase was knocked out by her more experienced foe in the sixth round of a scheduled eight. Tragically, after the bout it was discovered that Mwelase had sustained bleeding on the brain that required emergency surgery; subsequently, she slipped into a coma from which she never recovered. On October 25 at a hospital in Pretoria, South Africa, she died of the injuries that she sustained in the contest, she was 31. Reuters quoted the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, who stated, “She joined a sport that is predominately male, and was proving that women can also succeed in boxing.”

Rest in Peace Mwelase
To date, the death of Mwelase is the second ring-death of a female boxer. The first such tragic happening was in April 2005 when American amateur boxer Becky Zerlentes died of injuries sustained in a knockout loss.

The final boxing record of Phindile Mwelase stands at (0-3-1).

The 2014 Elite Women’s World Boxing Championships will be held from November 16-25 in Jeju, South Korea. This year 337 female athletes from 74 nations will compete in ten weight classes making the eighth edition of the event the largest in the tournament’s history and the first since the 2012 Olympic Games. The inaugural tournament was held in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 2001. Nineteen year old middleweight (165-pound) Olympic Gold Medalist Claressa Shields leads the 10-women USA squad. She is looking forward to avenging her only amateur loss to Savannah “The Silent Assassin” Marshall of Britain in the second-round of the 2012 tournament. Katie Taylor (Ireland) the Gold Medalist at lightweight (132-pounds) weight division at the 2012 Olympic Games will look to win her fifth-in-a-row world title at the games. 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist at flyweight (112-pounds) Nicola Adams will not compete at Jeju due to a shoulder injury.

Team USA Participants:

108- Alex Love (Army)
112- Marlen Esparza (Houston)
119- Christina Cruz (New York City)
125- Tiara Brown (Fort Myers)
132- Queen Underwood (Seattle)
141- Destiny Chearino (Warwick)
152- Danyelle Wolf (San Diego)
165- Claressa Shields (Flint)
178- Heidi Henriksen (St. Louis Park)
178+ Krystal Dixon (New Rochelle)

Looking At Female Heavyweight Boxing:

The heavyweight division in women’s boxing has been unstable since the retirement of Natascha Ragosina (22-0, 13 KOs) in 2009. On November 6 in Broadbeach, Queensland, Australia, Lisa Marie Vizaniari, 269 ¾, of Gold Coast, stopped American southpaw Kathy Rivers, 180, in the tenth round winning the vacant WIBA heavyweight title. Rivers suffered a knockdown from a well-placed right cross, mid-way into the final round. After rising from the canvas on unsteady legs, Rivers was unable to endure the onslaught of heavy punches that were accurately delivered by Vizaniari prompting the referee to cut short the contest just two seconds prior to the final bell. With the win, Vizaniari, 42, not only gave the heavyweight division a needed shot in the arm, but moved her undefeated record to (8-0, 4 KOs) whereas Rivers, 47, in her first bout in 7 ½ years, showed well but dips to (14-6-3, 5 KOs). Hopefully, both fighters stay active in the heavyweight division adding much-needed depth to a weight class in sore need of capable fighters.

In other heavyweight action, on November 8 at the Longshoremen’s Hall in San Francisco, California, Martha Salazar, 235, pounded out a ten-round unanimous decision victory (100-90 x3) over New York’s Tanzee Daniel who scaled 252 pounds for the contest. With the win, Salazar secured the vacant WBC World female heavyweight title. It was the first fight in nearly 19 months for the 44-year-old Salazar (13-4, 3 KOs) who has found it difficult to find opponents in the shallow female heavyweight landscape.

Lamonakis and Ewell are the center of attention
Daniel, 37, drops to (4-4-1, 1 KO) with the loss.

On December 6 in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, in another important heavyweight battle, Sonya Lamonakis (9-1-2, 1 KO) of New York City battles Winston-Salem’s Carlette Ewell (15-7-1, 9 KOs) in an evenly matched ten-round battle for the vacant IBO heavyweight title. The two boxers battled to a six-round, split-draw in New York City in January 2012. Since, Lamonakis has entered the ring five times (3-1-1) whereas Ewell has been inactive.

KO Digest’s Top 5 Heavyweight (168 lbs +)

1- Martha Salazar (USA)
2- Lisa Marie Vizaniari (Australia)
3- Sonya Lamonakis (USA)
4- Carlette Ewell (USA)
5- Kathy Rivers (USA)

Quick Hits for October/November:

Persoon pounds Prazak
In Belguim Delfine Persoon (31-1, 14 KOs) of Roeselare, defended the WBC lightweight title with a ninth round technical knockout over Australian-born, Diana Prazak. At the time of the stoppage, each judge favored Persoon by a wide margin (80-71/80-71/80-72). Prazak, despite the loss, maintains the WBC super-featherweight title. Prazak is a true warrior who in the past two years has faced three elite fighters in Frida Wallberg, Holly Holm, and Persoon.

In Germany Susi Kentikian (34-2, 17 KOs) of Hamburg, defended her WBA World female flyweight title for the fourth time with a ten-round unanimous decision (96-94/97-93/97-94) over Japan’s Naoko Fukioka (12-1, 6 KOs). Fukioka, who previously held world titles at both minimumweight and super-flyweight, was seeking a world title in her third weight class.

In Mexico, Erica Anabella Farias (21-1, 10 KOs) won the WBC World female light-welterweight title with a ten-round, split-decision victory over tough brawler Alejandra Mariana Oliveras (31-3-2, 16 KOs). Two judges preferred Farias 97-94 and 97-93 whereas a third judge ruled in the favor of Oliveras 99-92. With the win, Farias, the former WBC lightweight champion, wins a legitimate world title in a second weight class. Both fighters are of Argentinian descent.

In Mexico two-time bantamweight champion Yazmin Rivas (31-8, 9 KOs) defended her WBC World female bantamweight title for the second time with a ten-round unanimous decision (98-92/98-92/97-93) over Australia’s Susie Ramadan (23-2, 8 KOs).

This bout was a rematch of an October 2011 IBF bantamweight title fight also won by Rivas.

P4P reality TV
In Argentina Yesica Patricia Marcos (25-0-2, 9 KOs) of San Martin, defended her WBA super-bantamweight title with a first round knockout of Mexico’s Estrella Valverde (10-5-2). Marcos is (8-0-1, 4 KOs) in world title fights with the only blemish being a January 2013 ten-round draw with Marcela Eliana Acuna. With another impressive win, Marcos will re-enter the pound-for-pound elite. (§) In Sweden Mikaela Lauren (23-3, 8 KOs) of Stockholm, won the vacant WBC light-middleweight title a razor-thin, majority-decision over former welterweight title challenger Alexsandra Magdziak Lopes (10-3-2, 1 KO) of Marshfield, Massachusetts. Lauren dedicated her title-winning performance to the retired Swedish boxer Frida Wallberg, who she considers being the pioneer of women’s boxing in Sweden.

A Look Ahead To Scheduled Women's Boxing Action:

Chavez or Zamora-Silva?
On November 22 in Mexico City, Ibeth Zamora-Silva (20-5, 8 KOs) of San Cristobal, will make her third defense of the WBC World light-flyweight title when she battles Jessica Chavez (21-3-3, 4 KOs) of Mexico City. Since retaining her WBC Silver light-flyweight title in June 2013 by a narrow unanimous decision victory over Argentina’s Yesica Bopp, Chavez, 23, has dipped her toe into the 112-pound flyweight division. Although posting a (3-0-1) record, she found it difficult to perform to the same level she enjoyed as a light-flyweight. In this fight, Chavez is trimming down to 108-pounds and will look to avenge a six-round decision loss to Zamora-Silva earlier in her career and win a world light-flyweight title for the second time. Zamora-Silva, 25, was overlooked and underappreciated earlier in her career having to fight for the ‘interim’ WBA minimumweight and WBC World light-flyweight titles outside of her home country of Mexico; she posted wins on both occasions. Her coming out party was an October 2013 unanimous decision victory over American Ava Knight, who was widely thought of as a pound-for-pound (P4P) elite fighter at the time. Both Zamora-Silva and Chavez are considered among the P4P best in the sport with Chavez possessing better skills marginally; Zamora-Silva must defy odds yet again to retain her title.

Is Retzke ready for Braekhus?

On November 29 at the Falconer Centeret in Frederiksberg, Denmark, on a Sauerland Promotions card tabbed, “All or Nothing” the “First Lady” of women’s boxing, Cecilia Braekhus (26-0, 7 KOs) places her four world welterweight titles on the line (WBC, WBA, WBO & IBF) when she defends against Berlin, Germany’s Jennifer Retzke (15-1-1, 9 KOs). The 29-year-old Retzke has held minor titles at light-welterweight (GBU) and welterweight (IBO) and in April 2011, knocked out Eva Halasi (TKO-5) to win the IBF light-middleweight title. Braekhus required only three rounds to knockout Halasi in defense of the WBC & WBO World welterweight titles in November of 2010. Retzke is similar in style to Ivana Habazin who Braekhus defeated in September by a wide-margined unanimous decision; the German power puncher is slow and moves in straight lines, but is well conditioned and possesses above average power. Retzke said of her chances against Braekhus, “Cecilia is a great champion but this is my time to shine, “said Retzke. “My training has been going well. I’m in top condition. On November 29, there will be a new undisputed Female World Welterweight Champion. All four belts are coming home with me!''

Braekhus, 33, of Bergen, Norway, will be embarking on her first defense of the unified world welterweight titles by facing the well-decorated Retzke. It will be the fourth start of 2014 for the champion who faced nothing but elite competition as her opponent’s combined 74-8-1 record would indicate. Braekhus said of her stellar 2014 and her upcoming title defense, “I’m in great shape and ready to defend my titles in style, ’’ said Braekhus. To unify the division in my last fight was a dream come true. It’s hard to put into words what that meant to me. There is no way I’m going to let Retzke take these belts away from me. I’ve had a great 2014, and I’m ready to end the year on a high with another victory in Copenhagen.” (§) Braekhus is the consensus current P4P queen of women’s boxing. Her ability to box, pursue, and evade punishment are unmatched in women’s boxing today. Retzke, in any other era, would be considered a formable opponent but will be reduced to a novice amateur unable to lay a serious glove on Braekhus. The champion holds every conceivable advantage in this matchup and will coast to a wide-margined decision victory or late-round stoppage.

On the undercard, bold & beautiful emerging superstar, Klara “The Swedish Princess” Svensson (14-0, 5 KOs) of Malmo, Sweden, will defend her interim WBC World female light-welterweight title against the brash Italian slugger, Lucia Morelli (18-4, 8 KOs). In some pre-fight trash-talk, Morelli stated of Svensson, a statuesque blond, that she looks more like a model than a fighter. The 27-year-old Svensson, who in September dispensed some choice language towards fellow Swede Mikaela Lauren when Lauren criticized her ability, said of Morelli, ”That’s a brave comment, ’’ said Svensson. ‘’My first thought when I saw it: I’m going to remodel her face!” Morelli is aggressive and likely the best fighter Svensson will have faced in her blossoming career, but at the age of 35, what does the challenger have left? Morelli has suffered three stoppage losses; two at the fists of Delfine Persoon and one to French slugger Myriam Lamare. Look for Svensson, who is promoted by Sauerland Promotions, to impress.


KO Digest’s Top 5 light-welterweight (140 lbs.):

1- Erica Anabella Farias (Argentina)
2- Fernanda Soledad Alegre (Argentina)
3- Alejandra Marina Oliveras (Argentina)
4- Ana Laura Esteche (Argentina)
5- Klara Svensson (Sweden)

Quick Hits for November/December:

On November 21 in San Diego, California, 21-year-old emerging star, Kenia Enriquez (12-0, 6 KOs) of Tijuana, will battle veteran slugger Ana Arrazola (21-10-2, 13 KOs) with the vacant WBO World female flyweight title on the line. The title was recently relinquished by Argentine superstar, Yesica Bopp. Arrazola struggles against A-level competition and is (0-4) in major world title bouts. (§) On December 6, Shindo Go (14-2, 9 KOs) will travel from the friendly confines of Osaka, Japan to Monterrey, Mexico, to fight popular Mexican slugger Arely “Machine Gun” Mucino (20-2-2, 10 KOs) in defense of her WBC World female flyweight title. Go has the all-around boxing skills to out duel the considerable firepower of Mucino, but she must win by stoppage; the challenger, Mucino is the hometown fighter in this matchup. (§) On December 6 in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, Jacki Nava (30-4-3, 13 KOs) of Tijuana will defend the WBC World super-bantamweight title and her WBA Super super-bantamweight title when she faces former IBF World female super-bantamweight champion Katy Wilson Castillo (18-1, 11 KOs). This fight will be the third of 2014 for Nava, who returned to the ring in May after a nearly two-year hiatus. Castillo was last in the ring in May 2013, but is tall, rangy, and possesses a big left-hook.

Han wraps in the west Texas town of El Paso
On December 12 in El Paso, Texas, Jennifer Han (11-3-1, 1 KO) of El Paso, looks to become a world title holder for the first time when she battles Nigerian power-puncher, Helen Joseph (12-2-1, 7 KOs). Han is a former amateur standout who is relatively unknown having fought in obscurity, mostly West Texas. In March, Han travel to South Korea to fight for a minor featherweight title and was the victim of one of the worst decisions of 2014 when she lost a ten-round, majority-decision to Ji-Hye Woo (14-2) of Seoul, Korea. Most recently, Han, in her hometown of El Paso, won an eight-round unanimous decision over Christina Ruiz (7-7-3).

KO Digest’s Dynamite Dozen Top 12 P4P: Persoon surges up to #2, Yesica Bopp bumped out with a baby Bopp on the way

Braekhus is the face of women's boxing
1- Cecilia Braekhus 26-0, 7 KOs (Norway)
2- Delfine Persoon 31-1, 14 KOs (Belgium)
3- Marcela Eilana Acuna 42-6-1, 18 KOs (Argentina)
4- Anne Sophie Mathis 27-3, 23 KOs (France)
5- Jackie Nava 30-4-3, 13 KOs (Mexico)
6- Erica Anabella Farias 21-1, 10 KOs (Argentina)
7- Jessica Chavez 21-3-3, 4 KOs (Mexico)
8- Ibeth Zamora-Silva 20-5, 8 KOs (Mexico)
9- Susi Kentikian 34-2, 17 KOs (Germany)
10- Jelena Mrdjenovich 33-9-1, 17 KOs (Canada)
11- Christina Hammer 17-0, 10 KOs (Germany)
12- Diana Prazak 13-3, 9 KOs (Australia/ USA) 

"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