If four-time world champion Kaliesha “Wild Wild” West is anything, it is brash and outspoken. She is also a veteran of over 100 amateur fights and 21 professional ones with a record of 16-2-3, 4 KOs.
West has fought the best in her division in an eight year professional career including Ava Knight, Ada Velez and Anita Chistensen among others while capturing the WBO bantamweight title and the IFBA super bantamweight title.
After taking a self-imposed hiatus of a little over two years, she told the all-female boxing podcast The 2-Min Round and its hosts David Avila, Elena “Baby Doll” Reid and Felipe Leon recently she is ready to make one final run at the sport while going after some meaningful goals along the way.
“I am positive for the future than I can say for myself. I am a little bitter, actually, I am very bitter about how it is for myself. Like when I am going to press conference and I am being pushed back, (and asked) where are your credentials, how are you here?,” West explains her current mood about the sport. “Here I am, a four-time, two division world champion. That hurts. Here is a Joe Shmuck who has been a photographer for two months with a pretty face that walks right in because they have a piece of paper that says they write for so-and-so magazine. Here you have a world champion who has devoted 18 years of their life, more than half of their life, into this sport and knows way more than this photographer and they are having a hard time walking into the Shawn Porter press conference. I am bitter about it, I am very bitter about it, when it comes to me and what I have done, what my team has done, what my dad (also her trainer) has done for me. The only bitterness I can admit to have is the respect. It lacks respect. I don’t want to be a sideshow, I don’t want to be a model, I don’t want to be an actress, I don’t want to be a pretty girl, I want to be well-known as a strategic great fighter who knows how to properly throw a one-two hook. I want to be known for that. I want to be known as fighter who knows their science, their craft and who is good at it. That is the only bitterness that goes on, I have accepted it. I don’t hold grudges. I see opportunity for the future, for the girls which is forever growing and that is why I keep my chin up for the sport of boxing.”
Despite her current feelings, West not only sees a bright future for the sport but also for herself with a new found dedication to her craft as well as a new goal for the remainder of her career.
“I will be going gung ho into being televised in the United States for my final fights. I’ve had over 100 amateurs, I have traveled the world and won world titles. There is only so much you can do, there are only so many miles you can put on your engine and I just want to make sure one of my main goals in my career is to finish and be able to display my craft on a major television network in the United States. That is something everyone should look forward to. I believe and if they believe and the fans believe it, then it will happen.”
West began boxing at an early age under the instruction of her father and trainer Juan West, a former fighter himself. At the age of 18 in 2006 West went pro and steadily built a still growing fan base while amassing impressive wins. She also went out of her comfort zone and traveled to different parts of the world to gain the experience needed to call herself a world champion.
“I’ve had a pretty good run with boxing internationally with different styles and the different girls, against a Brazilian, a European then a Mexican and what not,” she stated. “I can tell you each country has their unique style. It was very interesting and I am very thankful, it was very humbling.”
It was believed her big break, and to a certain extent that of women’s boxing up to that point, was her inclusion of a major fight card in September of 2010 when West battled Angel Gladney for the vacant WBO bantamweight title on the undercard of Shane Mosley vs Sergio Mora at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. The card was promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and also included Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s knockout of former champion Carlos Baldomir.
“When I was on the Golden Boy card, there was not Ronda Rousey, there was not major breakthrough, there was none of that and as a matter of fact, when I was on that card, I was the one promoting myself, my team was promoting me. I had a spot on the card but that was about it. Did you see my fight on TV? No, it was not televised. It was supposed to be a major breakthrough but I did my job. I showed up for interviews, I made my weight and I knocked her out. I did what I was supposed to do. They didn’t do what they had to do. They didn’t televise it. I didn’t even get a televised interview and I was the only world title (fight) that night, correct me if I am wrong. It was poorly promoted but there was no Ronda Rousey back then. There was no proof of what women were capable of doing and generating and the fan bases that were out there. Golden Boy Promotions were kind of hesitant, I was very grateful for being on the card with a legend but I can’t say that was really a break through because it wasn’t.”
West has also tried her hand down south in Mexico where female boxing is so popular they do not hesitate to feature women on both their major TV networks, Televisa and Azteca, on a regular basis even as going as far as to compete with each other on Saturday nights. West was featured on Televisa back in April of 2012 when she defended her WBO title against Argentinean Claudia Lopez via a unanimous decision. Despite putting on a respectful performance, West later realized she might not have the proper genes for the Mexican audience, and support from Mexican promoters, to get behind her.
“It is just like in America. When you have a local promoter and they say, ‘yeah sure, we’ll put on a female on the card but she has to live 50 miles this way and the opponent has to be 30 minutes that way because we don’t want to pay travel.’ In Mexico it is the same thing,” West says about her experience in Mexico. “Just like Ava (Knight), Ava went out there and took out the princess Arely Muncino and even Ava got put in a bum contract with a promoter in Mexico that didn’t do much for her. If you are a citizen of the United States, it doesn’t matter how good you are or how popular women’s boxing is, Mexico will always have a female champion they would want to keep and win the throne. There are no real roots of investment in Mexico.
I think they are a lot of smaller promoters who love putting women on their card, a lot more than in America. They promote shows, they promote women, they love and they will bring you on but as far as the top promoters, Zanfer for example, they have their female champions they are investing in, they are putting their time in. I know this because we’ve had conversations with these promoters in Mexico and there is an interest but there is an interest to bring you in as the opponent. There is not an interest to build you up as a star if you are not from Mexico. It’s not that the promoters decline it, but the promoters are about making money as business and they don’t feel the fans of Mexico will truly ever embrace and accept a female champion from the states coming over to Mexico and calling her their own champion. It’s just not realistic. I can go over there and fight a couple of fights and then fight a big fight with a Mexican champion and whatnot, I have done that in Europe against Anita (Christensen), I have had some fights in Mexico and that is not really the avenue I can say our team would really want to go with.
Women are starting to get popular in the United States, there is starting to be breakthrough for boxing in the states, we need help to launch the sport of women’s boxing and leave a fashionable mark in people’s mind and engraved in people’s mind of their impression of women’s boxing.”
As far as the future, West mentioned she is looking for a fight before the end of the year or early next year. She recently signed with a new promoter but because of a family issue with the president of the new company, her return has slowed down. As far as whom she wants to face on her return? Like a true champion, she is only looking for the best.
“I haven’t even been looking around, I don’t know names anymore. For the last two years I was focusing on my personal life. Whatever name is out there in the top three, those are the names. You can list them, 118, 122, top three names, as those whom I want to fight. I have to. If I want to try to make the women’s boxing hall of fame, I have to go out after those names so they are on the roster.”
To listen to the complete unedited interview, please visit LeaveItInTheRingRadio.com and search for the 2-Min Round podcast episode #14. The 2-Min Round Podcast: Hooks and Jabs on the Female Fight World on the Leave It In The Ring Network with co-hosts David Avila, Elena “Baby Doll” Reid and Felipe Leon is live every other Thursday on BlogTalkRadio.com at 7pm Pacific time. The next show is scheduled for October 6th.