WBC Flyweight Tourney Takes Flight
When Mauricio Sulaiman, president of the World Boxing Council, made the announcement in the last weekend of January during the closing of the second annual WBC Female Boxing Convention of his interest to organize a 112-pound tournament, all those in attendance at a Tijuana, Mexico, hotel began to salivate.
During the announcement Sulaiman mentioned the likes of current flyweight champion Jessica “Kika” Chavez, current Silver champion Raja Amasheh, former champion Ava Knight, 108-pound champion Ibeth “Roca” Zamora and at the time WBO Melissa McMorrow among others as participants. Ten months later, the tournament announced first round bouts take place this month in Mexico and in Europe with the next round scheduled for January and February of 2017. The final is set for either May or June of next year.
The winner of the tournament will not only hold the WBC flyweight title but also have the opportunity to add the WBC Diamond belt to their collection.
Seven of the eight participants have been announced with the tournament kicking off on October 1st in Mexico.
Reigning champion Jessica “Kika” Chavez (27-4-3, 4KO) faces the dangerous Naoko Fujioka (15-1, 6KO) of Japan, undefeated WBC Silver champion Raja Amasheh (19-0-1, 4KO) takes on WBC 108lb Silver champion Ana Arrazola (25-11-3, 13KO) of Mexico in Vienna on October 22nd and on the same night, but in Mexico, Esmeralda Moreno (33-9-1, 11KO) is going against Melissa McMorrow (10-5-3, 1KO) of San Francisco, CA. WBC light flyweight champion Ibeth “Roca” Zamora will also participate on November 5th in Mexico against an opponent to be determined.
Chavez has been on a tear since capturing the title back in September of last year, defending it three times with wins over Italian Simona Galassi, Argentine Vanessa Taborda and in her last fight against Esmeralda Moreno in a Fight of the Year candidate. Her fight against Fujioka is her third and perhaps final for the year.
“I am ready for anything Fujioka brings, this has been the best camp of my life,” Chavez said recently. “I will defend my title like a beast; nobody is going to take it away from me and less alone a foreigner.”
The fight will mark the second time the 41-year-old Fujioka travels to Mexico with her first one being a successful trip. In March of last year she defeated Mariana “Barbie” Juarez via split decision in Mexico City with a masterful performance. Fujioka is confident she can duplicate the result against Chavez.
“I don’t care how but the important thing is to win the title and take it home. This is an important fight since I want to defeat the best fighter in the flyweight division. It doesn’t matter in what part of the world the fight is, I know I am going to win. I already defeated ‘Barbie” Juarez so I don’t see why I can’t defeat ‘Kika’. I know she will be at home in front of her crowd but I already have gone through that with Juarez and I know I have the skills to get the win on Saturday. It’s going to be a great fight.”
As far as legendary trainer Nacho Beristain who is the chief second for Juarez, he is sure they will not have an easy night in front of them.
“Right now ‘Kika’ Juarez is the best pound for pound fighter in the world but I feel this fight against the Japanese will be her toughest fight yet,” Beristain insisted. “’Kika’ will have to be very intelligent, Fujioka throws a lot of punches and is always coming forward. We have studied her well, we will go after her from the first round on.”
The fight will be televised live in Mexico by the Televisa network.
On October 22nd at the Wimberger Hotel in Vienna, Austria, the second championship bout of the tournament will take place between defending WBC Silver champion Raja Amasheh of Germany by way of Jordan and WBC Silver light flyweight champion Ana Arrazola of Mexico City.
Both warriors fought on the same card back in January at the event to close the second annual WBC female boxing card with Amasheh defending her title against Eileen Olszewski via unanimous decision, while Arrazola defeated little known Yanely Hernandez to capture her title, also via unanimous decision. Amasheh has been on a holding pattern since then with the fight against Arrazola only her second one of the year while the Mexican fought to a draw against Elizabeth Lopez in a four rounder last July in Cancun, Mexico.
Amasheh captured her title back in May of 2014 with a unanimous decision over Susana Cruz and since then she has defended it three times against Amira Hamzaoui, Teeraporn Pannimit and the aforementioned Olszewski.
The southpaw Arrazola, 34, has challenged for the WBA and WBO 108lb, IBF 105lb, IBF 108lb and WBO 108lb titles coming up short in every one of those bids but has won her last four against that one draw in her last fight since her last loss.
On the same night, but at the legendary Arena Coliseo in Mexico City, and televised in all of Mexico on the Televisa network, former WBC light flyweight champion Esmeralda Moreno will take on the tough Melissa McMorrow in a special attraction 10 rounder as the main event of the night.
Moreno is coming off a title challenge of Jessica Chavez last July where she lost a close majority decision which she has protested since. In her previous fight to that and her first of the year, Moreno went to Austria and defeated Eva Voraberger for a myriad of lesser known titles via majority decision in April.
She has a tough test in McMorrow who is known to go to foreign lands and come out with her hand on raised. She has done it Germany to capture the WBO flyweight title in 2012 and then again in 2015 to capture the same title but this time in Mexico.
“I have been guaranteed another title shot against Chavez so it will not be McMorrow who will ruin my plans,” Moreno stated regarding her fight against the fighter from the U.S. “I will be looking for the knockout from the first round in what will be literally a war.”
As far as McMorrow, she is happy to be back in Mexico and against one of the best in the division.
“I am happy, I have always wanted to prove I am the best and this is the perfect opportunity. I know Esmeralda will be a tough test and that is why I am getting in the best shape of my life. The Diamond belt will be mine,” McMorrow said.