WBC Flyweight Tourney Rolls On
In late January of this year Mauricio Sulaiman, president of the World Boxing Council, announced at the second annual All-Female WBC Boxing convention his intention of organizing a flyweight tournament sometime in 2016. He mentioned guaranteed purses and exposure on television as major tenants of the tourney. Some of the names he mentioned to be part of it was current WBC 112 pound champion Jessica “Kika” Chavez, former two-time WBO flyweight champion Melissa McMorrow, former champion Ava Knight, current WBC Silver light flyweight champion Ana Arrazola, current WBC Silver flyweight champion Raja Amasheh and current WBC light flyweight champion Ibeth “Roca” Zamora among others.
By the end of the summer, it was a forgotten promise to many since Sulaiman had not mentioned it since. But surprisingly, in late September, he released a press conference not only announcing the beginning of the tournament but also the first round and the fact the absolute winner will take the coveted WBC Diamond belt as its spoils.
The first match of the tournament took place on October 1st from Ecatepec, Mexico, with the champion Chavez (28-4-3, 4KO) scoring an impressive unanimous decision over the tough Naoko Fujioka (15-2, 6KO) over 10 pressure filled rounds. Chavez proved why she is the top seed to take the tournament as she displayed incredible poise as she turned back everything Fujioka had to offer. It was the second time for the Japanese kamikaze in Aztec soil with her first a split decision win over legendary Mariana “Barbie” Juarez back in early 2015. This time Chavez didn’t make the trip such a pleasant one sending Fujioka back to the land of the rising sun with a loss via scores of 96-92 and 95-93 twice.
With the win Chavez advances to the second round that will be held in early 2017. All she has to do is wait for the winners of the fights to be held this Saturday, October 22nd.
The first will be in Vienna, Austria, where the current WBC Silver flyweight champion Raja Amasheh (19-0-1, 4KO) puts up her undefeated record against the much more experienced Ana Arrazola (25-11-3, 13KO) of Mexico City. Arrazola captured the vacant WBC Silver light flyweight title back in January at the traditional fight card held during the female convention with a unanimous decision over the unheralded Yanely Hernandez. Now she will challenge Amasheh for her title that the Jordanian residing in Germany won back in May of 2014 with a unanimous decision over Susana Cruz.
Amasheh last saw action on that same card in Rosarito, Mexico, as part of the convention defeating Eileen Olszewski over ten rounds with a unanimous decision. After beating Hernandez, Arrazola got a tune up fight in July that turned out to be a little more than she could chew as she and to settle for a majority draw against 2-1-2 Elizabeth Lopez in a four rounder.
The other fight part of the tournament will be held in Mexico City and will be televised live on the biggest network in the country, Televisa. The fight on paper is the most competitive and best on paper up to this point. It pits former champions Esmeralda Moreno (33-9-1, 11KO) and Melissa McMorrow (10-5-3, 1KO) in what promises to be an all-out war.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for McMorrow going into this fight is her inactivity. Not something new for the 35-year-old Brazilian-American since her relentless style makes her not a favorite opponent. McMorrow has not seen action since February of 2015 when she defeated Kenia Enriquez for the WBO flyweight title via a split decision in Rosarito, Mexico. The title was eventually stripped for lack of inactivity but it wasn’t from lack of trying from McMorrow.
The fact McMorrow will be fighting in Moreno’s hometown does not worry her at all. “I have fought the best and I don’t know why I couldn’t handle Moreno. I know she will be fighting at home but I ran into that same situation against Kenia Enriquez and I know I have what it takes to get the win this Saturday. I am here for Esmeralda and then I will come back for the diamonds on green and gold strap.”
McMorrow has also faced Mariana “Barby” Juarez, Jessica “Kika” Chavez and Arely Mucino, dropped close controversial decisions to all three.
Moreno has had much better luck in the activity department with this being her third fight of the year. In the first back in April, Moreno actually traveled to Vienna, Austria, and pulled the upset over Eva Voraberger at super flyweight in one of the best fights of the year. She came back to Mexico for her next fight, arguably the best female fight of the year so far where she lost a controversial majority decision over Jessica Chavez herself back in July. Moreno has been petitioning the WBC for a rematch of that fight and if everything goes her way, she might just get it in the second round or in the final of the tournament. First, she must get past the very tough McMorrow.
“It will be a very tough fight against McMorrow,” she said at the final press conference held this week. “She comes forward and has a style very similar to mine. The audience will come out winning with this fight which will be explosive from the opening bell.”
One more fight is scheduled for the first round with the WBC light flyweight champion Ibeth “Roca” Zamora facing an opponent to be named in early November. Zamora, considered one of the best female fighters in Mexico, if not in the world, asked for a direct opportunity against Chavez at the convention without having to relinquish her 108 pound belt. By the looks of it, that petition fell to deaf ears as Sulaiman made her participate in the tournament to get her shot at the WBC flyweight champion.
A bad call for me but a great call for us fans.