WBC Female Flyweight Tournament Update: Ibeth Zamora Jumps Into Mix
By Felipe Leon
After World Boxing Council president Mauricio Sulaiman announced in mid-September the launch of the WBC female flyweight tournament with the winner taking home the coveted diamond belt and 112-pound supremacy, three of the four fights for the first round were quickly set and scheduled.
First up was the current champion of the division Jessica “Kika” Chavez (28-4-3, 4KO) who took on the always tough Naoko Fujioka (15-2, 6KO) of Japan on October 1st in her hometown of Ecatepec, Mexico.
Trained by the legendary Nacho Beristain, Chavez proved to be too smart and strong as she took a unanimous decision with scores of 96-92 and 95-93 twice after sending Fujioka to the canvas in the fourth. It was a controversial knockdown while replays show it was caused more from a clash of heads than a punch. Chavez was a deducted a point in the 10th and final round for holding.
The next two fights of the initial round of the tournament went down on the same night but from different sides of the globe.
In Vienna, Austria, the previously undefeated and defending WBC Silver flyweight champion Raja “Raging” Amasheh (19-1-1, 4KO) of Jordan, by way of Germany, was promptly relieved of her perfect record as well as her title by Mexico City’s Ana “Bronca” Arrazola (26-11-3, 13KO) via a close decision of 97-93 and 96-94 twice.
Amasheh was the clear favorite in the fight over the current WBC Silver light flyweight champion in Arrazola. Undefeated, fighting in her weight class and near her home base, it was expected Amasheh to force her busy pressure-filled style over the slightly taller southpaw. What Amasheh and her team didn’t count on was Arrazola’s experience, with 40 fights under her belt and nearly 300 rounds, Arrazola has faced everybody in and near her division in far away locations as Argentina against Yesica Yolanda Bopp twice, Germany where she faced Susi Kentikian, South Korea for Ji Hyun Park and Japan where she took on Naoko Shibata. Arrazola had also challenged for the WBO and WBA 108lb, IBF 105lb and 108lb and WBO 112lb world titles by the time she faced Amasheh.
As expected Amasheh was the aggressor moving forward for most of the fight but it was Arrazola who countered with the harder and cleaner punches. Arrazola’s weapon of choice was her left uppercut that she landed almost at will.
On the same night but in Mexico City, two former world champions clashed in the third fight of the tourney with Mexico City’s Esmeraldo “La Joya” Moreno (34-9-1, 11KO) and Melissa McMorrow (10-6-3, 1KO) of San Francisco, CA, going at it for ten rounds as the main event.
Both considered veterans with McMorrow going pro in ’08 and Moreno three years earlier in ’05, the fight pitted two very experienced fighters against each other. Moreno captured the WBC light flyweight title in June of 2012 and defended it once against Maricela Quintero while McMorrow has held the WBO flyweight title twice, first in 2012 and again in 2015.
The fight resulted in a rough and tumble affair with head butts causing cuts on both fighters with McMorrow getting the worst of it. Moreno was able to take the wide unanimous decision with scores of 100-88, 100-90 and 98-89 based on an effective and intelligent use of a jab that prevented the always hard charging McMorrow at bay while also forcing the San Francisco fighter to fight going backwards, something you don’t see all that often.
Now the fourth fight of the first round has been announced for November 26th with current WBC light flyweight champion Ibeth “Roca” Zamora (26-5, 11KO) making the jump north of four pounds to face undefeated Nina Stojanovic (9-0, 3KO) of Serbia in the main event of again the Televisa network. Zamora will defend her 108-pound title with the understanding if she wins, she will get an automatic pass to the second round of the tournament according to the World Boxing Council.
Next to Chavez, Zamora might be the most accomplished fighter in the tournament and like “Kika” is easily considered the best champion of her division. The fact that she will actually be going up in weight might not be that much of a factor since she owns wins against all the other fighters still alive in the tournament. She defeated Arrazola back in ’07 in her pro debut while scoring a win over Moreno in her second fight as a pro but she lost against “La Joya” in an immediate rematch in ’08 for the interim Mexican national flyweight title. She beat Chavez two fights later in the summer of the same year and added a win over the current WBA minimumweight champion Anabel Ortiz five months later. Seven years later she scored another win over Chavez this time defending her current title and scored a unanimous decision in the fall of 2014 while beating Moreno again in September of last year with a unanimous decision as well to defend her title once again.
“I have already beaten all the fighters that remain in the tournament,” Zamora recently stated. “The panorama is different though since now they are very strong but I will do everything I can to make it to the final and win that diamond belt. That is a belt I want and for my name to go down in history.”
Since capturing the vacant title, left vacant by Moreno herself, in 2013, Zamora has defended it seven times with wins over Maricela Quintero, Ava Knight, Jolene Blackshear, Mari Ando and Keisher McLeod Wells besides the aforementioned ones over Chavez and Moreno.
In the fighter Stojanovic, the current light flyweight champion Zamora will face a highly over matched opponent whose best win is a split decision win over Austria’s Eva Voraberger earlier in May of 2015. Stojanovic’s best advantage will be her size since she has never fought weighing less than 111 pounds and while Zamora has fought at flyweight, it can be expected she will be the smaller of the two inside the ring despite.
Will cutting down to 108 pounds affect Stojanovic? We will see on fight night.
The winner of Zamora vs Stojanovic, who came out of nowhere to join the tournament, will move on to the next round planned for early 2017. The two winners of the semi-final fights will face each other in early summer for the WBC Diamond and the regular flyweight title.