Mexico and World Will Have To Wait
By Felipe Leon
As easily as the boxing Gods give a fight, as easily as they can take them away. The summer had all the writings to be a scorcher for Mexican female fight fans as it was talked about of a mega fight between the legendary Mariana “Barbie” Juarez (46-9-4, 17KO) of Mexico City and Tijuana, Mexico’s Jackie “Aztec Princess” Nava (33-4-3, 14KO) for the end of the summer. As late as mid-June it seemed as all systems were go with only fine details needing buttoning up but just this week Nava publicly announced the fight had been scratched due to scheduling issues.
Since there have been professional boxing, there have been Mexicans plying the trade. Unlike that other Mexican national pastime, soccer or as it is known south of the border futbol, professional prizefighting has given the country a number of world champions and is considered one of the world’s power houses. Memorable battles between Aztec warriors inside the squared circle have been waged on both sides of the borders. Wars between Jesus “Chucho” Castillo and Ruben “Puas” Olivares, the trilogies between Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales and Rafael Marquez versus Israel Vazquez, the fights between Julio Cesar Chavez Sr and Mario “Azabache” Martinez, Lupe Pintor vs Carlos Zarate among others have gone down in the annals of the sport and have become legendary.
Since the ordinance first written in 1947 which banned female boxing in Mexico was repealed in the mid-90s, the sport has grown by leaps and bounds. So much so that female boxing in Mexico is regularly featured on the two biggest terrestrial TV networks in the country with female bouts regularly scheduled as the main event often on the same Saturday night.
Despite of that, only two female fights between Mexicans have reached the level of iconic relevance as those male fights mentioned earlier. There have been plenty of memorable wars between two women inside a ring in Mexico but none of them have reached legendary status as the two blood baths between Tijuana, Mexico’s Nava and Ana Maria Torres of Mexico City. The battles emulated the animosity displayed between the provincial Erik Morales and the metropolitan Marco Antonio Barrera before them.
First pitted against each other in April of 2011 on Mexican mega-channel Televisa, which was the home of Torres, the fight ended with a controversial draw. Three months later they did it again but this time on the Azteca channel, which spotlighted Nava, with Torres coming away with a polemic unanimous decision win. The battles waged that summer between the two women froze the nation as much if not more than any of those other male fights as it was something never seen before on Mexican airwaves. Two highly polished, in and out of the ring, skilled women throwing caution out the window and crashing fists first for personal pride as well as defending the honor of their respective cities.
A third fight was discussed immediately after the second but it never came to fruition with the now 37-year-old Ana Maria Torres fighting twice more, getting married and retiring from the sport. Nava has kept fighting taking long breaks to give birth to two daughters as well as winning a seat in the Mexican congress. With the super bantamweight division lacking recognition in Mexico, Nava set her sights on veteran Juarez as the biggest payday out there for both as well as bringing back some of the spotlight on the two icons.
The 37-year-old Juarez has not sat idly by though and has been most active of the three icons. She just recently captured the WBC bantamweight title with an impressive win over Catherine Phiri while cementing her name in the record books as the only Mexican female fighter to win three titles in as many divisions. Her fight also gathered more than 400,000 fans to her fight at the Zocalo in Mexico City earlier this year.
A possible face-off between the two was mentioned as early as 2014 despite both fighters being three divisions apart at the time. Three years ago Nava was the WBC and WBA super bantamweight champion while Juarez was campaigning at super flyweight.
“I like the fight, it is just a matter of our promoters getting together and coming to an agreement,” Nava said at the time about the fight. “I know it is a good fight and one the fans want to see.”
Juarez also at the time mentioned it was an encounter of interest. “Of course it is a good fight. Jackie and I have done things right in boxing and this fight has been talked about. I am willing to accept the fight if there is a good agreement.”
The talks went to the wayside as Nava pursued her political career while Juarez set her sights on making history. While hints here and there where dropped it wasn’t until earlier this summer the mega-fight talks again heated up to a near boil.
In early June as representatives of their respective promoters, Promociones del Pueblo for Juarez and Zanfer for Nava, intensified talks, “Barbie” confirmed the possibility of the fight happening in late August during the traditional “Tuesday Coffee Time” press conference held by the WBC once a week.
“I have stated I want to leave my career on a high note and this fight would help me do that,” the confident Juarez stated. “I admire Jackie for her boxing skill, I admire her as a woman, as a mother, I think it is going to be a good fight, I have two or three things I think will help get my hand raised and that is why I am considering the challenge.”
Juarez stated her killing instinct, something she feels Nava lacks, would be the key for a Mexico City win while Nava made a point to stress the fight would have to be in the bantamweight division and for Juarez’s title. Nava stated she needed to know soon of the possibility of the match up so she could plan accordingly, not only her training but her responsibilities in the Mexican Congress. “I have been in talks with my promoter, Fernando Beltran; it is a fight that will draw attention. She is experienced and very popular; it would be interesting but still need some negotiating.”
Attention might have been one of the biggest motivation factors for the fight to happen. While Juarez is still active and still as popular as ever now that she has captured her third world title, Nava has seen her popularity wane as her activity has dwindled to once or twice a year. The fact she is often criticized for her political stances has not helped. The fact that younger, hungrier, Mexican female fighters are beginning to shake up the divisions such as Jessica “Kika” Chavez, Esmeralda “Joya” Moreno and Kenia Enriquez among others has not helped.
The bout was planned for Mexico City and would have been broadcast live by both major Mexican networks.
Just as it seemed as if it was a done deal, with a more than tentative date set for August 26th, the announcement of the circus between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Conor McGregor claimed another victim.
A Zanfer insider confirmed the fact the Azteca channel, the network Nava’s promoter has an exclusive deal with, was committed to broadcasting Mayweather Jr’s 50th fight inside a boxing ring and would not be able to participate in the Juarez-Nava fight on that date. Without their financial and marketing backing, the fight needed to be postponed.
Unfortunately Nava’s schedule is not as open as it was in 2011 when she faced Torres, now the mother of two young girls and with her responsibilities in congress, the window for her to perform has decreased considerably.
Nava stated earlier this week now that the date of August 26th has been scratched, she will not be able to perform for the rest of 2017.
“Unfortunately it was all but done for August but now it can’t happen this year,” she said to ESPN Deportes. “Maybe next year it can happen. I will be in congress beginning in September and we have a lot of work. I won’t be able to fight for the rest of the year.”