The Best Female Prizefighters Pound for Pound
By David A. Avila
Here is the long-awaited pound for pound list of the best female fighters from around the world.
Many on this list are unknown to casual fans of boxing especially due to the lack of televised female fights in the U.S. But in other countries like Argentina, Germany and Mexico female boxing thrives and is followed fervently by boxing fans.
A few of the women on this list have been fighting under the radar for years. Even web sites like Boxrec have been clueless to some of the most talented fighters in the female fight world. The best example is the number one female fighter in the world. Being the best is not about undefeated records, it’s solely about talent.
Pound for Pound
1. Layla McCarter (39-13-5, 10 Kos) – The Las Vegas-based prizefighter has long flown under the radar of most of the boxing media but has remained undefeated for 10 years. She’s won world titles from featherweight to super welterweight but few realize her superior skill level. A fair comparison would be a female Floyd Mayweather with a punch. Many claim Braekhus is the pound for pound best, but in my estimation, years of avoiding a confrontation with 38-year-old McCarter surely proves there is a reason Braekhus has not wanted to face the Las Vegan. McCarter has only gotten better through the years in a career that began in 1998.
2. Amanda Serrano (33-1-1, 25 Kos) – No other female prizefighter has jumped to the top of this list as quickly as the Puerto Rican southpaw. Serrano, 28, has conquered five weight divisions and seeks to conquer a sixth perhaps in November. She has all of the tools including a 71 percent knockout rate that can’t be equaled by any female fighter in the world. But the Brooklyn-based fighter can box with the best of them as her win over Mexico’s Yazmin Rivas proved early in the year. Serrano is leading the way in terms of televised bouts. The work-a-holic is a budding superstar. Hopefully television networks see it too.
3. Cecilia Braekhus (31-0, 8 Kos) – Few have the all-around athleticism as the Norwegian welterweight world champion. Braekhus, 36, has never been defeated in her 10 years of prizefighting and has won all of the various titles. But most of her recent wins have come against subpar European fighters. Her last win against Argentina’s Erica Farias was a good win but why not meet Layla McCarter? That would be the true test of who truly is the pound for pound best in female boxing. It remains a puzzle why the Norwegian fighter resists. Hopefully the two female titans will meet.
4. Jessica Chavez (30-4-3, 4 Kos) – The Mexico City flyweight has withstood the storm in the crowded division including several Mexican wars. Chavez, 29, just recently defeated Esmeralda Moreno in the finale of the WBC flyweight tournament. Trained by the great Nacho Beristain, the busy flyweight is a boxer with good movement and timing. Her biggest wins came against Naoko Fujioka last year and Moreno in late September. The boxer-puncher is following in the footsteps of its other great boxer Mariana Juarez.
5. Naoko Fujioka (16-2, 7 Kos) – Based out of Tokyo, Japan though 42-years old she remains a force. Fuijioka is hunting for a fifth world title in a fifth weight division next month when she battles Costa Rica’s Yokasta Valle for the light flyweight world title if they can make the fight. Fujioka’s biggest win was against Mexico’s Mariana Juarez in Mexico City in March 2015. She is considered Japan’s greatest female fighter ever and still has the speed and reflexes to continue on.
6. Yesica Bopp (32-1, 13 Kos) – Don’t be fooled by her perky smile the 33-year-old from Buenos Aires, Argentina has not slowed down a bit. After a two-year layoff due to pregnancy, “LaTuti” Bopp returned with the same energy and boxing skills as before. Currently the WBA light flyweight titlist, she dominated Olga Julio last month and cruised to victory. Bopp is one of the few Argentine prizefighters willing to travel and can sell out an arena almost anywhere.
7. Jelena Mrdjenovich (37-10-2, 19 Kos) – Canada’s best traveled to Europe again and escaped with a draw in France. It was her second visit to France and second close decision to retain her featherweight world title. Maybe it’s time to face Amanda Serrano in a super fight. Mrdjenovich has fought four of her last five fights outside of Canada. A fight across the U.S. border on Showtime would be a sure fire hit and worth the travel and risk.
8. Mariana Juarez (46-9-4, 17 Kos) – Every time someone counts the fighter known as “Barby” out of the mix, she does something incredible. This time Mexico’s great Juarez won the bantamweight world title in front of nearly half a million people in her nation’s capital. Those two feats are reason enough to include her once again on the pound for pound list. Juarez, 37, simply knows how to fight and how to attract monster crowds. She remains incredible and one of the most successful female prizefighters today.
9. Delfine Persoon (38-1, 16 Kos) – The Belgian lightweight has dominated Europe for years, but like her other European compatriot Braekhus the competition has been rather tepid. Other than Erica Farias three years ago, the competition has been sparse. It’s difficult for world champions in Europe to venture outside of their comfort zone when they are making much more money than they would traveling. Too bad. It would be refreshing to see Persoon, 32, in the U.S. or in Argentina defend her title.
10. Marcela Acuna (46-6-1, 19 Kos) – Now 40, the Argentine prizefighter has long been that country’s most skilled boxer and one of its pioneers. Her knockout victory over Argentine rival Yesica Marcos in the last round was a highlight reel. She may be slowing down after 20 years in the fight business which began with a pro debut against Christy Martin in 1997. Her second pro bout was against Lucia Rijker. She lost to both superstars but proceeded to build a hall of fame career that may be coming to an end.
11. Esmeralda Moreno (35-10-1, 11 Kos) – Pure and simply Moreno is a brawler, but oh what a brawler. The Mexico City prizefighter known as “La Joya” recently defeated the tough “Ibeth Zamora. And she had to comeback after being knocked down early in the fight. Moreno fought her way to the finals of the WBC flyweight tournament. Despite the loss Moreno, 30, remains a force and a tough competitor.
12. Kenia Enriquez (19-1, 9 Kos) – The Tijuana-based prizefighter is the youngest of everyone on this list. Enriquez is a fearless and talented prizefighter blessed with speed, power and a confidence seldom seen. Enriquez, 23, will fight anyone anywhere unlike most of her compatriots who fight merely in Mexico, the slender assassin relishes any opportunity to display her talent overseas. Think of Amanda Serrano as a light flyweight and that’s Enriquez.
Honorable Mention: Ibeth Zamora, Claressa Shields, Christina Hammer, Jackie Nava, Melissa St. Vil, Catherine Phiri, Katie Taylor, Eva Wahlstrom, Erica Farias, Anabel Ortiz and Daniela Bermudez
(Photo by Boxing Tribune)