The 10 Most Game-Changing Fights of 2017
By Felipe Leon
For many the talk of 2017 was how much of a game changing 12 months it was for the sport of female boxing. In this last year we saw an influx of former amateur standouts not only make their debuts as professionals but also set their mark while some established stars got their just due on newer bigger platforms.
Some of these fights were exceptional because they marked a first for female boxing in the United States while others were historic at a world stage. This list focuses on those fights, battles that in what way or another marked the sport in 2017.
January 14th, Amanda Serrano vs Yazmin Rivas – This fight from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, was the first of the year televised on a major network. Although it was on Showtime Extreme, a much more limited platform than their main channel, it only set the way for what came after. The fight, a very good one with Serrano having to work hard for the win against the veteran Mexican, also marked the first time Rivas has fought in the United States.
March 10th, Claressa Shields vs Szilvia Szabados – After making her pro debut on the undercard of the first Ward vs Kovalev bout, Shields made her premium cable debut with this fourth round TKO over the veteran Szabados. It was the first time a female boxing match headlined a televised fight card in the United States. With the win Shields also captured her first title, the regional North American Boxing Federation (NABF) super middleweight title.
March 23rd, Marlen Esparza vs Rachel Sazoff – Golden Boy Promotions announced the signing of the 2012 London Olympics bronze medalist Marlen Esparza with much fanfare and hoopla. Her pro debut, televised on ESPN, did come under some criticism due to the lack of experience and the level of her opponent Rachel Sazoff. Regardless, it marked the fact one of the biggest promotors of the sport was willing to feature a female fighter. Esparza won via unanimous decision.
April 1st, Mariana Juarez vs Catherine Phiri – After a disastrous debut in the bantamweight division, losing to Argentinean Daniela Bermudez, Juarez got back on her horse and tried again. She defeated the highly ranked Irma Garcia before challenging for the WBC title against reigning champion Catherine Phiri. She won via an impressive unanimous decision giving her an unprecedented third title in as many divisions for a Mexican female fighter. The fact she did it in front of over 400,000 fight fans in Mexico City’s Zocalo adds even more to her achievement.
April 22nd, Amanda Serrano vs Dahiana Santana – Puerto Rico’s Amanda Serrano is female boxing’s only five-divisional champion. This fight, which she won via 8th round TKO for the vacant WBO bantamweight strap, marked her fifth and final divisional title. Besides the 118-pound world title, Serrano has captured titles in the lightweight, super featherweight, featherweight and super bantamweight divisions as well. It is said after making her debut in MMA, Serrano will look for a sixth world championship in 2018 at 140 pounds.
August 4th, Claressa Shields vs Nikki Adler – By this time the two-time Olympic gold medalist had already made her US TV debut as well as captured her first regional title but in this fight where she completely dominated a previously undefeated world champion, stopping her in five, to earn her WBC and IBF super middleweight titles. This is the fight that put Shields on the world map at the professional level.
August 5th, Mikaela Mayer vs Widnelly Figueroa – As much as it was a surprise when Golden Boy Promotions announced the signing of their first female fighter in Marlen Esparza, it was an even bigger shock when Top Rank did it. They chose former USA Olympic team member Mikaela Mayer, a talented, skillful, mature and eloquent lightweight. This fight was her pro debut which she passed with flying colors with a TKO win.
September 30th, Jessica Chavez vs Esmeralda Moreno – After their second fight against each other in 2016 was deemed the Fight of the Year, their rubber match was one of the most anticipated fights in female boxing for 2017. The fact it was the final for the WBC’s flyweight tournament added to the significance but the action inside the ring didn’t live up to the anticipation. Chavez completely dominated the current WBC light flyweight champion even sending her down to the canvas near the end of the fight. With the win Chavez cemented her spot as the best current female Mexican fighter in the sport.
October 28th, Katie Taylor vs Anahi Esther Sanchez – With the influx of former Olympians into the sport in the last 18 months, Katie Taylor might be the top of the heap. Even though Shields has captured two world titles, many believe Taylor is the most developed of the two as well as the more popular as she has been quite adequately promoted by Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn. In this fight she captured her first world title, the vacant WBA strap, with an impressive ten round decision over the veteran Sanchez.
December 16th, Silvia Torres vs Brenda Flores – In one of the last fights of the year, the undefeated Silvia “Guerrita” Torres announced her place at the world stage capturing the vacant interim WBA light flyweight title over respectable foe Flores with a unanimous decision. It was a historic night since with her sister, the legendary Ana Maria Torres, they became the first pair of Mexican sisters to have ever captured world titles. The first? Amanda and Cindy Serrano of Puerto Rico.