West Coast Breakdown: A Dozen of the Best
By David A. Avila
Over the past year female prizefighters from the West Coast have been virtually invisible as television focused on the East. Unlike the boxers from places like New York and New Jersey, those on the west side of the U.S. are mostly smaller weights.
Bantamweights and flyweights dominate areas like California, Nevada and Arizona. Many have been fighting for more than 10 years and have acquired world titles and accolades while traveling to other countries to show off their skills.
A number of these female prizefighters have already fought each other and produced amazing fights. Here is a breakdown of the best from the West:
Selina Barrios (3-0) – The San Antonio boxer recently won the NABF lightweight title with a spirited performance against an equally spirited Lisa Porter last week. The lightweight clash took place in Louisiana. Barrios, 24, spent some time away from boxing but resumed recently. She is a former amateur standout and relishes fighting any one at any time. She has an aggressive pressure style but can adapt and change to other styles as well. Though she only had two pro fights she was willing to go 10 rounds against Porter and showed great resilience. She is most comfortable at 135 pounds. Barrios has a very television friendly style.
Best fight: Dec.29, 2017 Barrios vs. Lisa Porter 10 rounds in Louisiana.
Melinda Cooper (23-2, 11 Kos) – Though inactive for the past three years the former flyweight world champion rarely walks around at more than 126 pounds. She is capable of fighting anywhere between 115 to 122 pounds. Speed and power are her attributes and she has the ability to box and move effortlessly. But she prefers knockouts. In her career she has fought in France, Mexico and Costa Rica. When she is at her best her fighting skills are electrifying. She looks nothing like a fighter. But for years the 32-year-old was purposely avoided. Now that female boxing has caught up talent-wise, it’s quite possible that Cooper will be seen back in the boxing ring. She is based in Las Vegas and was the first woman or man native to the casino city to capture a world title. Cooper has star quality.
Best fight: Sept. 8, 2012 Cooper vs. Celina Salazar six rounds in Las Vegas.
Kenia Enriquez (20-1, 9 Kos) – Based in Tijuana, Mexico, the light flyweight fights often in the U.S. and has proven to be one of the hardest hitting fighters pound for pound. Enriquez, 24, is a former flyweight world champion but dropped down to the more comfortable 108 pound light flyweight division. She currently has the WBC interim light flyweight title and is looking to fight for the actual world title. Enriquez is a fearless boxer and willing to travel anywhere in the world to prove her superiority. She is a technically sound boxer who always looks for the knockout. She has fought in large fight cards in California and in Mexico. Many of her fights have been televised in Mexico where she has built quite a following. Enriquez could possibly be the next great fighter from Mexico.
Best fight: May 27, 2017 Enriquez vs. Maria Salinas 10 rounds in Ciudad Obregon, Mexico.
Seniesa Estrada (11-0, 2 Kos) – The petite boxer from East L.A. has taken the slow road toward the top and is just about there. Now 25, the light flyweight has a boxing style that can be best explained as part Roy Jones Jr. part Sergio Mora. She is actually trained by Mora’s trainer so that explains her style. After mainly fighting opponents with losing records she stepped it up and began fighting contenders. She dominated. Aside from having a unique style she possesses superior reflexes and speed. Estrada loves to fight and could be fighting for a world title this year. Her last several bouts have shown she can compete with anyone at any level. A clash with Kenia Enriquez would be a Fight of the Year candidate.
Best fight: Sept. 9, 2017 Estrada vs. Anahi Torres in Carson, Calif.
Ana Julaton (14-4-3) – Most of her recent fights have taken place in Mexico but the former world champion is based out of Las Vegas. Her last two fights in Mexico have resulted in draws. That’s the danger of fighting in Mexico. You have to win convincingly. Now 37, Julaton has ventured into MMA like most female prizefighters but maintains she still has a foothold in boxing. Though she won world titles in the super bantamweight weight class she may be more comfortable in the featherweight division. Her last fight was a year ago but she expects to fight soon again in the boxing ring.
Best fight: June 30, 2010 Julaton vs. Maria Elena Villalobos 10 rounds in Rama, Canada.
Ava Knight (14-2-4, 5 Kos) – Though she’s been away for nearly two years Knight remains one of the more talented fighters in the game. The former flyweight world champion lives in Las Vegas now and like so many female boxers in the west has problems getting fights without a promoter. Now 29, she probably is more suited as a super flyweight or bantamweight. The higher the weight the better for the boxer-puncher who is originally from Northern California. Her best work could be at bantamweight. Strength is her asset and fighting in the lower weights seems to drain her of strength. She fought many of the best female fighters in the world.
Best fight: Oct. 29, 2011 Knight vs Arely Mucino 10 rounds in Colima, Mexico.
Mikaela Mayer (3-0, 2 KOs) – A native of Southern California the former Olympian has arrived like gangbusters on the pro fight scene. After signing a promotional contract with Top Rank this past summer, Mayer quickly opened eyes with her blistering attacks. She is tall for a 130-pounds and hits extremely hard and has elite hand speed. Mayer, 27, seems born to fight as a professional. Every time she punches she seems to be looking for the knockout. Her last fight went the distance but she looked impressive in defeating a solid veteran of 20 pro fights. She is the real deal and an extremely dedicated and hard worker.
Best fight: Dec. 9, 2017 Mayer vs. Nydia Feliciano six rounds in New York City.
Raquel Miller (5-0, 3 Kos) – The San Francisco middleweight has arrived on the pro scene at the right moment. Miller, 32, is a strong candidate to face the great Claressa Shields if she wants to take it. She has a good amateur foundation but the longer the wait to face Shields the more difficult it will be. The two have traded barbs on social media so there is a good chance the fight could be made. Miller has good power and a very good following in Northern California. With so few middleweights on the pro fight scene, Miller can be fighting on television soon. A smart move would be to fight Shields now.
Best fight: Oct. 21, 2017 Miller vs. Lisa Garland six rounds in San Francisco, Calif.
Lisa Porter (1-1-1) – Don’t mind her record. It doesn’t reflect the boxing talent the Southern California boxer possesses. All of her foes so far have been very good including her loss to Selina Barrios in a 10-round lightweight clash two weeks ago. Porter, 29, is a pure boxer and knows how to use her length and distance. She also has pop and a good idea how to make adjustments in a fight. Her willingness to accept challenges is a great asset. The lightweight division is filled with potential matchups for Porter who is very comfortable in the boxing ring. She has height and reach to go along with good speed.
Best fight: Dec. 29, Porter vs. Selina Barrios 10 rounds in Alexandria, Louisiana
Amaris Quintana (9-3-2, 1 KO) – The San Diego strawweight fighter always shows a fearlessness in the boxing ring. Her true weight class is at 105 pounds but it’s difficult to find opponents in that weight class so she fights heavier opponents. All of her losses occurred in heavier weight class fights and against world champions. She won the NABF minimum weight title several years back and is anxious to face top notch fighters in her true weight class. Quintana, 28, always brings a large crowd to her fights and never disappoints the fans. She loves boxing and fans love her.
Best fight: June 27, 2014 Quintana vs. Susana Uribe eight rounds in Tijuana, Mexico.
Adelaida Ruiz (3-0) – After 10 years away from boxing the former amateur star returned last year and immediately showed her pedigree. Now based in Los Angeles, she started at lightweight and has dropped down in weight with each fight. Ruiz, 29, says she feels most comfortable at 122 and may drop down to 118. She has fast hands and footwork that improves with each bout. So far the ring rust has evaporated quickly and despite the long absence from boxing, Ruiz looks like she can move up the rankings very quickly.
Best fight: Nov. 25, 2017 Ruiz vs. Dalia Gomez four rounds in Los Angeles, Calif.
Kaliesha West (17-2-3, 4 Kos) – The former bantamweight and super bantamweight world champion returned to the boxing ring after a three-year layoff and surprised many with a solid victory over a strong opponent. West, 29, was slightly rusty and it showed in her legs, but what she lost in her mobility she gained in pure power. Every time she connected she moved her opponent. Over her career she has fought in Denmark, Peru, and several times in Mexico. She’s a fearless competitor and has a very strong following as her last fight proved when more than 100 people arrived to greet her following her win. West also has very good boxing skills and when at her best is very athletic. She can compete with anyone in the world.
Best fight: June 18, 2011 West vs. Ava Knight 10 rounds in Pico Rivera, Calif.
Next week: a breakdown of the East Coast top fighters