Beasts of the East: Best Female Fighters East Coast
By David A. Avila
With television focusing primarily on female prizefighters of the East Coast a few have stood out like world champions Amanda Serrano and Claressa Shields.
Here are some of the best female boxers below the heavyweight division without a major world title that reside east of the Mississippi River that can compete with anybody at any time:
Franchon Crews (2-1) 30, Baltimore, Maryland – Not many coming out of the amateur boxing world would fight anybody put in front of them. Crews, 30, is one of the few willing to do it as was her opponent Claressa Shields back in November 2016. The two made their pro debuts against each other and lit up the arena with a display of all-action fighting that showed off both fighter’s skills and guts. Though Crews lost the fight, she opened up eyes with her fighting abilities. She can really fight.
Best fight: Nov. 19, 2016 Crews vs Claressa Shields 4 rounds Las Vegas, Nevada
Tyrieshia Douglas (13-1) 28, Baltimore, Maryland – She’s not shy about fighting outside of the country. Two years ago she traveled to Argentina where she lost a close decision to Leonela Yudica for the IBF flyweight title. The speedy Douglas has fought super flyweights and bantamweights with no problem. All she needs is a chance to prove herself in her natural weight class the flyweights. She may need to find action in the west where the smaller weights are more prevalent.
Best fight: June 17, 2017 Douglas vs Ebony Rivera 10 rounds Baltimore, Maryland
Chevelle Hallback (30-8-2) 46, Tampa, Florida –There was a time when Hallback was the best female fighter pound for pound. The years have passed but she still has that edge in athleticism and skill that still separates her from most fighters today. Her last fight was three years ago but it’s not because she is unwilling to fight, she just needs an offer and she is ready to go. Hallback can fight at super lightweight to super welterweight. Years ago in her second pro fight she duked it out with the great Lucia Rijker. Her second fight against Layla McCarter is arguably the best female fight in history.
Best fight: July 2, 2004 Hallback vs Layla McCarter Pala, California
Heather Hardy (20-0) 35, featherweight Brooklyn, NY – In the summer of 2016 Hardy and Shelly Vincent put on a sizzling display of female boxing to a nationwide television audience. It proved that women’s boxing was entertaining. The blonde spitfire has also proven to be a sure thing in selling tickets and remains undefeated. Hardy, 35, showed that female fighting can sell if done properly. Now others have picked up the reins as the sport continues to progress. Hardy is also venturing into MMA but still maintains a foothold in boxing.
Best fight: Aug. 21, 2016 Hardy vs. Shelly Vincent in Coney Island, New York.
Ronica Jeffrey (15-1) 34, featherweight Brooklyn, New York – She is going on her 10th year as a professional and has solid boxing skills. Her only loss was by split decision to Carla Torres back in 2014. Jeffrey has fought many top featherweights including Lindsay Garbatt, Olivia Gerula and Jackie Trivilino. Now is her time to get that crack at a featherweight title. It’s time to go to Canada and see what Jelena Mrdjenovich is doing.
Best fight: April 16, 2016 Jeffrey vs. Gentiane Lupi at Auckland, New Zealand.
Helen Joseph (15-3-1, 10 Kos) 28, super bantamweight New Haven, Conn. – Finally cracked through the upper tier with a knockout win over the very tough Shannon O’Connell this past summer in Australia. Before that, Joseph suffered decision defeats against world champions Jennifer Han and Dahiana Santana. The Nigerian native has power and speed so she can definitely fight. Now she just needs to build up a fan base so when matched against someone who draws fans she is paying her own way. But she can fight.
Best fight: July 29, 2016 Joseph vs. Shannon O’Connell at Newstead, Australia.
Aleksandra Magdziak Lopes (18-4-3) 37, welterweight Marshfield, Mass. – Polish born Lopes has a return match with Natasha Spence after fighting to an eight round draw last month. The welterweight’s last loss was against fellow Polish fighter Ewa Piatkowska for the WBC world title in the super welterweight division back in September 2016. She’s not afraid to fight the best and has only lost to champions like Mikaela Lauren, Tori Nelson and Kali Reis during her career. Lopes fights against Natasha Spence on Feb. 23, in Rhode Island.
Best Fight: July 30, 2016 Lopes vs. Szilvia Szabados at Plymouth, Mass.
Jessica McCaskill (5-2) 33, lightweight Chicago, Illinois – Although she started late in pro boxing she is quickly making up ground. Don’t base her fighting ability on her facial features, she is a rough and tumble type of gal. McCaskill is not out to win points on slapping and running, she’s out for the kill as Ireland’s Katie Taylor quickly discovered last month in England. McCaskill has power in both hands and knows how to close ground and get things done. The Chicago fighter has star quality. Television needs to give her another turn.
Best fight: July 29, 2017 McCaskill vs. Natalie Brown in Chicago, Illinois.
Alicia Napoleon (8-1) 31, middleweight, Lindenhurst, New York – Is willing to fight quality and was very competitive when she fought Tori Nelson a year ago in a loss. She is in a division that is heating up because of the arrival of the great Claressa Shields. All Napoleon has to do is keep her place in line to gain a foothold. Odds are she will get a crack at Shields this year.
Best fight: June 3, 2016 Napoleon vs. Latashia Burton at Queens, New York.
Kali Reis (13-6-1) 31, middleweight Providence, Rhode Island – The former middleweight champion got her title taken away by Christina Hammer a year ago. There were several things she could have done but was out-smarted. Still, Reis has talent and luckily fights in a division targeted by Claressa Shields. That means television and that means a good payday.
Best fight: April 16, 2016 Reis vs. Maricela Cornejo at Auckland, New Zealand.
Melissa St. Vil (10-2-4) 34, super featherweight Brooklyn, New York – The Haitian native holds the WBC Silver title and has proven to be a very spirited performer wherever she fights. St. Vil seeks to fight for the world title and should get her shot very soon. She is a crowd pleaser and has a strong following in Haiti. St. Vil has plenty of crowd appeal. But more importantly St. Vil is willing to fight anywhere at any time.
Best fight: July 9, 2016 St. Vil vs. Katy Wilson Castillo in Chengdu, China.
Jennifer Salinas (20-4) 35, super featherweight Providence, Rhode Island – The Bolivian native is one of the long time veterans of the sport. Her first pro fight was in 2003. She has come a long ways. Salinas has developed her own fighting style and knows how to win a fight. She has fought many of the best women ranging from bantamweight to super featherweight including a world title fight against France’s Maiva Hamadouche a year ago. She is very game and is capable of a ferocious performance.
Best fight: Nov. 16, 2013 Salinas vs Yolis Marrugo Franco at Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia.
Shelly Vincent (21-1) 38, super featherweight Providence, Rhode Island – A good and willing scrapper her best known fight was against Heather Hardy over a year ago. It opened the window for female boxing on television. Vincent has been fighting pro since 2011 and has built a solid fan base in Rhode Island. Vincent’s only loss came when fighting outside of her home base. Winning on the road is a whole different experience.
Best fight: Nov. 7, 2014 Vincent vs. Jackie Trivilino at Lincoln, Rhode Island.