“Lulu” Hawton Gets Fierce Welcome To United States, Loses to Torres
By Felipe Leon
In a bit of a surprise, Perth, Australia’s Louisa “Lulu” Hawton suffered her first defeat in her first fight in the United States as she was topped by Mexico City’s Anahi “Panterita” Torres for the vacant WBC light flyweight International title on Saturday.
The eight-round bout was part of the undercard headlined by the Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs. Juan Francisco “Gallito” Estrada WBC world title super flyweight tilt broadcast live by HBO.
The bout marked the first for the 33-year-old Hawton (7-1, 3 KOs) since August of 2016 when she captured the vacant WBO flyweight title with a unanimous decision over Japan’s Kei Takenaka while Torres (17-17-1, 12 KOs) was coming off two straight losses to world-class opponents in the likes of Lourdes “Pequeña Lulu” Juarez and Seniesa “Superbad” Estrada.
The fight was the fourth one for Torres in the United States and the first time it ended in victory north of the border.
“We are learning how things work here in the United States,” the 28-year-old Torres said after the fight in an excusive interview. “I am very happy to get the opportunity to fight in the United States and to win this fight.”
During fight week it was announced Hawton was the first female boxer signed to the 360 Promotions helmed by Tom Loeffler and the fight was meant to be her coming-out party not only in the States but in the burgeoning female boxing scene.
Torres had other plans.
From the opening bell Hawton was not able to find her range while she pumped out her jab trying to find it. Torres’ advantage in experience became apparent as she kept just outside the range of her taller opponent’s punches and countered with a right hand.
From the second round on it was clear Torres was going to look for a home for that right cross every which way she could, scoring with straight rights or as a left hook. Torres was also the busier of the two.
“We studied videos of her style,” Torres, who got about a month and a half notice of the fight, stated. “We worked off that. We did our research on what was her style and thank God everything came out in our favor.”
Hawton became a bit more active in the third looking for the body as she was having no luck finding Torres’ head with her punches.
By the mid-point of the fight Hawton began to seem rushed as she and her corner, comprised by her manager Elvis Grant Phillips and trainer Jimmy Montoya, felt the fight slipping away. She began to look for big punches, right hands and uppercuts, in hopes of catching Torres and slowing down her momentum. Torres experience showed again as she kept her composure and kept working on landing her right hand and reddening her opponent’s face.
“We knew she was going to be busy, she throws a lot of punches and comes forward, she is fast,” Torres explained. “We worked on being smart in the ring, throw punches and keep moving.”
Torres began to slow down in the fifth and that gave Hawton the opportunity to score some hard punches to the body but she kept missing big upstairs. Hawton was able to close some of the distance and looked to make it a fight as she pushed Torres against the ropes but the Mexican was able to stay away enough to keep scoring her right.
As far as the right hand, Torres mentioned after the fight it was part of her strategy.
“We did work on that right hand and my corner kept insisting for me to keep throwing it because it was landing. I followed their advice and kept throwing it.”
Hawton, feeling she was at the doorstep of her first loss as a pro, intensified her pressure in the closing rounds while Torres kept plugging along. A left hook by “Panterita” shook up the Australian. Hawton did have her moments with the left hook to the body that she began to land more consistently.
The last two rounds were all Torres as she threw and landed three punch combos to Hawton’s one. The Australian looked for a “Hail Mary” in the last round but it just wasn’t enough as Torres was able to stay in control until the final bell standing in front of Hawton and exchanging blows including a nice left hook to the chin to end the fight.
Judges Tony Crebs saw it 79-73 while John McCarthy and Fernando Villarreal both had it 77-75, all for Torres.
With the win and the title, it positions Torres in the top 15 in the 108-pound division for the WBC but Torres, a natural minimum weight, said she wasn’t sure she would stay in the light flyweight division. “I don’t know, I have to talk it over with my manager and whatever he says, I will do.”