Mid-Year Progress Report Part I
By Felipe Leon
The year so far in female boxing has been an excellent one. We have seen Cecilia Braekus break the glass ceiling over at HBO while Claressa Shields gave us one of the most watched fights on Showtime in a number of years. With June coming to the end and the second half of the year ready to gear up, it’s the perfect time to do a quick check up.
Earlier this year we put together a wish list of what we wanted to see for 2018 in female boxing. Now at the mid way point in the year we will give a progress report for each division and name what we want to see in the next six months of the year.
At the beginning of the year we were looking for a fight between Mexican Alejandra Jimenez (10-0-1, 8KO) vs Sonya Lamonakis (10-2-3, 1KO) but unfortunately we have gotten farther than closer to that fight. Jimenez has decided to slowly drop down to 168 pounds in hopes of finding bigger names while Lamonakis has not fought in 2018. Although Jimenez still holds the WBC title it is time for a new name in the division to emerge but as of now it is void of any candidates.
The 168-pound category is one of the most important in female boxing right now and all because of one Claressa Shields. Unfortunately for the division Shields is done with it for now with talks of going even lighter looking for titles in more divisions. Although it’s not official just yet that Shields has vacated the titles, it is almost a done deal. Let’s see if the fighters that remain, Alicia Napoleon, Femke Hermans and Maricela Cornejo among others, can make the fights needed to keep the interest up.
As important as Shields made the super middleweight division, now she is going to do the same at 160 pounds. In her last fight where she captured the vacant WBA and IBF titles against a game Hannah Gabriels, Shields proved it by visiting the canvas for the first time in her life while still dominating the majority of the action. We asked for Shields vs Hammer for 2018 and it almost came to fruition early when both champions exchanged some choice words after Shields’ victory on Showtime. That fight should happen before the end of 2018.
Despite her loss to Shields, the 35-year-old tough as nails Gabriels is still the WBA and WBO champion at 154 pounds. She took a calculated risk against Shields in her last fight and even though she lost, she came off as a winner because now many want to see her again. She can start by unifying the division against fellow champions Chris Namus or Ewa Piatkowska, hopefully on Showtime. Maybe once she achieves that she can establish herself as a name to look for a rematch with Shields at 154 pounds or tempt Braekhus to come up. Probably not before the end of 2018.
Cecilia Braekhus possibly established the division as the most important in female boxing. For all that Shields has done across the street at Showtime, the “Lady of Boxing” broke down the wall on the biggest platform in the sport, HBO. Her fight against Kali Reis in early May is an early candidate for fight of the year with the undefeated Breakhus meeting the canvas for the first time herself. She tops every major pound for pound list but she still needs one more fight to cement her legacy as one of the best female boxers of all time.
It’s Layla McCarter.
It would be a shame if we never see this fight. According to both camps, it’s a matter of money why the fight has not been made. Here is hoping cooler heads prevail and the fight gets made before the end of the year.
Despite making the jump over to MMA earlier this year, Amanda Serrano has announced on her social media she is ready to come back to boxing, at least one more time, to look for her sixth world title. Although not revealing too many details, Serrano has stated it will be in the 140-pound division. That is the best that can happen in the division. The fight we wanted in our wish list between Argentineans Erica Anabella Farias and Ana Laura Esteche happened with Farias taking a unanimous decision despite no titles exchanged waists. A great fight but didn’t get enough play in the United States because no Americans were involved. That is where Serrano comes in.
There are only two names that matter at 135 pounds and for the moment they are on two different orbits. Katie Taylor of Ireland is slowly but steadily taking over the division adding the IBF title to her WBA strap in her last fight, a win over Argentina’s Victoria Noelia Bustos. Top Rank continues to develop the only woman in their roster, American Mikaela Mayer, with fights nearly every other month. That is the fight we asked for in 2018 but it doesn’t look like it might happen. Taylor has said she wants to unify the division that would mean fights against the WBC’s Delfine Persoon or the WBO’s Rose Volante. Mayer has stated she wants to go down and chase a title at 130 pounds so for now Taylor is the biggest name in town at the lightweight division.
The WBC’s queen Eva Wahlstrom survived her biggest challenge to date in Melissa St. Vil while the IBF’s Maiva Hamadouche keeps on plugging along in France in 2018. Shelly Vincent, a natural featherweight but fighting at 130 pounds in her last four fights, is still looking for her footing in the division. We still want the Hamadouche vs Vincent fight, not so much because it would make any earth shattering changes in the division but only because it would be a barn burner. Vincent has kept busy so no threat of ring rust.
At 130 pounds there isn’t really any other fight that matters, does it happen before the end of 2018? We can only hope.
Look for Part II later this week.
(Photo by Al Applerose)