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Female Fight Update: Mexico Taking Lead in Female Boxing

David A. Avila

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Mexico seems to be leading the world when it comes to female professional boxing.

A decade ago it was Germany behind Regina Halmich and Daisy Lang who heralded the women’s fight movement.

But since the two talented German blondes retired the girls in Mexico led by Mariana “Barbie” Juarez, Jackie “Aztec Princess” Nava and many others seem to have taken the lead when it comes to outstanding bouts.

On a weekly basis Mexican girls are defending their titles as main events in their country and in countries like Japan.

Other countries like Argentina have thrown their hats into the ring but seem reluctant to go to other countries. Instead they offer $3,000 purses to extremely talented fighters like Layla McCarter. Of course they’re rejected.

Lately, European countries like France, Denmark, Poland and Spain have also gained interest. Only the U.S. failed to gain momentum in staging female fight cards in 2015.

Here’s what’s happening this week in female boxing:

WBA female bantamweight titlist Irma Garcia (12-1-1) faces veteran Maria Elena Villalobos (13-13-1) in a 10-round contest on Friday Dec. 18. Both Garcia and Villalobos live and train in Mexico City. The fight will take place in the warm climate of Cancun, Mexico.

Seven female bouts are scheduled to take place in Tlalnepantla, Mexico on Friday Dec. 18. The large card also features several male bouts. Those female fighters participating will be Guadalupe Bautista, Jasseth Noriega, Joselyn Reza, Itzayana Cruz, Marlen Sandoval, Vianey Ortega, Giovanna Ledezma, Eloisa Martinez, Valeria Perez, Rosa Olvera, Itzel Paredes, Nancy Vazquez and Maria Martinez are all scheduled to fight on the large card. It’s an impressive showing and exemplifies the drawing power of female fighters in Mexico.

Alondra Garcia (13-2-1) meets Karla Mora (3-4-1) for the vacant WBC female International light flyweight title on Friday Dec. 18. Garcia, 20, lives and trains in Guadalajara, Mexico. Mora is from Tepic, Mexico. The title fight happens in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Japan’s Nana Yoshikawa (4-1) travels to Mexico City to face Denisse De La Cruz (0-1) in a mini flyweight match set for four rounds. The female fight takes place on Saturday Dec. 19. Yoshikawa last fought in April and lost her world title bid against WBA world champion Anabel Ortiz by decision in Japan.

Nina Stojanovic (8-0) is set to face Mirela Barudzic (1-5) in a flyweight bout set for six rounds. Their contest takes place on Friday Dec. 18 in Budva, Montenegro. Stojanovic, 23, lives in Serbia and Marudzic, 22, also lives in Serbia.

Ewa Brodnicka (9-0) fights Elfi Philips (6-2-3) for the vacant EBU female lightweight title on Saturday Dec. 19. Their title fight will be held in Lomianki, Poland. Brodnicka, 31, lives and trains out of Warsaw. Philips, 22, lives and trains out of Belgium.

In Sri Lanka, Nao Ikeyama (16-3-1) faces off with Jujeath Nagaowa (13-15-1) for the WBO atom weight title on Saturday Dec. 19. Nagaowa, 28, fights out of the Philippines. Ikeyama, 46, lives and trains out of Kyoto, Japan. She has a five-fight winning streak.

Rachel Clarke (6-6-1) is set to fight Brittany Inkrote who is making her pro debut. The female middleweight match takes place Saturday Dec. 19, at Hanover, Penn. Clarke, 32, is a southpaw out of Fayetteville, North Carolina. Inkrote lives in York, Penn. It’s set for four rounds.

In Colonia, Uruguay, Paola Ibarra (3-3) meets Amanda Lopes (0-1) in a featherweight bout set for four rounds. Ibarra, 31, lives and trains out of Montivideo, Uruguay. Lopes lives and trains out of Santa Catarina, Brazil.

WBC female minimum weight titlist Yuko Kuroki (14-4-1) defends the belt against Nancy Franco (14-6-2) on Sunday Dec. 20 in Fukuoka, Japan. The southpaw Kuroki, 24, is making her third world title defense. Franco, 26, is the current IBF minimum weight titlist and fights out of Guadalajara, Mexico.

Female Fight results from Around the World Caroline Andre (2-2) defeated Stella Cecilia (0-1) by technical knockout at 1:30 of the sixth and final round of their super lightweight match. Cecilia was making her pro debut. Andre, 34, fights out of Luxembourg where the contest took place.

In Buenos Aires, Argentina, Maria Rivera (7-4-3) defeated Luna Torroba (9-3-2) by unanimous decision after 10 rounds to win the vacant South American super flyweight title. The match took place on Saturday Dec. 12.

In Perry Park, Australia, Arlene Blencowe (4-4) defeated Nongfah Sithjaepung (0-1) by stoppage at 2:00 of the second round. The fight was scheduled for six rounds. Blencowe, 32, lives in Penrith, Australia. Sithjaepung was making her pro debut.

In Denmark, Dina Thorslund (5-0) defeated Jasmina Nadj (5-12-2) by unanimous decision after six rounds.The super bantamweight bout took place in Brondby, Denmark. Thorslund, 22, lives and trains in Denmark. Nadj, 31, fights out of Serbia.

Dahiana Santana (35-7) defeated Diana Garcia (14-22) unanimous decision after eight rounds in a super featherweight bout. Super bantamweight Liliana Martinez (20-15) won by technical knockout at 52 seconds of the first round over Mima Batista (0-12). Diafana Salazar (3-0, 3 Kos) stopped winless Zuleidiy Mejia (0-16) at 1:14 of the first round in their welterweight bout. It was her second fight against Mejia and second knockout. All three fights took place Saturday in Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Stephanie Ducastel (6-3-1) captured the vacant WBF female featherweight title by technical knockout over Gabriella Mezei (4-4-2) on Saturday Dec. 12. Ducastel stopped Mezei at the end of the sixth round of their title fight held in Strasbourg, France. Also, Angelina Panza (0-0-1) and Licia Boudersa (2-1-1) fought to a draw in a lightweight contest.

Taoussy L’Hadji (3-2) captured the vacant French super featherweight title by split decision over Cindy Bonhiver (5-9) after eight rounds. The title fight took place in Nord, France on Saturday. L’Hadji, 38, and Bonhiver, 32, both live in France.

WBC female flyweight titlist Jessica “Kika” Chavez (25-4-3) retained the belt by technical decision after nine rounds against Italy’s Simona Galassi (23-5-1) on Saturday in Mexico City. The fight was stopped 45 seconds into the ninth round and the winner was determined by the score cards. Chavez, 27, won her second consecutive world title defense. She is also a former mini flyweight world champion.

Also, Lourdes “Lulu” Juarez (13-2) won by split decision over Jazmin Gonzalez (4-1).

Tamara Nunez (6-4-3) defeated Maria Capriolo (5-5-3) by majority decision after six rounds in a lightweight contest on Friday Dec. 11. The match took place in Cordoba, Argentina. Both fighters live and train in Argentina.

In Santa Fe, Argentina, Isabel Gutierrez (4-3) defeated Laura Martinez (0-3) by unanimous decision after six rounds. The super featherweight match took place on Friday. Both female fighters live and train in Argentina.

Etsuko Tada (15-2-2) won the vacant IBF minimum weight world title by unanimous decision over Kareli Lopez (8-6-3) on Friday in Kobe, Japan. Lopez, 27, fights out of Mexicali, Mexico.

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Erick Ituarte Wins Featherweight Battle in Ontario, Calif.

David A. Avila

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ONTARIO, CALIF.-Looking to make waves as a featherweight, Santa Ana’s Erick Ituarte battled Tijuana’s Jose Estrella evenly before pulling away in the last third of the fight to win by decision on Friday.

Ituarte (21-1-1, 3 KOs) lacks the big punch but has the long arms that enabled him to keep distance and out-point the shorter Estrella (20-16-1, 14 KOs) in their 10-round bout at the Doubletree Hotel. Thompson Boxing Promotions staged the fight card that saw about 500 fans at the event.

Estrella used his guts and guile to keep the fight close in the first four rounds of the fight. Back and forth they went trading momentum, Ituarte was effective attacking the body and Estrella was good at connecting with big blows to the head.

It wasn’t until the seventh round that Ituarte began utilizing his reach and mobility to make Estrella chase and run into pot shots. From that moment on Ituarte was in control of the fight. No knockdowns were scored with one judge scoring it 98-92 and two others 100-89 for Ituarte. Each round was very competitive.

Other bouts

Corona’s Luis Lopez (5-0, 3 KOs) powered his way to victory by unanimous decision over Mexico’s Daniel Perales (10-17-2, 5 KOs) after four rounds in a welterweight match. Though Lopez won every round with sharper punches he was never able to hurt the super tough Mexican fighter from Monterrey. He recognized that early and used crisp combinations to win each round though Perales had his moments too. All three judges scored it 40-36 for Lopez.

A heavyweight fight saw local fighter Oscar Torres (5-0, 2 KOs) run his record to five wins with a fourth round stoppage over Houston’s Thomas Hawkins (4-4) after a barrage of punches. The fight was stopped twice in the fourth round and a final barrage of blows prompted referee Tony Crebs to halt the fight at 1:20 of the round. Torres fights out of Rialto, California and is trained by Henry Ramirez.

Lightweights Davonte McCowen (0-0-1) and Chris Crowley (0-0-1) fought to a majority draw after four torrid rounds. Both were making their pro debuts. McCowen started faster and slowed in the last two rounds that allowed Britain’s Crowley to mount a rally in the last two rounds. It was a spirited fight between the two newcomers.

Photo credit: Alonzo Coston

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Introducing Australia’s Bilal Akkawy who steps in for David Lemieux on May 4

Arne K. Lang

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Akkawy

“Big Announcement Coming – Stay Tuned” wrote Bilal Akkawy late yesterday (April 18) on his twitter page. And then the Nevada Athletic Commission went and stole his thunder.

Later that day, the commission released its agenda for its forthcoming meeting on April 24. Among the items on the docket will be the selection of officials for Akkawy’s fight with England’s John Ryder. The 12-round contest for a “Vacant WBA Interim Super Middleweight Title” is penciled in as the chief undercard bout on the big May 4 show at the T-Mobile Arena topped by the match between Canelo Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs.

John Ryder’s original opponent, David Lemieux, was forced to pull out when he suffered a hand injury in training.

Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, the undefeated Akkawy (20-0-1, 16 KOs) has been Canelo Alvarez’s chief sparring partner. Canelo’s trainer, Eddy Reynoso, hired Akkawy based on a video that Akkary sent him as he was preparing to set up Canelo’s camp for the 2018 Cinco de Mayo rematch with Gennady Golovkin.

Two days before Canelo-Golovkin II, which was pushed back until September, Akkawy made his U.S. debut at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, scoring an 8-round decision over Christian Olivas. He appeared on the Canelo-Fielding card this past December in New York, scoring a 7th round stoppage over Victor Fonseca, and has had one fight since then, a stay-busy fight buried on a small show in Tamazula, Mexico, in which he didn’t stay very busy, dismissing his hopelessly overmatched opponent in the opening round.

Akkawy comes from a fighting family. His father Mahmoud “Mick” Akkawy and two of Mick’s brothers were good amateurs. Mick Akkawy was 2-0 as a pro when his career was cut short by a serious car accident. Mick and his brother Ahmad “Al” Akkawy now run a boxing club.

The elder Akkawy, whose roots are in Tripoli, was tutored by Johnny Lewis. To this day, Lewis, now 75 years old, insists that Mick Akkawy was the hardest puncher that he ever coached. Bilal Akkawy, says Lewis, inherited his old man’s genes. Lewis rates Bilal the hardest puncher, pound-for-pound, in Australia today.

That’s high praise. Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2017, Johnny Lewis has worked with six world title-holders, most notably Jeff Fenech and Kostya Tsyzu.

Bilal Akkawy’s power was on display on Oct. 30, 2016 when he stopped fellow Aussie Kerry Hope in the seventh round. Akkawy shattered Hope’s jaw – two operations were necessary – and dislodged four of his teeth. His best win since then was a wide 10-round decision over Italian veteran Giovanni De Carolis who had briefly held the WBA world super middleweight title.

Not all of Akkawy’s performances were glowing, however. The draw on his ledger is an ugly smudge, notwithstanding the fact that it came in a 4-round bout. His opponent was Joe Rea, a British slug who is currently 11-37-5 after losing 24 of his last 25 fights. Moreover, although he won every round in his U.S. debut vs. Christian Olivas, we were unimpressed. Akkawy had Olivas down in the second frame but was unable to apply the finisher.

Although Akkawy is a second-generation prizefighter, his father discouraged him from pursuing a career in the ring and he entered the pro ranks without the benefit of a single amateur bout. By contrast, John Ryder had 35 amateur fights before turning pro in September of 2010.

Ryder (27-5-1, 15 KOs) is no slouch. A southpaw, the Londoner has won three straight inside the distance since losing a split decision to Rocky Fielding. At age 30, he’s five years older than Akkawy and has far more experience, answering the bell as a pro for 187 rounds compared to only 84 for the Aussie.

Akkawy vs. Ryder won’t get the juices flowing in the United States where both are obscure. However, it’s an intriguing match. It will be interesting to see how the bookmakers price it.

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The Avila Perspective, Chap. 43: Welterweight Wars Coast to Coast and More

David A. Avila

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Granados

In a twisted development a couple of East Coast guys are headed to Los Angeles to battle while another pair of West Coast guys are headed to New York City.

Makes sense I guess.

Former two-division world champion Danny “Swift” Garcia of Philadelphia faces Adrian Granados of Chicago at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California on Saturday April 20. The PBC card will be televised by FOX.

Dignity Health is the new name attached to the complex formerly known as the StubHub Center and before that it was the Home Depot Center. Ironically, Dignity Health owns most of the cemeteries in Southern California.

Is that an omen?

Garcia (34-2, 20 KOs) is a counter-punching Puerto Rican who needs someone to fight that’s always on attack mode in order for him to shine. When he’s matched with another counter-puncher the crowd goes to sleep.

That’s where Chicago Mexican Granados (20-6-2, 14 KOs) fits in.

Granados (pictured) has never fought in a snoozer in his life. He probably kicked his way out when he was born. In fights against slow developers like Adrien Broner and Felix Diaz he made them fight for their lives. If this were ancient Roman times he would be fighting in the main event armed with a tooth pick against a lion. Blindfolded.

But he’s weary of being labeled as merely an entertaining fighter.

“I’m tired of it,” Granados, 29, said. “I want the title or I’m out of here.”

World titles are something Garcia knows about. He’s held the WBC and WBA super lightweight titles and the WBC welterweight title. In unification clash with Shawn Porter last September he lost by a razor close decision. He feels naked without a strap around his waist.

“I’m going to make a statement,” said Garcia about his pending battle with Granados. “I definitely want a rematch with Shawn Porter or Keith Thurman.”

Granados eyes Garcia with slight envy whenever they’re in the same room.

“I’m trying to cash in baby,” said Granados. “I just got to go in there and do my thing.”

Another interesting bout on the PBC card includes undefeated Brandon Figueroa (18-0, 13 KOs) a southpaw super bantamweight fighting Venezuela’s Yonfrez Parejo (22-3-1) for the interim WBA title. The actual titleholder is Los Angeles fighter Danny Roman who fights next week at the Inglewood Forum.

Other fighters of interest are Andy Ruiz, Alfredo Angulo, Omar Juarez and Carlos Balderas. It’s an extremely long card and begins at 3 p.m.

Friday is Thompson Boxing

Headlining a boxing card at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, California is featherweight Erick Ituarte (20-1-1) versus Jose Estrella (20-15-1) in a 10-round main event. Ituarte is the stablemate of WBA champion Danny Roman. Estrella hails from Tijuana and has fought some tough customers like Miguel Marriaga and Christopher Diaz.

The Thompson Boxing Promotions event also features a solid looking welterweight Richard Brewart (4-0) against Vincent Morales (2-2-2) in a four round bout. Another interesting fight showcases Uzbekistan’s Murodjon Akhmadaliev (5-0) a southpaw slugger trained by Joel and Antonio Diaz in Indio. The lefty faces former world title contender Carlos Carlson (23-5) in a super bantamweight clash.

Thompson Boxing always delivers solid boxing cards and you never know which new boxing jewel will be discovered by them. They have a 20 year history of finding outstanding talent. You can also watch it streamed on Thompson Boxing’s page on Facebook.com.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. For more information call (714) 935-0900.

New York Card

If you plan on staying home on Saturday night a solid fight card at Madison Square Garden features a welterweight world title fight between WBO titlist Terence Crawford and former two-division champion Amir Khan. It will be shown on ESPN pay-per-view at $59.95.

It’s a loaded card with Top Rank unfurling its best. Of course the best is Crawford who in my opinion is the top fighter pound for pound. And I was a late convert.

Nebraska’s Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs) is based in the Midwest and heads east to fight England’s Khan (33-4, 20 KOs) who trains in California. They’re fighting for the WBO title and it should be a very good fight.

Khan has always been a favorite of mine. He’s blessed with speed and agility and also has a lot of guts. Not just because he fought Saul “Canelo” Alvarez at middleweight, but because he’s a true prizefighter looking for the biggest fights in the world. He’s been criticized by his own countrymen for not fighting some of his fellow Brits, but Khan looks at everything globally, not nationally. He especially wants fights that Americans want to see. They want to see this fight.

“I wanted this fight because I wanted to fight the best. Terence Crawford presented the greatest challenge to me at this point in my career. Listen, the Kell Brook fight was there, but fighting Terence gives me the opportunity to show I am a pound-for-pound fighter,” said Khan.

Of course thousands of Brits will be flying across the Atlantic Ocean for a glimpse of this showdown. First because it’s New York, second because it’s boxing and Brits love boxing. Gotta love them Brits.

Crawford, like Khan, is blessed with speed and agility too. And he also has several ways to attack. He’s not a one-dimensional fighter. He’s like a jazz musician; he can take it wherever it needs to go. Whether its hip hop or improvisational he can easily slip into another tempo. That’s his magic.

“Amir Khan is undefeated as a welterweight and can’t be underestimated. He has great hand speed, movement, and some power as well,” said Crawford. “I want to showcase all of my talents in this fight.”

Keep your eyes open in this fight.

Other bouts on this high quality fight card:

Top Rank has a couple of their prospects jumping up to face contenders. First you have Shakur Stevenson (10-0) meeting former world title challenger Christopher Diaz (24-1) of Puerto Rico in a 10-round featherweight clash. If it were any other prospect I might say the kid is moving too fast. But Shakur has eye-popping talent.

Another prospect going against a contender is Brooklyn’s Teofimo Lopez (12-0) meeting Finland’s Edis Tatli (31-2, 10 KOs) in a lightweight match. Lopez, 21, already has fought in three 10-round fights and has the NABF and USBA lightweight belts. Tatli has the EBU lightweight belt. Whose belt means more in this fight?

Puerto Rico’s highly touted Felix Verdejo (24-1,16 KOs) lost a year ago to Mexico’s Ines Lozada Torres by knockout. Then he returned to win by knockout last November. Now he’s back against a tough customer in Bryan Vasquez. It’s not an easy fight for either fighter.

Verdejo was Top Rank’s golden child a couple of years ago and ran into some personal problems before running into Lozada’s fists. Now he has Vasquez, a slick fighting Costa Rican who arguably could have won a world title had he been given the decision after fighting Raymundo Beltran two years ago. Beltran won by majority decision that night in August 2017, then proceeded to win the WBO lightweight title against Paulus Moses. That could have been Vasquez’s title.

It’s a strong boxing card.

Lights Out

Next Thursday on April 25, former middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight, cruiserweight and heavyweight world champion James “Lights Out” Toney will be the honored guest at the Golden Boy Promotions boxing card at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, Calif.

Toney spent the last 25 years in Southern California where he first trained at the Wild Card Boxing gym in Hollywood. Over the years he became one of the most popular prizefighters by fans who loved his aggressive style and off-the-charts boxing skills. The Michigan native had more than 90 fights as a professional against some of the best to ever put on gloves.

Many boxing writers, including myself, consider Toney one of the best, if not the best prizefighter in the last 60 years. He’s beaten some of the best in the business and performed at a high level for decades in classic fights. Among the gems were his knockout wins against Michael Nunn, Tim Littles, Vassiliy Jirov, and Evander Holyfield.

Toney, 50, will be available to sign autographs and take photos with fans. Be sure to be there and meet the great multi-division champion.

One of the featured fights is Oscar Negrete (18-1-1) in a rematch against Joshua Franco (14-1-1) who fought to a draw last October. It was one of the best fights of the year. The NABF bantamweight title is the prize.

For tickets or information call (800) 827-2946.

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