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State of Women’s Boxing 2015

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Layla McCarter has been one of the best, if not the best female boxer in the world, pound for pound. Yet, few boxing fans know who she is, outside of the hardcore fans of the sport.

Few experts would refute McCarter is at the top of the mountain when it comes to skills. She hasn’t lost a fight since 2007 when Melissa Hernandez pulled the trick. Since then, lightweight McCarter has remained undefeated and knocked out a junior middleweight champion in the process. In her last fight she defeated the very skillful Hernandez to avenge her last defeat.

But the world only knows about Norway’s Cecilia Braekhus and Belgium’s Delfine Persoon, who fight in Europe where female boxing enjoys a large following. Their promoters are able to give them large purses, much larger than any American female fighters see. They enjoy home-town fights against others in almost all of their fights.

Are they better than McCarter?

That’s the current state of affairs with female boxing as the best boxers are not necessarily the undefeated big money-makers in Europe or Latin America.

With the exodus of several top notch female fighters to mixed martial arts, women’s pro boxing saw a sudden shift at the top of the realm.

Gone to MMA are Holly Holm, Ana Julaton and Jessica Rakoczy, who were good athletes and well suited for MMA. A number of other boxers fled to MMA, where a large door has opened for female fighters. What remains is a strong, more- skilled flank of female prizefighters in the women’s boxing scene.

Amateur girls are finally finding an opening worldwide and many are expected to shine in the next Olympic games slated for Brazil in 2016. American girls are jockeying for position on the U.S. team that saw only three positions in 2012. The next Olympics will have more openings. Amateurs in the U.S. and other countries have been able to gather sponsors.

Yes, sponsors have found their way to amateur boxing, yet not professional boxing.

It’s a strange paradox.

Amateur girls like Mikaela Mayer, Claressa Shields, Queen Underwood, Marlen Esparza and others worldwide have sponsor backing. That’s tremendous. But professional boxers rarely have any sponsors.

Pro Female Boxing

For the last five years, not one American girl was featured on a televised fight card. Yet, Mexican girls were featured almost weekly on Spanish language television broadcast in the U.S. How was that not an indicator that female boxing has a large audience?

American Latinos have always supported live boxing and televised fight cards. It’s a major reason that networks like HBO, Showtime, Fox Sports 1, ESPN, NBC Sports Network and others are televising boxing. Latinos are almost maniacal in their appetite for boxing and have shown a healthy appetite for female boxing.

Need proof?

Just watch Spanish language television like Azteca television, which almost has a weekly dose of female boxing. They have brought Jackie Nava, Arely Mucino, Mariana Juarez and Ibeth Silva to U.S. living rooms, yet American girls who are their equals or better, such as Melinda Cooper, Celina Salazar and Crystal Morales have not been televised to an American audience.

“I find it hard to believe that Mexico, a country known for its machismo, respects the sport of female boxing more than the United States, which is considered the land of opportunity,” said Felipe Leon, boxing writer for Fightnews.com.

No opportunities on televised fight cards have been offered by television networks nor have promoters of men’s boxing like Top Rank, Main Events or Golden Boy Promotions offered any openings to female bouts on their cards.

Women’s Boxing convention

Recently, in Las Vegas, the WBC held a convention and women’s boxing was a major topic on the weeklong agenda. The WBC, which is based in Mexico City, has supported female boxing for an entire decade. But promoters in the U.S. have not opened any doors for the women.

“I sincerely hope that Oscar De La Hoya comes through on his promise that he made at the WBC female convention of doing something with women’s boxing in the U.S., perhaps in 2015,” said Leon, who lives in Tijuana and covers boxing on both sides of the border. “The exposure and credibility it would gain with Golden Boy Promotions featuring at least one female fight on their cards will be unmeasurable.”

Sue Fox, a former pro boxer and the owner of WBAN.com, which covers female boxing, said television has been a major obstacle for women’s boxing in this country only.

“Without media exposure it is difficult to build fan bases,” said Fox, who added that women are also finding it hard to get on fight cards. “Without women being featured on televised cards fans don’t know they exist.”

Las Vegas prizefighter McCarter finds it ironic that she lives and trains in the “fight capital of the world” yet cannot find a spot on a big fight card in her hometown.

“They can’t say that men’s boxing is more popular. Some of these male fighters can’t even sell out a small show, but they are included in these big pay-per-view fight cards,” said McCarter. “A lot of these men boxers are boring. I can’t see why they are on the fight cards. Nobody wants to see them.”

McCarter has been a proven ticket seller in Las Vegas but it’s the minimal purses that have kept her from being able to have a solid career.

“I wish we could be able to simply train and fight like the men,” said McCarter, 35, who has been fighting professionally since 1998 and has fought in 58 pro bouts. “Women’s boxing is still suffering. Our sport needs the promoters who have money and networks to support women’s boxing as they do for the men. Put us on where we can be seen and pay us closer to what we deserve. That will make all the difference.”

McCarter’s not alone when it comes to wishing women’s boxing could get a helping hand.

Al Applerose, a director of a female boxing promotion company based in Southern California called Arqangel Promotions, said that for decades women’s boxing has worked in the shadows.

“Even though it’s very legit, it needs to be legitimized and accepted by the boxing fan (sports audience) population,” said Applerose whose company handles Melinda Cooper, Crystal Morales and Celina Salazar among others. “In this day and age TV is the measure of legitimization and acceptance. Women’s boxing needs that platform so the sports audience can appreciate it.”

In 2014 the WBC held a women’s convention where Mauricio Sulaiman, the president of the Mexico-based sanctioning organization, gave his promise to aid the female side of the sport.

“I think women’s boxing has been better in a worldwide sense,” said Leon, who consistently follows and reports on female boxing. “Unfortunately it has not gotten the same traction in the United States. I think the talent pool right now in the United States is at an all-time high with exciting potential match ups throughout many divisions.”

James Pena, trainer for Melinda Cooper, said he’s surprised that American television has not seen the potential that other countries have seen.

“I don’t know what promoters or television networks are thinking,” said Pena, who lives in Las Vegas. “Women’s boxing can’t miss but these people don’t see it. They’re basically afraid of a sure thing. It’s their loss.”

Growth continues

The female boxing world has more than 1,200 professionals who work out daily in gyms in Tokyo, Japan to Las Vegas, Nevada. Almost every continent has female prizefighters toiling in gyms alongside their male counterparts. Female boxers have been around for more than 40 years, yet they still fly under the radar.

McCarter, who is arguably the best of all female boxers, turns 36 in April and has been breaking her head against the wall of criticism toward female boxing her entire career.

One day, a man about 6’1” and 220 pounds entered her gym and saw her training. He claimed he was a former military commando with martial arts training and no women could last a round with him. McCarter entered the boxing ring against him and promptly knocked him down within 20 seconds. He took off the gloves and left the gym.

Other female boxers have similar stories. But promoters and TV networks continue to ignore the women and those fans that follow them. Female boxing stands ready for a breakout year.

“It grew even more so in Mexico and in other parts of the world like Europe and Japan with women again being put front and center on many televised main events. We even had the first ever all-women convention in September,” said Leon, whose hometown of Tijuana has groomed two world champion females in Nava and Kenia Enriquez.

Will 2015 be the year?

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Saul Sanchez Wins in Ontario, CA

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ONTARIO, CA- Saul Sanchez remained undefeated after a tumultuous battle against Mexico’s Fernando Saavedra to win by majority decision to the dismay of a small crowd on Friday.

In a battle of bantamweights at the Doubletree Hotel, it was Pacoima’s Sanchez (11-0, 6 KOs) who started quicker but San Luis Potosi’s Saavedra (7-6, 3 KOs) closed the gap in the latter half of the fight in front of a boisterous crowd of maybe 400 fans.

Sanchez nearly floored Saavedra in the first 20 seconds of the fight when a three-punch combination had the Mexican fighter wobbled. It spurred Sanchez to go on the attack, ultimately leading to a toe-to-toe battle.

The quicker hands and feet of Sanchez proved troubling for Saavedra, who needed the Southern Californian to stand still. That seldom happened in the first four rounds.

But though neither boxer seemed to tire, Sanchez began getting trapped against the ropes and allowing Saavedra to connect with powerful blows. The last three rounds were especially close and Sanchez was able to slip more blows than Saavedra. But each never ready to quit.

After eight bantamweight rounds, two judges scored it 77-75 for Sanchez and one had it 76-76 a draw. Sanchez was deemed the winner by majority decision.

Many fans were angry by the decision.

Other bouts

Corona’s Louie Lopez (5-0, 3 KOs) remained undefeated with a solid performance over Bakersfield’s Ray Cervera (0-2), a resilient super welterweight. Lopez was able to use his quick left hooks to score in every round but Cervera had a good chin and was able to counter with rights. No knockdowns were scored in the four round fight and all three judges scored the fight 40-36.

Oscar Torrez (3-0, 1 KO) knocked down Richard Soto (0-1) in the last round to assure a victory by unanimous decision in an entertaining heavyweight fight. Torrez fights out of Rialto, CA and is trained by Henry Ramirez who also trains Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola. The two heavyweights seemed evenly matched for the first two rounds, with Soto having his best round in the second when he continually landed one-two combinations with good effect. But Torrez resumed control of the fight in the third by using the jab, then mixing up his attack. In the fourth round, Torrez unleashed a 10-punch barrage that dropped Soto in the corner. The fighter from Northern California got up and survived the round but was unable to turn things around. Two judges scored it 39-36 and another had it 40-35, all for Torrez.

Anthony Franco (3-1-1) took time to warm up before scoring a knockdown and defeating Kansas fighter Antonio L. Hernandez (1-4) by decision after four rounds in a super welterweight contest. In the third round, Franco slipped under a left by Hernandez who tripped and when he turned was met by a perfect left that knocked down the Kansas boxer. Though he wasn’t hurt, it changed the complexion of a close fight in favor of Franco who lives in Redlands, CA. All three judges scored it for Franco 38-35, 39-36, 38-37.

Tijuana’s Rafael Rivera (26-2-2, 17 KOs) ripped into Guanajuato’s Jose Ramos (11-15-1, 8 KOs) with a savage attack to win by knockout in the first round. A barrage of blows sent Ramos backward dangling over the ropes. Referee Ray Corona ruled it a knockdown and let the fight continue. Rivera resumed the attack and blistered the taller Ramos with blinding punches forcing the fight to be stopped at 1:51 of the first round. It was Rivera’s first fight since losing to Joet Gonzalez by split decision last July in Los Angeles.

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Pacquiao-Broner: A Perfect Fight for Pacquiao and the Good Guy Wins

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Various sites are reporting that eight division titlist Manny Pacquiao 60-7-2 (39) will meet four division title winner Adrien Broner 33-3-1 (24) in December or January with Manny’s WBA regular welterweight title on the line. The fight hasn’t been confirmed yet but here’s how you know it’ll happen, and that is the fight makes dollars and sense for the super-star involved and that’s Manny Pacquiao.

Pacquiao signed with adviser/promoter Al Haymon – with the hope of getting a rematch with Floyd Mayweather in 2019. Haymon is tied to Mayweather and Broner and most of the top welterweights in the sport – including world champions Errol Spence, Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter. Manny lost a unanimous decision to Mayweather in May of 2015 and has longed for a rematch ever since. And ironically, neither Mayweather nor Pacquiao want any parts of taking on a young gun boxer in his prime. Both Terence Crawford, the WBO title holder, and Errol Spence, the IBF titlist, would take apart and embarrass both of them and there’s a sound case to make that both would’ve been okay tangling with Floyd and Manny even during their prime.

However, Mayweather and Pacquiao are businessman first and fighters second at this time and that’s been the case for quite a while. Manny only has interest in facing Mayweather again because he seeks revenge and Floyd will be 42 and coming off a long period of being inactive by the time they face off. As for Mayweather, he’d rather partake in big money fiascos where he can continue to gouge the public in WWE gimmicks against elite MMA fighters like Conor McGregor, his last opponent, or McGregor’s recent conqueror Khabid Nurmagomedov.

The only real boxer Floyd would entertain fighting is Pacquiao, who at this stage is only a moderate threat to Floyd because Mayweather hasn’t been in the gym much and has been preoccupied with spending his money. That and Pacquiao has a style that Floyd knows he can handle and Manny holds a version of the welterweight title. Granted, Floyd would probably make more money facing Nurmagomedov and Pacquiao is more or less his plan B if Manny gets by Broner. The problem with Mayweather facing Nurmagomedov is that Nurmagodev’s MMA fights don’t attract big interest and just maybe after the McGregor farce, both boxing and MMA fans are fed up with Mayweather’s faux fights and rip-offs – and with him then rubbing it in their faces by bragging how much money he made. So perhaps fans have wised up and will only consider paying to see Floyd fight another boxer – therefore Pacquiao becomes relevant to him.

With it no longer a secret that Mayweather and Pacquiao are only interested in robbing the public, enter Adrien Broner. If there’s another fighter who has been rewarded with big fights after posting underwhelming performances every time he has faced an upper-tier fighter, I don’t know of him. Broner is 3-2-1 in his last six bouts, having faced two championship caliber opponents in Shawn Porter and Mikey Garcia. He lost on the judges’ cards by a collective 16 points versus Porter and 14 against Garcia….in other words he didn’t compete and after the first third of those fights you could’ve turned to something else and you wouldn’t have missed a thing…other than Broner scoring a knockdown over a coasting and careless Porter in the 12th round.

Broner, 29, is a highly skilled boxer, and when he fights he shows flashes of what he could’ve been but never was. Adrien’s problem is he has a low boxing IQ and never cared to expand it. He’s let his weight balloon up and he’s lazy. Actually, Broner doesn’t like to fight and does it because he’s pretty good at it and he likes the notoriety it brings him. Other than that, he’s a contented loser and that makes him perfect for an aging Pacquiao.

When they get in the ring Manny can count on Broner fighting no more than 30 seconds per round and posing and loafing for the remaining 2:30. Adrien will talk up a great fight, saying he knows time is running out and he needs a sensational showing, but once again his words won’t translate into deeds…they never do. Pacquiao, knowing that a potential Mayweather rematch hinges on how he looks, will show up prepared and ready for battle. Manny has been around the block a few times and knows nothing will escalate the interest in another fight with Mayweather like a good showing and perhaps him being the first to stop Broner inside the distance.

Hopefully boxing fans won’t be asked to shell out PPV dollars to watch Pacquiao vs. Broner. But it’s boxing, so nothing should come as a surprise. The only given here is that Broner doesn’t hold any advantage over Pacquiao in size or skill, which isn’t normally the case with Manny. Moreover, he’s facing a fighter who will fold and break the first-time things get tough, and if we know one thing about Pacquiao it’s that he doesn’t make it easy for anybody. And I expect him to feed off of Broner’s weak constitution as the fight progresses. In addition to that this is the perfect good guy versus bad guy match up.

The one thing that might add intrigue to Pacquiao-Broner is that Broner is an easy guy to root against and a ton of fans would love to see nice guy Manny Pacquiao beat him up and humiliate him. And if the fight comes to fruition, count on that being how it unfolds. Yes, Pacquiao fights the perfect guy in order to set up a rematch with Mayweather and Broner will exit the ring a loser once again, only with a little more money to flush down the toilet.

Frank Lotierzo can be reached at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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Irish Jason Quigley Keeps NABF Title at Fantasy Springs

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INDIO, Calif.- Jason Quigley returned to fight in Southern California after nearly two years away and found it tough going in defeating Mexico’s veteran Freddie Hernandez by unanimous decision to retain the NABF middleweight title on Thursday.

Nearly every round was contentious.

Quigley (15-0, 11 KOs) had decided to train in England after spending several years in Southern California. Though he beat Hernandez (34-10, 22 KOs) he must have forgot how to fight inside as that’s where the troubles began at Fantasy Springs Casino. The fight was televised on ESPN.

After spending the first several rounds picking apart 39-year-old Hernandez from the outside, when the Mexican fighter crowded Quigley, the Irish fighter found it difficult to maintain his punch advantage.

Hernandez used his crafty inside work to both score and muffle the punches incoming from Quigley. In the sixth and seventh round the Mexican fighter began mounting considerable damage on his foes’ face. Whether it was weariness or some other factor, Hernandez was scoring big with well-placed left hooks and lead rights.

The crowd began shouting “Fred-die, Fred-die” as the veteran landed flush blows. A look of concern crossed Quigley’s face.

Both fighters looked tired by the ninth round, but the older fighter Hernandez somehow seemed fresher especially while fighting on the inside. Then Quigley began separating himself and scoring with pot shots. That seemed to stop the rushes of Hernandez.

In the final round Quigley’s fans began shouting his name and the Irish fighter though weary managed to fire some combinations while on the move. Both fighters were exhausted when the final bell rang.

One judge scored it 99-91, the other two had it 98-92 all for Quigley.

“I feel great, I knew coming in this was a big test for me,” said Quigley.

Yes it was.

Gomez

New York’s Eddie Gomez (22-3, 12 KOs) was supposed to be joined with his dad for the fight against Japan’s Shoki Sakai (22-9-2, 12 KOs) in Indio, but unexpectedly his father passed away this past weekend. The fight still went on.

Gomez won every round against the game Sakai who was trained by Mexico’s famed Nacho Beristain. The welterweight Gomez from the Bronx used his speed and movement to keep away from Sakai’s big blows. After eight rounds all three judges saw it 80-72 for Gomez.

“It was very hard. He (father) was supposed to come out Saturday night. He took a week off of work. He was supposed to fly out and Saturday was the day he had died,” said Gomez after the fight. “I got to bite down. He was in camp with me. He had his input. He would have been proud today. I love you pops.”

Other bouts

Coachella’s Rommell Caballero (4-0, 3 KOs) floored Hugo Padron twice to win by knockout at 1:25 of the first round in a super featherweight match. Caballero, the 19-year-old brother of former super bantamweight champion Randy Caballero, connected with a counter left hook during an initial exchange that sent Pardo to the floor. He got up tentatively and was met with a crisp right through the gloves for a second knockdown. Referee Tom Taylor took a look at Pardo and waved the fight over.

“My first fight on ESPN I just want to thank everybody. All I’m doing is training. I’m getting ready and staying sharp,” said Caballero who was a former sparring partner for Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez. “Training with him (Gonzalez) is one of the greatest experiences I ever had.”

After losing most every round Ray Perez (24-10, 8 KOs) made a stand and connected with an overhand left that staggered Chimpa Gonzalez (19-3, 15 KOs) and then the Filipino fired another overhand left through the guard and down went Gonzalez. Though he beat the count, Gonzalez seemed light headed and when the fight resumed Perez connected with more blows and the fight was called at 2:15 of the seventh round. Perez was deemed the winner by knockout.

It was a rematch of a fight that took place last February at the same venue. In that contest Perez won by unanimous decision.

Gonzalez trained with Joel and Antonio Diaz in Indio for this match. And though the lanky lightweight was far ahead on the score cards, he seldom moved his head and paid for it. Before that, he was ahead by attacking the body of Perez who protected his body for the last three rounds. But once Gonzalez slowed Perez revved up his attack and finished Gonzalez.

In a featherweight clash Edgar Ortega survived a first round knockdown against Recky Dulay (11-4, 8 KOs) and rallied to win by unanimous decision after six rounds by scores 57-56, and 58-55 twice.

Southpaw lightweight Angel Ruiz (11-0, 8 KOs) knocked out Dominican Republic’s Jonathan Fortuna (8-3) at 1:40 of the fourth round. Ruiz, 21, fights out of Tijuana, Mexico.

Super featherweight Elnur Abduraimov (2-0) knocked out Giovannie Gonzalez (5-3) at 2:38 of the second round. Abduraimov, 24, is originally from Uzbekistan.

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