“It’s the magic of risking everything for a dream that nobody sees but you”
-Million Dollar Baby
This piece is a sequel to an article that I wrote in March of 2017 titled, Million Dollar Ladies-The Resurgence Of Women’s Boxing, if you want the backstory, the article can be found here….- https://standing-8.com/2017/03/27/million-dollar-ladies-the-resurgence-of-womens-boxing/
If you’d rather just jump ahead,……..protect yourself at all times….
For many decades, as you listened to the chatter in major cities the world around, be it on rapid transit, at airports, or in pubs/bars, you’d hear it, conversation on the purest of sports, the sweet science. “Did you see that knockout?” one would say, “The knockout? What about that body shot and the beautiful boxing?” another would chime in.
In year’s past, the temporal lobe of an eavesdropper would immediately envision a male pugilist with red gloves hitting an adversary. Or, their minds eye may think more specifically to any number of current or past male champions landing an assault as described.
However; in 2019, it wouldn’t be a shock if said eavesdropper thought of a female fighter first when envisioning the combatant. Some of the best fighters in the game today are not only male..but female. Gender be damned.
The most astute boxing observers of the bunch will know what I’m talking about. If I was to reference Taylor’s relentless combination punching and sick skillset, Mayer’s excellent work behind the jab with disciplined movement and defense, Shields’ straight right, wicked left hook, and ferociousness, Hammer’s all around game, the constant relentless brutal pressure and counter punching of Serano, or the undisputed, undefeated Braekhus…you just know.
If you don’t know, you’ve been missing out on some of the best pugilists in the game today. These fighters are moving in on new territory. They are headlining cards and are the attraction. There is momentum with some huge fights on the horizon and the sky is the limit.
In no particular order, let’s take a deeper look at these skilled fighters.
Because she’ll be in action tonight, we’ll start first with Ireland’s Katie Taylor (12-0 5 KO). Already the WBA world lightweight champion to start 2018, Taylor had a heck of a year beginning in April as she captured the IBF title besting Victoria Bustos. All Taylor did the remaining eight months is defend her titles three times, setting up her first bout of 2019 against WBO titlist Rose Volante (14-0 8 KO).
Credit- @KatieTaylor Twitter
As Taylor told the Independent-
“Ever since I won my first world title as a pro my goal has been to unify the Lightweight titles so this is obviously a massive step towards that, “Volante is unbeaten so I’m expecting a tough fight but that’s exactly the kind of challenge I want. I think the better the opponent and the bigger the challenge, the better I will perform”
Credit- Matchroom Boxing
If she is successful, she will add the WBO strap and look for a unification fight against once beaten WBC champ, Delfine Persoon, who just defended her belt on March 9 with a TKO7 against Melissa St Vil.
“For now my focus is on Volante but of course after that fight I would love to have all the belts as soon as possible. Hopefully the Persoon fight can finally be made for the summer and then there are some other huge fights out there as well for the rest of my career.”
If all goes as planned, that fight is rumored to be on the undercard of Anthony Joshua v Jarrell Miller on June1. Rock hurled at glass ceiling…..
I’d be perfectly fine watching Taylor on a black and white TV, she is a throwback fighter. The hand speed, angles, body work, and forward attack. If I ever have the honor of covering one of her fights live, I’m going to wear a derby with “Press” inserted in the band as I bang away on the keys of my Smith Corona typewriter smoking a cigar.
Another interesting matchup for Taylor down the road is against Amanda Serrano (36-1-1 27 KO). Taylor beat her sister Cindy by shutout on all three judges scorecards last October, now, younger sis wants revenge.
What can you say about “The Real Deal” that hasn’t been said already? An unheard of seven weight world champion, she has simply dominated. You have to go back seven years to locate the one and only loss on her record and ten years for the draw.
In her last fight, Serrano didn’t let her opponent Eva Voraberger survive the first minute of the fight, stopping her in about thirty -five seconds. In true Serrano fashion she attacked from the opening bell moving forward as always and landed a wicked left hook to the body, which crumbled Voraberger…game, set, match. Oh, did I mention that Serrano dropped six weight classes to go after that seventh belt? Brutal.
Serrano would welcome the fight against Taylor but as she told DAZN, she’s looking to first knuckeup with “Raging Raja” (Amasheh)-
“I think seven is good and I will probably want to keep this one for a while and defend this against the so-called real champion Raja… maybe she won’t take the fight”
“If that fight comes, I hope she is ready for it, but right now I have other sights on my mind. But she better be ready for me.”
Serrano had began to navigate to MMA; however, after her promoter Lou DiBella signed a co-promoted deal with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing for a three fight deal that feeds exposure on DAZN, she is poised to stay for the moment.
As she told The Sporting News-
“Thanks to the platforms DAZN and Matchroom Boxing, they’re actually giving women a platform to fight on,”
“They’re paying the women what they deserve, so that’s exciting for me. I was just tired of the way [women’s] boxing was going. Now, it’s going up and even if I could continue to open doors for female fighters and make history, and have girls have someone to look up to, I’m happy to do that. But I don’t have much more in me in boxing.”
If a Taylor- Serrano match is made, buckle up. Rock cracks glass ceiling….
When you call yourself “The Greatest”, or “GWOAT” (Greatest Woman Of All Time), you are stepping into rarified air. That said, when your resume documents history as the first U.S. amateur boxer to win two Olympic Golds, the capturing of three middleweight world titles after only eight fights as a pro, and fighting on April 13th for a chance to unify the division in only your ninth fight?…. You might have a case for said acronym.
Referencing of course IBF/WBA/WBC World Middleweight Champ Claressa Shields (8-0 2KO), or T-Rex, as you will. A nickname that stuck when she first began the sport because of her short arms, and continuous punching.
Credit- Stephanie Trapp-Showtime
Shields is street. There are many definitions for the word; however, used here to reference, as the Urban Dictionary defines it, “The cold reality of day to day life and achieving” as in growing up in Flint, Michigan and achieving success, and “Someone who is ready to defend themselves at all times and jump on any opportunity to level up”…that’s Shields, always on point.
Like Taylor, Shields is a throwback of sorts. When I think of her training, I see an old hole in the wall gym, all business. Goof around here and get knocked out, or thrown out on your ass. You don’t play boxing here…. bring your A-Game every time out. Every second, every minute, be it sparring, on the heavy bag, or the speed bag. This is the stuff that forged her.
Shields probably possess the strongest Ring I.Q.. She is a student of the game and it shows in her approach. She can attack or sit back and box from the outside. It’s her call and whichever she chooses, her adversary would be wise to adjust their own game plan.
On April 13, she will face Christina Hammer (24-0 11 KO), the winner, a chance to become only the second woman in the four belt era to unify a division.
Said Shields at the first press conference for this monumental bout-
“This has been long overdue. I’m just glad that Hammer is here and the fight is set. She’s been at my fights before but I can’t wait to get inside the ring and show her I’m the real champion………..April 13 you’re going to see someone fold. I promise you, it will not be me. Make sure you all tune-in”
“I think for women’s boxing this is a true super fight that we’ve never gotten before. We’ve never had a fight like this in women’s boxing. It’s great to make this happen and us being from two parts of the world makes this fight even better.
“I want to make her quit. I don’t want her to just know I’m a good fighter, I want her to know I’m great.
“I’m looking forward to April 13. I want to show the world who I am….This is a big risk to come from Germany to the U.S., but I believe the best should fight the best and I did what I had to so that this could happen. This fight can be a game changer for our sport”
“This fight is the real deal. This is going to be a game changer for women’s boxing. I think we’re going to inspire a lot of female athletes who want to live their dream. It’s motivation for everyone…..I’ve had the title for a long time. I always push myself. This is the fight I wanted to show everyone who is the best. I will be the undisputed champion.”
“Shields is beatable……….I want to finish the job if I get the chance…….Anything can happen in boxing. I’m prepared to go the distance. Knockout is the goal but most importantly, I want to win.”
Credit- Stephanie Trapp-Showtime
Hammer has held a strap for nine years. It’s no coincidence. She simply knows how to use her physical attributes to execute her game plan. She uses her jab to perfection as she sets up her power behind it. She works the body and navigates the ring on her terms using some great footwork in the process. And beware, her timely sneaky uppercut is lethal as is her right cross.
Credit-Stephanie Trapp- Showtime
Yes, Hammer v. Shields fighting for the unified title is must see TV. Glass ceiling is shattered.
The only woman to ever unify a division? None other than The “First Lady” of boxing, undefeated and undisputed…..Cecilia Braekhus (35-0 9 KO). A champion for ten years, and a pioneer of sorts for those coming through the ranks now.
In 2018, Ring Magazine awarded Braekhus with their first ever women’s pound for pound ranking and championship belt. In addition, she became the first woman to be featured on HBO Boxing.
Braekhus’ footwork is no doubt the key to her success. She effortlessly moves in and out while picking her shots. It is at the core of everything she does. Very skilled in all aspects of the fight game, we need to see her more on the big stage. It is a shame that she has been this dominate and has not gotten mainstream exposure until recently. It’s not that she hasn’t been a star and on PPV, it’s just that it was mostly across the pond. Let’s hope that changes soon and we see much more of her. It has been rumored for awhile that a match against MMA legend Chris Cyborg is a possibility. No doubt a Mayweather-McGregor result….
Credit- Sporting News
It is rumored that Taylor and Braekhus may get together at some point. That should solve the problem.
No article would be complete without a rising star. One who has exhibited everything needed to become a champion but is on the cusp just waiting for their opportunity.
Enter Mikaela Mayer (10-0 4 KO). Top Rank has a hidden gem in this pugilist, and they knew that early on as she was the first woman signed by the promotional company to a multi-year deal.
Well, not so hidden now, as Top Rank has done a great job in getting her exposure on some high profile cards.
Mayer may be the purest boxer of the bunch. Her skillset is very solid and polished, she’s well schooled in the sweet science. Like Braekhus, her footwork is excellent as she sets up her arsenal. She uses her length well and fights tall working off of her active jab. Be it solid left hooks, straight or overhand rights, body work, or defense, she brings just about a complete package into the ring.
We’re looking forward to seeing Mayer get that title shot, and like her as the next big star.
While there are many more female fighters that are on the brink of greatness and are beginning to become regular names in boxing circles, I chose to profile the ones herein because they are on the doorstep of becoming household names, even to the casuals.
Just give me one FOY candidate out of the scheduled or rumored bouts mentioned above and women’s boxing can rise to another level and be sustained.
If that happens, the ceiling is shattered for good and long overdue.
Pay these ladies what they are worth and get them the exposure they deserve. They are not at any less risk then their male counterparts.
Just refer to them as a boxer.
Gender equality is a beautiful thing.
The time is now ladies……we see your dream!!