Elena “Baby Doll” Reid finally captured the flyweight world title with a unanimous decision over Mary “The Heat” Ortega.
“I hope this opens doors,” said Reid of her world title. “I don’t want to just be a world champion nobody knows, I want people to know I’m a world champion.”
Twice Reid had fought for the flyweight world title and both fights took place in Germany. But the Las Vegas resident fell just short and returned home from the long trip without the title belt. Not this time.
“It was one of the greatest fights in female boxing history,” said Ken Weiss, one of the promoters of the event that took place Thursday, Aug. 31 in Lake Tahoe. “The crowd went crazy.”
Reid used an aggressive attack to wear down Ortega and after 10 rounds the judges scored it 98-92 twice and 97-93 for Reid.
“We prepared for this fight to be more of a boxing match,” said Chris Ben, who trains Reid. “Most people know Elena is strong, but they forget she has boxing skills too.”
Since turning professional at 18, fresh out of high school in Phoenix, Arizona, Reid has accumulated a large fan base with her aggressive style and cheerleader personality. Winning the world title has always been a goal.
“I love challenges,” says Reid, 24, who began her pro career in Coachella and held a part-time job as a waitress in a Palm Springs restaurant. “Competitive sports always appealed to me.”
After feeling a change of scenery was needed, Reid packed up and moved to Las Vegas where more female prizefighters were living.
“In Palm Springs there wasn’t many girls I could spar with,” Reid (18-3-5) said. “In Las Vegas there were a lot more women fighters.”
Within her first four professional contests, she fought two future world champions in Yvonne Caples and Layla McCarter. It was experience under fire.
Deeply religious, the Filipina prizefighter was first trained by former world champion Cornelius Boza-Edwards, famous for his ring wars with Southern California’s Bobby Chacon during the 1980s. Under his tutelage, Reid began to improve.
For five years Reid did not lose a bout until last year when she faced a fast-moving Alicia Ashley in Laughlin, Nevada. A year earlier in 2004 she fought to a draw with Germany’s legendary Regina Halmich. Many felt Reid won.
Last summer Reid traveled to fight Halmich for the world title in Germany again, this time she was tagged with a loss.
“Nothing is bigger than a fight with Regina,” said Ben, who took over training Reid three years ago. “This was just another rodeo for Elena.”
Against Ortega, the plan was for the southpaw Reid to forget her left hand and work mostly the right.
“We used right hooks and right uppercuts,” Ben said. “We thought Mary Ortega would tire and fade but she never did. We underestimated her.”
Reid’s natural strength allowed her to win an inside fight and win over the judges.
“Elena is just naturally strong,” Ben said. “But Mary Ortega is a fantastic fighter.”
Now, after six years as a professional prizefighter, Reid hopes winning the world title takes her even further.
“My career has been very frustrating,” says Reid, adding that it’s also true for almost every female pro boxer. “Though we don’t get paid much, I have to be happy I had the opportunity. Women will get what they deserve in the future.”
During the last three years it’s been difficult for Reid to find opponents. In the last 12 months three bouts were canceled.
“It’s kind of disturbing that nobody wants to fight me,” said Reid, who also attends University of Nevada at Las Vegas where she studies marketing. “I can’t understand why someone would become a boxer and not want to fight the best.”
Reid plans to return to the ring soon and hopefully fight on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao’s world title defense against Erik Morales on November 18.
“It would be perfect because Manny is Filipino and so am I,” said Reid. “I started training again yesterday.”