Flyweight world champion Elena “Baby Doll” Reid has the seven-year itch and she plans to scratch it with a win over Korea’s Shin Hee Choi (8-1, 4 KOs) for the IFBA flyweight title at the Pechanga Resort and Casino on Monday, July 2.
When Reid’s challenges Choi for her version of the flyweight title, boxing fans will get an opportunity to see why she’s become one of the greatest attractions in female boxing.
It was solely Reid’s superior strength and flashing beauty that attracted fight fans when she first emerged on the professional boxing scene seven years ago. Her name would pop up on Google more times than any other female boxer.
Inside the ring, her natural power enabled the petite Arizona native to overcome boxing deficiencies against bigger or faster foes. But she wasn’t satisfied with winning most of the time. Reid wants to dominate.
“Ever since I was young I always tried to be the best at whatever I did,” said Reid (18-3-5, 5 KOs), who holds the WIBA flyweight title that will not be at risk against Choi. “I love challenges.”
When Reid first entered boxing she fought as a small featherweight and found herself in the ring against the likes of Layla McCarter, Terri Cruz and Lakeysha Williams who were taller and naturally stronger. Though she did fairly well, she was too small to deal with the bigger fighters.
A fight with Mexico’s Mariana Juarez that was televised in 2003 proved to be the igniting moment where she discovered strength doesn’t always win. The rousing fight had the crowd roaring and ended in a draw. Both fighters refused to back up and each had moments in the six round-bout that took place in Phoenix.
“I was looking at that tape and I looked so different from the fighter I am today,” said Reid, 25, by telephone. “It’s hard to believe that fight took place four years ago. It’s hard to believe I’ve already been fighting this long.”
Switching trainers helped Reid realize that she needed to drop down in weight and work on her fighting technique. Slowly the changes began to adhere and the raw strength she possessed began to be supplemented with boxing skills.
“Elena is a lot more polished and has stronger fundamentals now,” said Vaia Zaganas, a former stable mate and a retired mini-flyweight world champion. “She used to just power through people. Now she has skills and power.”
Zaganas said Reid’s trainer Chris Benn changed her diet and worked on her balance and timing.
“Elena is super dedicated,” said Zaganas.
Korea’s Choi is defending the IFBA title for the third time since capturing the belt against Maribel Zurita in a match that took place in Korea two years ago. Choi is three inches taller than Reid.
“Koreans usually come straight forward and are very active,” said Zaganas who fought in numerous international competitions as an amateur star. “Elena’s style fits with fighters who are easy to hit.”
In the past three years Reid has slowly transformed from a slugger to a boxer-puncher. The new boxing technique was one of the factors that enabled her to gain a draw against Europe’s boxing great Regina Halmich.
When Reid was contacted by Halmich’s promoters in 2004, the Filipina boxer had just fought a couple of draws and managed one win. Halmich, who is an immense attraction in her country, accepted the fight never knowing what kind of opponent was arriving.
The colorful and attractive Reid immediately captivated the German press with her smiles and photogenic face. Little did they know that she could also truly fight.
In front of a largely pro-Halmich crowd at Karlsruhe, Germany, Reid battered and powered her way through the legend with her southpaw stance and willingness to force the German backwards. Though it was a one-sided affair, Reid was sadly given a draw. The German crowds booed. It was the closest Halmich came to losing in 10 years.
A year later, in a different German city, Reid arrived once again to face Halmich. This time the German fighter did not try to match power with power. Instead she used effective counter-punching and convinced the judges in a close 10-round decision.
No matter. Reid had made her point and was universally recognized as one of the best flyweights in the world.
“She really has my respect,” said Kaliesha West, 19, a young Zephyr who boxed an exhibition match with Reid last year. “She’s very versatile. She can be a boxer or a be a puncher.”
Though Reid captured the WIBA flyweight title against Mary Ortega last year, she’s really on a mission to showcase more than her boxing skills.
“It’s my goal to show boxing fans how good women’s boxing can be,” said Reid who is one of the most popular female fighters today. “I love my fans.”
Featherweight title fight
IFBA featherweight titleholder Kelsey Jeffries defends her title against South Carolina’s Donna Biggers in the semi-main event at Pechanga Resort and Casino.
Jeffries recently won a close split-decision over local fighter Rhonda Luna. Biggers lost to Layla McCarter earlier in the year.
For tickets or information call (888) 732-4264.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV