The center of women’s boxing has shifted to Europe with the most lucrative bouts occurring in places like Germany, France and Bosnia. But despite the struggles of the American female fighter to gain popularity, a number of the best fighters remain in this country.
Just as with their male counterparts, not all female boxers are exciting, but in most instances the women fight at a faster pace because of the two-minute rounds.
Here is a list of the best female fighters that I’ve seen in the ring or on television that you probably don’t know about. If you like women’s boxing these are prizefighters you should watch if they’re fighting on a boxing card near you.
Hopefully, some promoters can take a look at this list to add to one of their shows. It won’t cost much and you’ll be attracting a different fan. Boxing fans who follow female prizefighting are willing to travel more than 300 miles to watch female boxing.
Here’s my list in alphabetical order:
Jennifer Barber (8-1, 4 KOs) – Barber, 26, fights out of Los Angeles and is a classic boxer with power. She uses her height and jab to punish opponents. She recently fought in France where she lost by decision. No surprise there. When an American fighter goes to Europe, you better knock them out or down a few times. Otherwise you’re coming home with an L. Barber is talented nonetheless.
Carly Batey (4-4-2) – Batey, 28, is a former amateur star out of San Diego. Whenever she fights it's fast-paced and toe-to-toe. Don’t go by her record. She’s faced good fighters and always gives a good account of herself.
Terri Blair (10-13-2, 6 KOs) – Blair, 33, has a deceiving record too. She captured the IBA lightweight title by stopping Sumya Anani twice in two fights. That’s a tremendous feat considering that Anani couldn’t beg somebody to fight her. She was the most feared female fighter at the time but Blair stopped her twice. Blair doesn’t play around. She fires bombs.
Lisa Brown (15-3-3, 4 KOs) – Brown, 37, has a slick counter-punching style. The Canadian is the current junior featherweight champion. It seems every fight she’s in turns into a life or death battle that’s difficult to determine who wins. But she will not quit even when tagged on the chin.
Melinda Cooper (19-0, 11 KOs) – The petite Cooper, 23, is a former flyweight world champion and wants to add a couple of more world titles. She’s one of the few electrifying boxers who light up an arena once the bell rings. Cooper has blazing speed and heavy hands. She’s one of the few women who possesses knockout power.
Stephanie Dobbs (25-26-4, 14 KOs) – Dobbs, 28, has proven she will fight anywhere against anybody between featherweight and minimumweight. With 55 pro fights under her belt, she’s one of the most experienced prizefighters in the country. She’s a wee little Oklahoma girl with a big heart.
Hollie Dunaway (21-7-1, 10 KOs) – Dunaway, 24, has improved greatly since beginning in 2003. The junior flyweight now fights out of Las Vegas. She’s a strong fighter who boxes smartly in the ring. She’s about to fight in Korea in a few weeks.
Jeannine Garside (7-3-1, 3 KOs) – Garside, 30, will fight anybody at any time. The Canadian boxer is always in brutal battles. Her manager Jackie Kallen said her loss to Bosnian boxer Irma Balijagic-Adler for the WIBA featherweight title by split-decision in that fighter’s country was a travesty. But not unusual. Garside has three losses in a row but all to top tier fighters. She’s a must if you like action.
Chevelle Hallback (27-5-2, 11 KOs) – Hallback, 37, is probably the most exciting female boxer in the world. Her fights are always considered for Fight of the Year. In 2008, her fight with Garside was a brutal affair with Hallback’s power proving the difference. Hallback was in another Fight of the Year in 2007 when she fought Blair. She shows no signs of slowing down.
Melissa Hernandez (9-1-2, 3 KOs) – Hernandez, 28, is one of the slickest boxers in the world. The Bronx fighter is the current featherweight world champion and has the guts to match the skills. The Puerto Rican boxer will fight anybody. Some of the male fighters say they’ve seen her knock down guys in sparring sessions. Look out.
Holly Holm (22-1-3, 6 KOs) – Holm, 27, is a very athletic boxer who uses speed and agility to pummel her opponents. The New Mexico redhead boxer is the welterweight world champion. For several years she mostly fought in her home state where questionable decisions are common. But during the past two years Holm has ventured to other states and proved she’s ready for any challenge. A win and draw against Mary Jo Sanders has given her big time credibility.
Kelsey Jeffries (41-9-1, 4 KOs) – Jeffries, 33, has been boxing for quite a while. She has great ring skills and endurance. Jeffries fights out of Northern California and has no problems fighting as long as she gets to fight. One of the masters of the craft.
Mariana Juarez (18-5-3, 9 KOs) – Juarez, 28, currently fights out of Mexico City. Now fighting at flyweight, she plans to move back to California. That’s good news for boxing. She does things in the ring that are hard to teach. Only real skilled boxers can do what she does in the ring. Plus, she’s willing to fight anybody.
Ana Julaton (4-1-1) – Julaton, 27, proved she doesn’t want to dawdle. The Bay area fighter has bigger plans for more fights in 2009. Her loss to Domingo Oliva was not an embarrassment. Every round was competitive and in the end it was experience that prevailed. But Julaton doesn’t want easy matches. She’s going for the prize as quickly as possible. Her fans will follow her anywhere.
Belinda Laracuente (23-24-3, 9 KOs) – Laracuente, 29, has fought seemingly every top prizefighter in the world. It seems like yesterday when she fought Christy Martin in front of more than 12,000 fans. Though very skillful, she relies on counter-punching too much. Most of her losses could have been wins. But fans love her bravado, win or lose.
Rhonda Luna (13-1-1) – Luna, 30, returned to boxing after attending graduate school in San Francisco. She wants another shot at a world title. The brawler recently pulled out a close decision after a long layoff. She’s ready to fight for a world title soon.
Layla McCarter (31-13-5, 7 KOs) – McCarter, 29, is a lightweight world titleholder. She may be unifying the titles this year against Ann Saccurato. The only way to describe McCarter is to compare her to James Toney. She’s got skills and know-how inside the ropes. Her fight against Hallback five years ago is one of the greatest female fights of all time.
Carina Moreno (20-1, 6 KOs) – Moreno, 27, has been blowing by opponents the past three years. She defends her world title next month in Lemoore, California. Too bad there are only a few women in her weight class that can run with her. Maybe it's time for Moreno to head for Europe or Asia?
Dominga Olivo (7-4-1) – Olivo, 37, captured her first title last year. The New Yorker has plans to add a world title in 2009. Her fight against Ana Julaton was a showcase of women’s boxing. Too bad it wasn’t televised nationwide. Look for Olivo to make big strides in 2009.
Elizabeth Quevedo (1-0, 1 KO) – Quevedo, 24, fights out of Los Angeles and could probably beat any junior welter in the world today. She just can’t seem to get a fight. The problem is she won four U.S. National titles in four successive years and that probably scares away the competition. Just get her several fights to shake out the rust and she could fight for a world title within a year. She’s that good.
Elena Reid (19-4-6, 5 KOs) – Reid, 27, now fights out of Phoenix, Arizona. She currently holds a flyweight world title. She is one of the more experienced boxers in the world. Despite her good looks, Reid loves to fight and will jump in the ring against any body in her weight class. But she needs a decent payday for her sacrifice. She’s been fighting for peanuts. Promoters take advantage of her good nature.
Wendy Rodriguez (19-4-3, 3 KOs) – Rodriguez, 30, injured her shoulder and has not fought since this past summer. Plans for a rematch with Carina Moreno are on hold. Inside the ropes, Rodriguez is a canny boxer who can fight inside or out. She’s the current IFBA and WIBA minimumweight world titleholder and one of the top fighters in any weight class.
Ann Saccurato (14-3-2, 6 KOs) – Saccurato, 31, is a pressure fighter out of upstate New York. Her bout against Holly Holm proved she can give anybody trouble. She’s close to a fight with Las Vegas wiz Layla McCarter in the spring. It should be fireworks.
Mary Jo Sanders (25-1-1, 8 KOs) – Sanders, 34, got tired of ho hum wins and went after the glory in two fights with Holly Holm. A loss didn’t deter her so they fought again to a draw a couple of months ago. Sanders is a strong fighter who always moves forward and has a lot of fighting spirit.
Melissa Shaffer (10-7, 5 KOs) – Shaffer, 30, is a southpaw from Van Buren, Arkansas who takes no nonsense in the ring. She displays good skills, a killer instinct and good power in her fists. Never boring.
Jeri Sitzes (14-8-1, 6 KOs) – Sitzes, 29, is a former kick boxer from Missouri who ventured into pro boxing. It’s a good thing. She gives everybody a tough time. The first time I saw Sitzes she was banging with Melinda Cooper in a hell of a fight. All of her featherweight fights are compelling.
Kaliesha West (10-1, 2 KOs) – West, 20, has an aggressive and pleasing style that attracts boxing fans wherever she fights. A world title bid could come this year for the Moreno Valley boxer. West lost her first fight in Northern California a few months ago. No shame in a loss. It only proves she’s willing to fight anywhere against anybody. West aims to please and has the talent to excite fans.
Here’s a list of 15 female prizefighters I’d like to see one day:
Crystal Delgado (7-0) of Houston, Sandy Tsagouris (9-1) from Toronto, Jackie Nava (19-2-2) from Tijuana, Marcela Acuna (31-5) of Argentina, Vanessa Juarez (9-0) of Fort Worth, Ava Knight (5-0-2) of Northern California, Zulina Munoz (19-1) from Mexico City, Ana Marie Torres (16-3-2) of Mexico City, Susi Kentikian (23-0) of Germany, Jelena Mrdjenovich (23-3-1) of Canada, Melissa Fiorentino (17-2) of Rhode Island, Franchesca Alcanter (18-8-1) of Missouri, Maureen Shea (13-0) of New York City, Chika Nakamura (8-0) from L.A., and Ana Pascal (11-1) of Panama.