LOS ANGELES -Kaliesha ?Wild? West met a determined and revamped Angel Gladney (6-3-2, 5 KOs) who fought a strategic fight, but by the seventh round even that wasn?t enough to stop the Californian who knocked her out in the seventh to win the vacant WBO bantamweight world title on Saturday.
?It feels so good after all the hard work, sacrifice, starving and missing out on life, I?m so thankful,? said West.
West (13-1-2, 4 KOs) made boxing history in three ways as she became the first woman to fight for a world title at the Staples Center and under a Golden Boy Promotions fight card. She also accomplished what two male fighters were unable to do and win a world championship.
It was the fourth bout of the card as West walked into surprisingly boisterous reception despite the arena only being filled by maybe 5,000 fans at the time.
A tenuous first round saw West control the action with a snapping left jab and some quick counter left hooks. A right cross landed at the bell to give West the round convincingly. But the Moreno Valley resident had expected Gladney to attack from the onset. It didn?t happen.
Gladney was more aggressive in the second round, but West used her counter punching skills and speed to beat the South Carolinian to the punch. Both exchanged punches but never more than two shots at a time. During a clinch, Gladney landed a left hook flush through West?s guard.
West opened the third round with a left hook counter as Gladney attacked. Both exchanged and landed left hooks while fighting in close. During one of those exchanges Gladney emerged with a cut on the side of her left eye. Referee Caiz said it came from a punch.
?I told her to stay strong because she was catching her,? said Juan West father and trainer to Kaliesha.
In the fourth round West began moving in more aggressively and also with some strong punches to the body and head. After one exchange Gladney fell to the ground but the referee ruled it a slip.
?She was strong,? said West, who had expected Gladney to come out winging big punches. ?I had to respect her power.?
West didn?t waste time in the fifth. The Riverside-trained fighter waded in behind a jab and pummeled Gladney with punishing body shots that forced the South Carolinian to wince and try to evade. West was relentless in her attack and fired four consecutive body blows that spurred Gladney to look for safety. At the end of the round the shorter
Gladney returned to her corner shaking her head.
The seventh round saw Gladney fire a one-two combination at the fast approaching West who shrugged off the punches and fired four consecutive body blows. Gladney tried to fire back and was caught with a perfect left hook counter from West floored Gladney. She tried to get up but wobbled and referee Caiz called the fight off at 59 seconds of the round for a technical knockout win for West.
?I wasn?t even expecting a knockout,? said West who have her opponent a pep talk after the end. ?I just stayed strong with my punches and stopped punching while going backward.?
Immediately after the knockout was declared, Juan West, her father and trainer, bundled her up and raised her high with his arms as she held her right hand high.
?It erased all my thoughts of disappointments,? said the father West who has trained her throughout her amateur and pro career. ?It gave me a rush of satisfaction.?
After the short celebration West walked over to Gladney to give her a pep talk.
?I told her I had just fought two ranked fighters and she was tougher than they were,? said Kaliesha West. ?I told her to keep it up. I respected her power.?
West becomes the first world champion for the Riverside area and her city Moreno Valley. It was a moment she had dreamed of since age 10.
?It felt good to finally do it,? said West.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV