Kaliesha “Wild Wild” West not only took the west, but she took the east, south and north in an impressive year of proving she could fight and beat the best. For that, she is the Female Fighter of the Year.
West took her “fear no one” attitude and cleaned up several global regions like a modern day paladin. When judges gave her bad decisions for two successive draws, she pulled the trigger and subsequently put two knockout notches on her belt.
The bantamweight also made history in becoming the first world champion from her boxing crazy area called the Inland Empire. It’s the new breeding ground for prizefighters located 60 miles east of Los Angeles. West beat them all for the world title.
First, was a battle against former world champion Ada Velez. Though judges ruled it a draw it showed that the 23-year-old West had speed and skills to match Puerto Rico’s experienced Velez. It ended in a draw but that night the judges were off on two fights including the West-Velez fight. The superior firepower belonged to West that night.
Next, a journey to Denmark where West faced former world champion Anita Christensen.
The tall Danish fighter had the home town crowd, European judges and the weather in her favor though the fight was indoors. But after 10 rounds that saw Christensen rarely land a clean punch, the fight ended in a draw. West out-boxed her for five rounds then battered the taller Danish girl the rest of the way. The fight ended in a draw.
Disappointed but undeterred the Southern Californian accepted a fight against Brazil’s hard-hitting Vannessa Guimaraes. The fight took place in South America in Lima, Peru. With back-to-back draws in previous bouts, West loaded up with the big guns. After several rounds West began proving to the Brazilian girl that she had the bigger power and proved it with a three-punch combination to the body and head that forced the Peruvian referee to stop the fight. Guimaraes’ head snapped back so violently she might have suffered whiplash from a West left hook. Eyes opened that night for those doubting the California girl’s power.
The climax to West’s impressive year came on Sept. 18 at the Staples Center on a Golden Boy Promotions fight card. It was the first time ever a female world title fight was held in that arena and the first time Golden Boy staged a female world title bout.
West did not disappoint.
That night she knocked out Angel Gladney in the seventh round with a spectacular left hook that ignited the crowd at the huge arena. She also won the WBO bantamweight world title to end a very good year.
The 22-year-old West is the Female Boxer of the Year.
Runner up was Canada’s Jeanine Garside who broke Ina Menzer’s winning streak to grab the featherweight world title. Garside had suffered some disappointing losses fighting overseas but not on July 3 in Germany. Beating Menzer in her home turf was a pretty impressive feat for Garside.
Others who had a great year in 2010 were Thailand’s Usanakorn Kokietgym, Mexico’s Ana Maria Torres and last year’s winner Kina Malpartida of Peru.
Fight of the Year
Ana Julaton vs. Maria Villalobos
San Francisco’s Ana “The Hurricane” Julaton blew into Ontario, Canada to meet Mexico’s Maria Villalobos on June 30 on a televised bout. Both did not disappoint.
After 10 bloody and brutal rounds of combat Julaton pulled out a split-decision victory over the Mexican girl. The Filipina prizefighter was badly cut and refused to wilt as she punched her way to victory that had the crowd roaring its approval. It was no accident. Both women are known for action.
Round of the Year
California’s Rhonda Luna and New York’s Ela Nunez fought on equal terms in a back and forth battle on Oct. 28 at San Manuel Casino. With the GBU junior lightweight title on the line, Luna and Nunez unleashed a fusillade of blows in round 10, the final round of the title bout. It was a climactic ending that saw Luna finally win a world championship but not without Nunez looking to end the fight with one punch.
Knockout of the Year
Kaliesha West’s knocked out Angel Gladney in the seventh round on Sept. 18 at the Staples Center in L.A. Their fight began slowly as the usually aggressive Gladney decided to fight defensively. Both approached each other cautiously for three rounds with jabs, feints and back-stepping, then the punches began to flow. After an exchange of punches including some impressive body shots, West landed a perfect left hook to Gladney’s chin and down she went. The crowd was amazed at West’s single punch knockout. So very few women’s bouts are included in a major fight card. That night West showed that women can entertain and fight skillfully too. She also proved that women can bang.
Jennifer Barber captured the IFBA junior lightweight world title by defeated Ji-Hye Woo on Dec. 11 in Seoul, South Korea. Despite losing her first world title bid when she traveled to France to face Myriam Lomare in 2008, she eagerly accepted the challenge to travel to South Korea to face Woo who had successfully beaten five title challengers including Rhonda Luna and Jeanine Garside. Northridge, California’s Barber won by unanimous decision. It’s not easy going to another country and winning by decision.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV