Perhaps one of the more clever female fighters on the planet, Layla McCarter, has stepped into another challenge: trying to change the women’s fight game.
The Las Vegas resident has been lobbying various boxing sanction organizations and boxing commissions such as the Nevada State Athletic Commission to make changes in female bouts including changing the length of boxing rounds from two minutes to three minutes.
“Women train just as hard, if not harder than men,” said McCarter, a two-time world champion. “It’s not as if we can’t fight three minutes. I don’t understand the rule.”
Even in amateur boxing the female boxers fight only two minutes.
“It makes the fights faster,” said Sue Fox, a former professional boxer who now heads www.womensboxing.com a popular female boxing site on the web. “They know they don’t have a lot of time to waste so the women come out fast.”
McCarter feels the fights become too amateurish with women flailing away with little skill or precision.
“They punch without even looking,” McCarter says. “That’s why so many people are turned off by women’s boxing.”
The debate for longer rounds has been ongoing for decades. The more skillful fighters and harder punchers favor longer rounds.
Christy Martin, one of the most famous knockout punchers in female boxing, made a jump into another echelon because of her ability to put opponents to sleep with a single punch.
But not many female boxers have that kind of power in their punches. Many need time to wear an opponent down before knocking them out.
“I definitely feel with three-minute rounds I would have a lot more knockouts,” said Elena “Baby Doll” Reid, who fights for the WIBA flyweight world title on Aug. 31 in Lake Tahoe. “There have been times if I just had 20 more seconds I know I could have stopped the other girl.”
Women’s boxing is much like women’s basketball. When compared to their male counterparts it seems to lack something. In basketball it’s the dunk. In boxing it’s the knockout.
“Everybody likes the knockout puncher,” said Derek Smith, a Los Angeles boxing magazine writer. “It’s like watching two cars collide. People just want to see damage.”
Jill Diamond, a spokesperson for the women’s WBC sanctioning body that began including women boxing two years ago, agrees that female boxers have the ability to fight three-minute rounds but would like a boxing commission to approve it.
Another change McCarter and other female prizefighters would like is the length of world championship fights. Now women only fight 10 rounds while men fight 12 rounds in title fights. It also means less money for women because the length of a fight dictates the amount of money paid to fighters.
“I know people are always concerned about women getting hurt,” said Mia Rosales St. John, a two-time world champion who has fought six 10-round fights in her career. “But the longer the better for me. I don’t care if we fight 15 rounds. I’m ready for it. Besides, it means more money.”
Young pros like Kaliesha West, who fights out of Moreno Valley and whose style reminds many of a Sugar Shane Mosley, prefers three minute rounds and 12 round fights.
“People always told me I had a pro style,” says West, 18, a former national amateur champion. “I like going for knockouts.”
Veterans of the sport have contended for years that female boxing needs a boost of energy.
“Sometimes you just run out of time,” said Chevelle Hallback, the four-time world champion. “You can feel the knockout is just one punch away then the bell rings.”
McCarter feels the two-minute round borders on discrimination.
“It’s just people saying we’re not good enough to fight an extra minute,” McCarter says. “If it is ever changed, you’ll see the more skillful fighters winning by knockout. It’s all about skills.”
Staples Center fight card
In less than two weeks James “Lights Out” Toney will be stepping in the ring against hard-hitting behemoth Samuel Peter of Nigeria. The fight card takes place on Sept. 2, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The winner was supposed to fight Oleg Maskaev-Hasim Rahman winner. But that seems to have evaporated when Maskaev knocked out Rahman in the 12th.
Also on the same card will be IBF featherweight titleholder Eric Aiken defending against California sensation Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero. For tickets or information call (818) 817-8001.
Fights on television
Friday ESPN2, 6 p.m., Sergio Mora (18-0) vs. Eric Regan (26-2).
Friday, Telefutura, 10 p.m., Ishe Smith (17-1) vs. Gilbert Venegas (9-3-2).
Friday, Telemundo, 11:30 p.m., Carlos Maussa (20-3) vs. Manuel Garnica (22-5).