Last Saturday, WBC flyweight champion Stefania Bianchini was the star of a major show held in the Principality of Monaco (South of France). Inside the renowned Salle des etoiles (Room of stars), she faced tough Zhang Xi Yan. Like many female boxers, Yan was something of a mystery; she had just two fights in her record, both won on points, but the second one was against American star Alicia Ashley. The fight was held in China (partisan verdicts are the norm everywhere), but I never read any articles about a robbery. That’s why Yan had to be taken seriously. Maybe, she had experience in the other ring sports and we don’t know about it because she lives in China. After all, Stefania Bianchini became kickboxing world champion and made her boxing debut against WIBF flyweight queen Regina Halmich lasting the full ten rounds. In women’s boxing, many talented fighters got world title shots with just a few bouts in their record.
Bianchini vs. Yan was an entertaining battle with both girls never saving an ounce of energy. The Italian launched the cleaner punches, while the Chinese fighter just wanted to brawl. There were headbutts and the public wondered why nobody got cut. It was just a matter of time. During the 7th stanza, Yan got injured on the left eyebrow and the referee deducted a point from Bianchini. He should have done the same to Yan in the previous rounds, considering that the challenger always moved forward with the head too low. Stefania got back to business in the 8th and 10th rounds delivering some heavy punches which made everybody believe that she clearly won the fight. Only one of the judges agreed with the spectators. As a matter of fact, the bout was scored in three different ways: 97-92 (Bianchini), 96-94 (Yan) and 95-95. It’s obvious that the point deduction cost Stefania the win, but the official who scored it 96-94 in favor of Yan really should release a statement explaining why he thinks she won. If throwing punches in a confused way is enough to win a fight, then we should rewrite boxing history.
Referring to the headbutt, Bianchini said it was unintentional and pointed out how many times Yan used her head in a dangerous way without getting any deduction. Also, the referee didn’t take a point away from the Italian immediately and this indecision generated controversy. Bianchini’s first defense of the WBC belt was also influenced by a headbutt. It happened on May 12, in Rezzato (in the Lombardia region). Stefania was facing Hagar Shmoulefeld. During the 5th round, the Israeli cut Bianchini over the right eyebrow and the doctor ordered the bout to be stopped. According to the rules, the scorecards were read and Bianchini was declared the winner. The last time I talked to her, Stefania told me that she has no intention to fight Shmoulefeld again: “She was a last minute substitute, but I believed she could box. She can’t! What she did against me has nothing to do with boxing. I suggest her to find a good gym and learn the basics. Only then, I’ll be more than willing to give her a rematch.”
Talking about her future in the post-fight interviews, Stefania Bianchini said that she would like to meet Regina Halmich again and unify the WBC/WIBF belts. If Stefania does it, she will become famous everywhere. In Italy, she is already a legend. On October 23, in Rome, she was given the highest sports award (the Golden Collar) by Prime Minister Romano Prodi and Sports Minister Giovanna Melandri. On that occasion Stefania met the soccer players who won the World Cup and other outstanding athletes and they were all surprised to find out that such a pretty girl could be a prizefighter. Just to point out that prejudices are difficult to beat.
When Simona Galassi gets some professional experience, maybe she could fight Stefania Bianchini in the most important female bout in the history of Italian boxing. Galassi already said that she would welcome an opportunity against Bianchini and I know that Stefania never refuses a challenge, but they have different managers and this could pose a major problem. In the United States, Don King and Bob Arum joined forces and promoted a show because of the profit. As a matter of fact, they named it “Sworn enemies.” In Italy, business comes out of friendship. If two people are rivals or have a problem, they will never work together. That’s also why there are so many political parties that nobody can name them all: two mid-level bureaucrats have an argument and one of them leaves the party to create a new one.
Going back to the show held on November 4, the supporting bouts were a parade on unknown boxers. The only fight worth mentioning was the one between light middleweights Vyacheslav Senchenko and Vincenzo Finzi. The Ukrainian proved to be a dangerous prospect the respected Italian (whose record was 19-10-3, prior to the fight) destroying in two rounds. Now, Senchenko’s record stands at 19-0 with 14 victories coming by way of knock out. He made news for the first time on September 22, 2004 defending the IBF Intercontinental welterweight title against the more experienced Cesar Alberto Leiva (who was 39-8). The Argentinean went down in the 4th and 6th rounds and lost by unanimous decision. Don’t be surprised if Senchenko will fight for the European light middleweight belt next year.
Born in Milan on November 4, 1970.
Weight: 110 pounds.
44 wins, 2 losses and 1 draw.
WKA, ISKA, WAKO and WPKL world champion.
12 wins (2 KOs), 2 losses and 1 draw.
Manager: Mario Loreni.
July 7, 1999 – Munchen (Germany) – Lost on points to WIBF flyweight champion Regina Halmich.
May 4, 1999 – Copenhagen (Denmark) – Beat on points Sengul Ozokcu for the WIBF European super flyweight title.
April 5, 2003 – Varese (Italy) – Won the vacant EBU European flyweight crown with a unanimous decision over Reka Krempf. The Italian successfully defended the belt three times against Judith Palacian, Cathy Brown and Reka Krempf.
March 19, 2005 – Tapolca (Hungary) – Lost a split decision to Victoria Milo for the WIBF and GBU world flyweight titles. The scorecards: 96-94 (Bianchini), 97-94 and 96-94 (Milo).
August 7, 2005 – Rimini (Italy) – Beat on points Cathy Brown becaming WBC world flyweight champion. It was a unanimous decision: 96-95 and 96-94 (twice).
May 12, 2006 – Rezzato (Italy) – Won a technical decision over Hagar Shmoulefeld. During the 5th round, Shmoulefeld headbutted Bianchini who couldn’t continue. Since Bianchini was ahead on the scorecards and was declared the winner.
November 4, 2006 – Principality of Monaco – Drew with Zhang Xi Yan.