Chevelle Hallback and Elizabeth Quevedo won’t be fighting each other but they represent opposite ends in the world of female prizefighting.
For years Hallback has been a fixture in the female boxing world as one of its most talented fighters since she arrived in 1997. Quevedo is making her professional boxing debut this week after a sterling amateur career.
Both are loaded with boxing talent.
Hallback, the junior lightweight world champion, meets welterweight champion Holly Holm (17-1-2, 5 KOs) at the Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Wednesday night. The welterweight fight will be televised by ESPN.
“I know she likes to run a lot but that doesn’t bother me,” said Hallback (25-4-1, 11 KOs), who’s fought in Canada, Japan and other parts of the country, but only a few times in her native Florida. “There’s a way to beat fighters like Holly Holm.”
Now 36, Hallback has risen to become one of the best fighters in the world though she never fought a round as an amateur. In just her second pro bout she was matched against the great Lucia Rijker.
Hallback remembers that she didn’t know much about the sport back in 1997 when she was asked to fight Rijker, but she did know whom she was facing.
“Everybody knew Lucia Rijker,” said Hallback who had knocked out her only other opponent in one round. “I didn’t know better.”
Rijker tasted Hallback’s power and immediately knew she was in a scrap. But the former kickboxing champion from Holland slowly turned the fight in her favor and caught Hallback with a solid punch for a fifth round knockout.
“I always wanted a rematch with Lucia, but she never gave me one,” said Hallback whose other losses have come by decision. “That was only my second pro fight. It would be different now.”
Hallback now faces Holm; a tall boxer who likes to hit, hold and run out of danger. The New Mexico fighter has captured world titles in the junior welterweight, welterweight and junior middleweight divisions with a style that pleases the home crowd but usually leaves others dissatisfied.
“Boxing is about entertainment,” said Hallback, whose quick fists and quick legs allow her to beat opponents to the punch. “Running is not my style. I like to trade punches and see who’s best.”
Her fight against Layla McCarter in 2004, a fight televised by ESPN, is considered one of the finest displays of female boxing in history. Both women showed plenty of skill and rarely fought more than two feet away from each other for 10 rounds.
“Chevelle is a good fighter but I don’t think she can beat Holly Holm with the judges in Albuquerque,” said McCarter, one of the top female fighters today. “Holly Holm does what she needs to do to win in her town.”
The speedy Floridian Hallback is a former featherweight and junior lightweight world champion. Now she’s jumping up three weight divisions to fight the much bigger Holm.
“Nobody wanted to fight me so I moved up,” said Hallback, whose last fight was a 10-round unanimous decision over Belinda Laracuente in November. “The people that did want to fight me didn’t want to pay me.”
It’s been a long road for Hallback since she lost to Rijker.
Four-time US National champion
Fresh out of the burgeoning amateur program Quevedo makes her pro debut on Thursday at the Irvine Marriott Hotel. Though she doesn’t know who she’s fighting it doesn’t matter. In the amateurs she hardly ever knew her opponent during her travels to Russia, Argentina, Sweden, India and other parts of the world.
Quevedo burst into the international amateur scene after winning the U.S. National title back in 2003 at the welterweight level. With her pro style she wasn’t able to convince the international judges of her boxing superiority.
“In the amateurs it’s all about defense and touching your opponent with a jab,” said Robert Luna who trains Quevedo. “You don’t get credit for power punches. A lot of those fighters in Europe will never make good pros because they can’t hit with any power.”
Before she captured her first national title only a few amateur boxing observers noticed the tall thin girl with amazing power and grit. Sometimes opponents simply dropped out of the competition rather than fight Quevedo whose reputation for stopping opponents traveled far.
“I remember when she knocked out a middleweight in nine seconds,” said Alex Camacho, who watches many amateur boxing shows. “Not even guys knock out opponents in nine seconds, especially in the amateurs.”
Camacho has company when he feels Quevedo just might be the next great female champion.
“We’re not even going to pick and choose opponents for Liz (Quevedo),” says Luna, who’s trained her since she first walked into the boxing gym eight years ago. “She can fight anybody right now. That’s how confident I am in her ability.”
Quevedo will be fighting Danielle Christiansen (1-4) whose losses have come to good fighters such as Demi Nguyen twice and Suswella Roberts. It won’t be televised.
The South Gate resident who trains out of the City of Commerce had planned to participate in the next Olympics, but women’s boxing was not approved.
“I cried and cried when I heard the news,” said Quevedo, 22, who had been preparing for more than five years to qualify for the Olympics. “It was one of the saddest days in my life.”
Now the Mexican-American boxer is ready for the pros.
“I don’t think it’s going to be any different,” says Quevedo, who works as a physical trainer in Beverly Hills. “I kind of have a pro style anyway.”
Her trainer believes she will make immediate waves in the professional ranks.
“She doesn’t look it but she’s a very physical fighter. If you do something dirty to her she’s not going to let it slide,” said Luna. “But I feel she’s going to add class to the boxing world.”
For Thursday fight information at Irvine Marriott call Roy Engelbrecht Promotions (949) 760-3131.
For Wednesday fight information at Tingley Coliseum call (505) 884-7484.
Special thanks to Mary Ann Owen for photo of Chevelle Hallback.