SAN DIEGO-Mexico’s Kenia Enriquez used her jab like a magic wand to bedazzle the fast rushes of fellow Mexican Mayela Perez before an adoring crowd on Thursday.
Enriquez (12-0, 6 Kos) returned to her new adopted home across the border and was greeted much like her previous travel with loud cheering fans numbering close to 1,000 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. The end result was a unanimous decision victory over Perez (11-16-4, 7 Kos) after eight rounds in a junior flyweight contest.
Five months had passed since her last fight, but if there was rust it was not obvious. She has the ability to strike quick, defend or ambush at her disposal. Her biggest weapons are the agility in her legs and that stabbing and punishing jab. Yes, that jab could be the best in the business of female boxing.
“My strategy was to use my jab and speed and keep my distance,” said Enriquez.
Behind a probing jab that connected with varying impact, Enriquez kept Perez’s bull rushes under control in the first round. And when that was not enough, she cracked that left hook that seemed to physically change the look in Perez’s eyes.
Second round action saw Enriquez slightly more aggressive. Though the slender caramel skinned boxer from Tijuana seldom attacked outright, whenever the shorter and seemingly heavier Perez charged, Enriquez would use that educated jab to maneuver her opponent one way or another like a matador against a bull. On several occasions, Enriquez opened up with the big guns and fired some pretty lethal combinations. After several connected, she opened up the distance to gauge what kind of damaged had been inflicted. Seeing none, she went back to business with the use of that persistent jab.
Perez was no snow flake which would melt away after a few heated exchanges. She bobbed and weaved and attacked with hooking punches from both sides. The fighter from Saltillo, Mexico had fought several of her country’s best female fighters and was the proud possessor of the WBC mini flyweight silver belt. She was out for her pound of flesh and determined to show how that belt was captured. There was no meekness in her heart. In the fourth round a solid left hook crashed Enriquez’s jaw for Perez’s best round. But trying to cross that neutral zone that Enriquez established was pretty difficult.
Enriquez realized that the previous round could be a turning point and emerged from her corner with intentions to end the fight. No jabs came from the Tijuana prizefighter, instead a deadly volley of pinpoint blows caught a surprised Perez, who seemingly expected more jabs. Enriquez unloaded several combos that connected solidly. The Saltillo fighter returned fire and when one of her counters connected, the attack ended and returned back to the previous mode of jab, jab, jab for Enriquez.
After one round of jab and counter, the eighth and final round saw Enriquez and Perez engage in a firefight. Once again Enriquez’s accuracy played out but Perez again exhibited the ability to absorb the big blows and landed a few of her own. For the entire two-minute round both female fighters took their chances and expended their ammunition with crushing combinations. Perez landed more blows than she had the entire fight but took a lot more big blows too.
All three judges scored the fight 80-72 in favor of Enriquez.
“She turned out to be a very experienced opponent,” said Enriquez, “and a little complicated too.”
Jolene Blackshear (9-5, 4 Kos) may have surprised Susan Reno (1-3-1) with her power but did not surprise anyone who had seen her earlier fights when she cracked that deadly right cross to end the fight within a minute of the first round.
Haley Pasion won her pro debut against debuting Jillian Lybarger (0-1), who just by her stance and constant elbowing let the crowd know she is an MMA fighter. Pasion boxed and Lybarger elbowed and clinched for most of the fight. Hawaii’s Pasion won by mixed scores of 38-38, 39-37 and 40-36 to win a majority decision. One of Pasion’s trainers is former champion Jesus Salud.
Miguel Sanchez (9-0, 7 Kos) remained undefeated after a brawling three rounds against Ivan Zavala (6-7-2). Zavala could not continue due to a hand injury after the third round.
Mulapi Enjani won his pro debut by unanimous decision over Juan Urbina (0-3-1).