If you missed their first encounter don’t miss this one.
Rhonda Luna (17-3-2) and Crystal Morales (7-9-1) meet once again but this time for the IFBA lightweight world title on Thursday Aug. 15, at the OC Hangar in Costa Mesa. Roy Englebrecht Events is promoting the rematch.
A mere two months ago these two female prizefighters met for a six round bout and lit up the boxing ring in front of a sold out crowd. Not a seat was left and not a fan remained seated while the two women furiously exchanged blows. In the end, Luna emerged the winner by unanimous decision, but each round was decided by a late flurry or missed blow.
Luna was not pleased by her performance and especially by many who felt Morales might have won. The fans didn’t quibble; they sprayed the boxing ring with money flung from all sides. It was that kind of a fight.
One more thing about the title fight: don’t judge by their records.
Morales has more losses than wins but if you look at her record she has fought a kickboxing world champion, a current junior lightweight world champion and a future world champion twice. Losing to that kind of competition is not an embarrassment. It just means she fears no one and has no hesitation in her heart.
“Why dodge them,” says Morales, 27, about fighting such high level competition throughout her career. “I don’t have time for all of that. It’s tough enough to get fights anyway. Nobody should duck anybody.”
Morales had taken five years off but never lost her zest for the sport. She returned last year.
“I love boxing. I’m passionate about it,” explains Morales who lives in Oxnard and trains in Ventura. “I may be a girly girl outside, but once I step in the boxing ring the tomboy comes out in me.”
Luna left the sport for a short break too and returned two years later to meet Morales this past June at the OC Hangar. She had also been playing organized women’s tackle football and felt she was fit enough to fight.
“My first fight, I was probably 70 percent because I had been playing football. I wasn’t remotely at my best. But then, with women’s boxing, when opportunity knocks, you take it,” says Luna, who is a counselor for a high school. “The last fight, coming back, it’s sad to say in the back of my mind I said ‘it’s only 6 rounds.’ But preparing for a 10-round fight I know for a fact after fighting many 10-round fights, you have to be at tip top shape and be at your best.”
Morales has never fought a 10-round fight before but the challenge gives her goose bumps.
“I’m excited, especially for the belt,” said Morales. “It’s hard to get exposure. We train just as hard as the men and sometimes harder. We do it because we love the sport.”
Luna said she had planned for another six round tune up fight but her experience has taught her to jump at any opportunity.
“I didn’t really take time off and went directly back in. It turned out to be a blessing. I’m already at weight,” said Luna, who will be wearing pink boxing gloves in honor of a friend with breast cancer and initials of a 13-year-old girl who lost her life in an off-road accident. “Clearly I’ve never claimed speed, but I can box. My power has always been my strength. I’ve relied on one or two punches to try and do thing. But now I can do five or six punches where I can really do damage.”
Their first battle left the fans mesmerized. Luna feels she can win even more emphatically.
“I don’t fear anybody. I can clearly take a punch and it’s been an advantage,” said Luna, 35. “I’ll take one or two to see what you’ve got. From there on, I’m coming forward.”
Oxnard’s Morales said opponents have always under-estimated her; even when she made the Mexican National team as an amateur.
“She’s going to try and knock me out,” said Morales, who has never failed to go the distance in 17 pro fights. “I love that she has all of this experience. You learn something every time you go in the ring. I love that she has been in there with some of the best. I like to fight girls that are the best. I’m going to come out victorious.”
Luna and Morales, ironically, are both good friends with Mia St. John. Morales trains at the same boxing club and Luna worked as St. John’s trainer for her last world title fight. But don’t put them together in the boxing ring and expect pleasantries.
“This is an opportunity to show people what I’m really capable of,” Luna said.
Morales says: “I’m going to look good and kick ass.”
Don’t miss it.