INGLEWOOD, CALIF-In a rare occurrence, a female world title fight between Maureen “The Real Million Dollar Baby” Shea and IBF super bantamweight world titlist Yulihan Avila is the semi-main event on a pay-per-view fight card on Saturday.
Oxnard’s Shea (24-2, 12 KOs) challenges Mexico’s Avila (12-2) on Saturday, Aug. 29, at the Inglewood Forum for the world title.
It’s the semi to Shane Mosley’s rematch with Ricardo Mayorga.
Lots of rare happenings on this fight card.
First, after several years of fighting in Mexico against rugged female fighters from south of the border, the New York-born Shea –who is half Mexican and half Irish- finally returns. And guess what? She’s fighting yet another Mexican.
“I fought so many times in Mexico I feel home there too,” said Shea, who is fluent in Spanish. “Wherever the ring is, that’s my home.”
From October 2011 to October 2013 the American born female boxer battled a total of seven female Mexican fighters. It was the only way she could maintain her fighting form. But those battles actually seemed to boost her fighting skills a few notches.
She also made a move to Southern California and calls Oxnard her base. Since making the move she realized her true weight. She had been fighting at 130 but now fights at 122 pounds.
“Nobody knew my true weight. Coming out here I walk around at 128. I’m a true bantamweight. I can fight from 118. I’m eating, I’m drinking, I’m about to go run,” said Shea by phone. “I’m fine at this weight.”
Experience vs. Youth
Shea has been around for a while. Now 34, she helped in the making the Oscar-winning film “Million Dollar Baby” by Clint Eastwood. But the thirst for boxing has kept her in the game despite the lack of exposure by promoters and television networks.
“It’s learning about yourself. I believe women get better with age,” said Shea. “I’ve been involved in this sport for 10 years. Even in Mexico they embrace the female boxer.”
The New Yorker has the experience advantage but world champion Avila showed amazing skills defeating Argentina’s Carolina Gutierrez in her home country by unanimous decision. It’s rare when any outsider wins in Argentina.
“This is my first time in Los Angeles,” said Avila, 21, who strongly resembles Mariana “Barbie” Juarez of Mexico City. “I did not come all the way here to lose my title.”
Shea expects a hard battle. She knows what to expect from native Mexican fighters.
“I know she’s never been stopped. I think my experience outweighs her by a lot. I feel I’m the stronger fighter by a lot,” Shea said. “I’m just going to claim what’s been waiting for me.”
Avila realizes Shea has more experience but has confidence in her skills.
“She has a lot more experience than me,” Avila said. “But I fought in Argentina and won. IF I won there I can win here.”
The weigh-in takes place today, Friday, at 5 p.m. at Venice Beach at the Muscle Beach area. Public is invited.
Tickets for the fight can be purchased on Ticketmaster. Tickets are priced at $68. The fight card will also be televised and shown on pay-per-view at $49.95.