Female Boxing Thrives – Latin America thrives when it comes to female prizefighting.
Costa Rica’s Hanna Gabriel (15-1-1) defends her WBO super welterweight world title against Uruguay’s Katia Alvarino (8-2-1) on Saturday June 18, at Polideportivo Jose Maria Vargas in La Guaira, Venezuela. It’s not the only female world title fight. Two others are included.
Gabriel is her country’s greatest female athlete and perhaps its best known. She once headlined a fight card in the capital of San Jose, Costa Rica at a soccer stadium in front of nearly 20,000 rabid fans.
No North American female prizefighter can make that claim or even come close.
Gabriel’s country has long backed her and she has become the role model for millions of young females in not just Costa Rica, but throughout Latin America.
In North America, very few major fight cards are hosting female world title fights, especially in the western region of the U.S. where pro boxing thrives.
One of the very few boxing promoters staging major female bouts has been K-2 Promotions.
Two female bouts were included when Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin defended his multiple middleweight titles last April at the Inglewood Forum. K-2 also tagged a female bout to Golovkin’s previous defense in Los Angeles a year earlier.
But other than K-2 Promotions, Shane Mosley’s GoBox Promotions and Bobby D Presents, the large boxing promotion companies have excluded women.
Drought is broken
After exclusion of female bouts for almost four years, Golden Boy Promotions finally staged a female boxing match in downtown Los Angeles when Seniesa “Super Bad” Estrada defeated Christina Fuentes on June 3.
The last time Golden Boy Promotions featured women was a bout in September 2012 between Melinda Cooper and Celina Salazar in Las Vegas. So when Estrada met Fuentes at Belasco Theater in downtown L.A., it made people notice.
Could this signal the re-emergence of female fights on major cards?
American female prizefighters are feared and respected worldwide for their skill and talent. But many American women are forced to fight overseas or in other countries. The U.S. has the talent.
Melissa McMorrow recently won the WBO flyweight title a second time. She has never been defeated while holding the WBO belt but twice was stripped for inactivity.
It’s a shame.
“They sent me an email to tell me,” said McMorrow of the WBO organization informing her that her title hold was no longer because she could not find a promoter willing to stage her world title fight. Time had elapsed.
McMorrow and most American female prizefighters have long suffered lack of support in their own country. It’s a sad statement but perhaps Golden Boy’s recent inclusion of a female bout marks a change in things.
“I am so thankful to Golden Boy for recognizing the value in us female fighters, and look forward to more fights like these,” said Seniesa Estrada after her fight on June 3.
This Saturday another American will be fighting for a world title in another country. San Diego’s Jolene Blackshear (9-7) challenges WBA minimum weight titlist Anabel Ortiz (20-3) of Tepic, Mexico for the title in Tijuana, Mexico at Auditorio Municipal. Blackshear, 46, is a former light flyweight world champion. Ortiz, 29, is making the seventh defense of the title she first won in July 2013.
But like McMorrow, the San Diego prizefighter is forced to fight on foreign territory.
Ignoring female fighters seems to be a west coast thing. In the east, Heather Hardy and Amanda Serrano both signed with DiBella Entertainment and have participated on major cards in New York.
McMorrow, who lives in the San Francisco Bay area, has fought numerous times overseas and in Mexico, yet has not fought on American shores in four years and not even close to her hometown in seven years.
“I would love to fight in my hometown,” said McMorrow, 34, whose last fight took place 16 months ago when she defeated Kenia Enriquez by split decision for the WBO flyweight title. “It’s difficult to get a fight.”
If Golden Boy Promotions jumps into the female fight game others could follow.
Female Boxing Thrives