From left to right: Kat Rodriguez, Liz Parr, Kaliesha West.
Female professional boxing gave three shots in the arm of competitive prizefighting in Las Vegas.
More than 800 fans including middleweight world champion Sergio Martinez and UFC president Dana White saw three women’s boxing fights at the Texas Station Casino on Sunday. Two of the fights had world title implications.
In all three bouts there was fierce fighting especially in the main event that saw IBF junior featherweight titleholder Ada Velez retain her belt with a majority decision over Las Vegas prizefighter Melinda Cooper after 10 rounds.
All of the women bouts were televised both nationally and internationally which is a rarity in the sport. Several male bouts also took place with Sampson Boxing promoting the entire card.
Despite competing with NFL football on a Sunday afternoon, the lure of women’s boxing was still able to grab a fair amount of fans to venture to the ballroom at the Las Vegas casino. Though another 400 fans could have fit, the crowd was still impressive and very vocal.
Cooper’s support was the strongest of all. It had been almost five years since she last fought in her hometown and her fans attended in force. It was good to see that kind of support.
Though the hometown girl lost by decision against Puerto Rico’s Velez, it was an impressive fight. I had attended their first encounter in Costa Rica and saw a completely different fight on Sunday. Velez made a lot of adjustments to win the rematch too and that showed off the skill proficiency of the sport.
In the other title fight Dominican Republic’s Dahiana Santana made adjustments also in winning by unanimous decision against former champion Stacey Reile. They also had fought in Costa Rica earlier in the year with Reile winning the first meeting.
Seldom are female fight cards staged anywhere outside of New Mexico, where junior welterweight champion Holly Holm has tremendous backing. This past weekend female prizefighting got a boost in awareness.
In January, the amateur women’s boxing program will have its final box offs to determine the representatives for Team USA that will participate in the 2012 Olympics in London. The Summer Olympic Games will be showing female boxing for the first time in its long history.
Women’s boxing just took a leap over the weekend though the numbers don’t reflect the impact. A slow gradual climb will take place over the next year.
These past few years other countries have discovered women’s pro boxing and are benefiting from showing their fights on television. Mexico regularly puts female main events on its television sports programming. Mariana Juarez, Jackie Nava and Ana Maria Torres are the reigning sports figures in that country and are national figures. Peru has Kina Malpartida, Costa Rica has Hanna Gabriel, Argentina has Yesica Bopp and Panama has Chanttal Martinez. Germany has long been the center for women’s boxing where a number of female world champions have served as gate attractions like flyweight Susi Kentikian.
Ana Julaton, who was born in the U.S. and still lives in Daly City, California, is one of the leading sports attractions in the Philippines. Only Manny Pacquiao is more popular than Julaton according to Philippine television ratings.
And only the United States has failed to recognize the attraction of female boxing. That will end next year.