When putting together a pound-for-pound list it’s best to imagine all of them fighting at the same weight and how they would do against each other.
Right now, the female prizefighter with the ability to beat anyone at any weight is Layla McCarter. The Las Vegas boxer has been fighting since 1998 and acquired boxing skills and craft that rival James Toney in the boxing ring. With more than 50 pro fights and world titles in featherweight, junior lightweight, lightweight and junior middleweight, that’s more than enough proof that she is the best.
Others like Mexico’s Jackie Nava and Argentina’s Yesica Bopp also have experience to go with their skills. Alicia Ashley is 45 years old and could be called the female version of Bernard Hopkins. Melinda Cooper has been fighting professionally since the age of 17 and though she is actually a flyweight, has been fighting junior featherweights to get fights.
Welcome to the women’s best fighters pound for pound June 2013:
1. Layla McCarter – (35-13-5, 8 Kos) – If you need proof of her abilities just ask Floyd Mayweather Jr. who has seen her in the ring many times and can vouch for her fighting skills. McCarter, 34, known as “the Amazing” McCarter, has not lost a fight since 2007. She is really a featherweight fighting as a junior middleweight. Last year she knocked out South Africa’s Noni Tenge in her country. Now her sights are targeted on Cecilia Braekhus.
2. Jackie Nava – (28-4-3, 12 Kos) – The scourge of the junior featherweight division has been out of action most of this year due to pregnancy. Now 33, Nava is a skillful and strong 122-pound junior featherweight from Tijuana, Mexico who loves to put on the gloves. Last August she stopped former world champion Lisa Brown in the third round. That was a tremendous win for Nava, who is slowing down a bit. How much longer will she continue?
3. Melinda Cooper (22-2, 11 Kos) – The petite Las Vegas female boxer is only 28 years old and has been fighting since 2002. She’s the rare blend of speed, power and boxing ability. Most of her fights have taken place in the super bantamweight division, but she is actually a super flyweight forced to fight in the heavier divisions. She is also a former flyweight world champion. Seldom is she engaged in a boring fight unless the opposition resorts to holding or running. Cooper is a very exciting fighter and will be looking to regain a world title in junior bantamweight, bantamweight or the junior featherweight division.
4. Alicia Ashley (19-9-1) – Now 45-years-old the southpaw from New York still has speed and remains a force in women’s boxing. Ashley can fight from flyweight to featherweight and has been willing to travel out of the country to obtain fights. The left-hander hasn’t lost a fight in four years and recently won a world title in the super bantamweight division in Panama. That’s not easy to do.
5. Cecilia Braekhus (22-0, 6 Kos) – The tall athletic fighter from Norway is now 31 years old. She doesn’t have the boxing skills of a McCarter, Cooper or Nava but does have speed and some pop. Her height also helps. She was hoping for a fight with her American mirror image Holly Holm, but the redhead retired from boxing. Will Braekhus fight Layla McCarter? That’s the big question. Braekhus’ last fight was against Mia St. John. Other boxing sites have Braekhus ranked number one. That’s way too high. Until she beats someone like fellow pound-for-pound fighter McCarter she belongs beneath the more skilled female boxers. She’s simply a very good athlete.
6. Ava Knight (12-1-3, 5 Kos) – The Northern California flyweight has basically cleaned out many of Mexico’s flyweights. Now 24 years old, Knight probably should move up in weight to gather some more world titles. Ironically, two of the other flyweight world titlists, Carina Moreno and Melissa McMorrow, live in Northern California too. A flyweight world title tourney seems in order but don’t hold your breath. Knight is very tall for a flyweight and packs good speed and power. She can also box if necessary as proved against Mariana Juarez.
7. Erica Farias (16-0, 9 Kos) – The lightweight from Argentina has not fought outside of that country. That’s usually a bad sign. Farias, 28, does have strength and was able to defeat Melissa Hernandez by decision after 10 rounds a year ago. But maybe some of those wins are tainted by Argentine judging? It would be good for Farias to fight outside of her country to see if she really can fight without support from biased judges.
8. Susie Ramadan (23-1, 8 Kos) – Now 34, the Aussie bantamweight has a tremendous amount of heart and willingness to fight anyone in any country. Ramadan’s only loss came in Mexico by decision. Amazingly she was willing to return for a rematch but the Mexican promoters were unable to keep the fight date. Instead she fought the champion from Thailand and beat her to regain a world title. Too bad other female fighters are not as fearless as Ramadan.
9. Jessica Chavez (18-3-2, 4 Kos) – Chavez, 24, took a few years to avenge a loss to Argentina’s Yesica Bopp, but she did just that last weekend in Mexico. For years Chavez has been boxing under the radar of the more well-known Mexican female fighters. That all changed with the win over Bopp, who suffered her first career loss.
10. Kina Malpartida (15-3, 4 Kos) – Peru’s Malpartida, 33, has been fighting for more than 10 years professionally. The tall junior lightweight could easily win by boring decisions simply by using her jab. But she opts to slug it out at times and gets dropped occasionally. Then she gets up and continues beating the opposition. Malpartida is a very under-rated fighter and the first world champion from Peru.
11. Yesica Bopp (24-1, 11 Kos) – Argentina’s golden girl had been undefeated for a number of years. Bopp, 29, finally fought outside of her country and was handed a loss by Jessica Chavez in Mexico. But the petite Argentine still has quickness, speed and agility to spare. Losing to Chavez was not an embarrassment. Bopp still remains one of the top female boxers.
12. Ana Julaton (12-3-1) – San Francisco’s Julaton has been globe-trotting looking for the big fights for the past several years. Although judging and refereeing in other countries has been terrible in several of her fights, Julaton has no hesitation about fighting the best. Each year she seems to add another layer of boxing skill to the repertoire. Three world titles have been won so far, but the Filipina-American eyes a showdown with Mexico’s Jackie Nava.
13. Anne Sophie Mathis (26-3, 22 Kos) – The hard punching Frenchwoman may not be the most nimble boxer on her feet, but if she connects, it usually means good night. Age hasn’t taken anything away from her power and though she lost to Holly Holm and Cecilia Braekhus, they were not one-sided as the scores suggest. The knockout of Holm in their first encounter is a highlight reel for female prizefighting.
Mariana Juarez, Melissa Hernandez, Katy Wilson Castillo, Daihana Santana, Kaliesha West, Monica Acosta, Shindo Go, Delfine Persoon and Ina Menzer.