Kenia Enriquez Wants It All
By Felipe Leon
TIJUANA, MEXICO-As expected once you win a world title, the goal of every fighter who straps on a pair of gloves whether they are male or female, changes will knock on your door.
Tijuana, Mexico’s Kenia Enriquez (19-1, 9KO) is not the exception.
Since winning the vacant WBC Interim light flyweight title with an impressive third round knockout of the tough Mary Salinas in late May, the accolades began raining down on her and her team. This time the twenty-three year old was ready since it wasn’t her first time on the world stage.
The world title was her second since back in late 2014 she captured the vacant WBO 112-pound crown with an overwhelming performance over the much more experienced Ana Arrazola. That reign didn’t last long since the twenty-three year old dropped the title in her first defense via a closely contested split decision loss to Melissa McMorrow in February of 2015.
Now Enriquez says she is so much more ready to carry the responsibility.
“The moment when I won my first world title, the OMB flyweight title, I was too young,” she says during an exclusive interview with the all-female boxing podcast the 2-Min Round. “I didn’t know how to take advantage of the opportunity. This was my dream, to win a WBC world title. I would see Chavez Sr. and see that title and I always wanted it. Once I won it, now I know that I am not only part of an organization like with my first world title but now I am part of a family.”
While the full-fledged 108-pound title holder Esmeralda Moreno waits for her rematch against WBC flyweight champion Jessica Chavez later this summer, the then #1 ranked Enriquez was ordered to face Salinas for the interim title on May 27th in Ciudad Obregon, Mexico.
Enriquez controlled the action with her aggressive but intelligent boxer-puncher style stopping Salinas, who had never been knocked out before, late in the third round with a perfectly placed left hook to the body. The fight marked Salinas’ fifth attempt at world title after facing the aforementioned Moreno, Naoko Shibata and Etsuko Tada among others.
“I feel absolute happiness,” the charismatic Enriquez said after being asked how she felt about the win. “We have been working every day, my team and I, for two years to again get the opportunity for a world title and I was given the opportunity and I am nothing but happy because of that.”
For two long years the Tijuana native, who has also held the regional NABF title, had to wait for another opportunity at the world stage but she mentions she never lost her focus.
“My objective has always been to win a title. My objective during that time was to win a title at 108 pounds and now I am thinking of unifying but my focus has always been a world title. I want the world titles of the division. I want to defeat the owners of those belts. Like I have said, belts are my favorite accessory and I like them so much that I want all the titles in this division and in the future I am looking to move up and win titles and make history.”
Never to shy away from a challenge, Kenia says she is willing to travel to other champion’s hometowns to reach her dreams.
“I am willing to do anything that gets me closer to a world title,” she stated. “I am willing to do anything that gets me closer in making history in boxing, anything that gets me closer to fulfill my and my team’s dreams. My willingness to do what it takes comes from wanting to be the best. I want that when I retire and they mention my name, they say ‘she faced the best of her era; she beat them and was a world champion.’ I don’t want them to say somebody got away from me. I want everyone to know I faced the best. I am a real fighter so I want to fight the best in the world.”
With her second world title in as many divisions, Enriquez became one of only seven Mexican female fighters to achieve the feat including the legendary Jackie Nava, also of Tijuana, who Kenia says is a woman she looks to emulate.
“She is a fighter, a mother, a congresswoman, an architect, also Cecilia Braekhus who is the first woman to unify a division, so I think they are great women to admire and to strive to be like them and maybe one day maybe even do more.”
Now Kenia must wait for the winner of the final fight of the WBC female flyweight tournament between current champion Jessica “Kika” Champion and current WBC light flyweight champion Esmeralda “Joya” Moreno.
Moreno won her title with a split decision over Ibeth Zamora in their semi-final fight last April. The Chavez-Moreno fight expected in August will be the rubber match between the two. Moreno won their first encounter back in 2011 with a unanimous decision for the vacant WBC Silver light flyweight title. Chavez took the second fight last summer in the best fight of the year with a majority decision. Moreno was never satisfied with the result and has been petitioning for a rematch ever since. Soon she will get her chance while Enriquez waits to see if Moreno wins and stays at 112 pounds or decides to stay at light flyweight setting up a face-off between the two.
Breaking down Kika and La Joya
“I think Jessica ‘Kika” Chavez knows her way around the ring,” Enriquez says of one of the best fighters in Mexico. “She is not like a lot of Mexico City fighters, that only throw a lot of punches. She throws a lot of punches but she develops a good strategy. She always knows your weakness because she has Nacho Beristain in her corner, a great strategist, so we know she always does something in a ring for a reason.”
As far as one of her near future opponents, Enriquez was as gracious but not without sentencing her idea of the outcome of a fight between the two. “Esmeralda Moreno is a very versatile fighter. She is a fighter that depends how, mentally and physically, climbs into the ring. There are times she can perform very well and others where she comes up short but I think like any typical Mexican fighter, she throws a lot of punches and goes forward. I know she makes a lot of errors, I know certain combinations will score and in other words, I know I can beat her.”
So Enriquez patiently waits for the fight to happen while etching out her future and the goals she has set for herself. “My biggest goal is not only equal Mariana Juarez’s record of three world titles in as many divisions, but I am planning, together with my team, to be a five time world champion in as many divisions and as far as the opponent I would most like to face, I am not thinking beyond the result of ‘Kika’ Chavez and Esmeralda Moreno. I would like to face Esmeralda Moreno or any other of the title holders of the 108-pound division.”
In the meantime, Enriquez will hold her third annual all-female amateur boxing tournament in her hometown of Tijuana. For the last two years Kenia has organized the event featuring the young women of the region facing each other and taking home trophies, medals, t-shirts and certificates with raffles and giveaways in between the bouts of the family-friendly afternoon. Enriquez organizes it herself and funds it completely through sponsors and donated funds.
“August 6th will be my third annual Kenia Enriquez amateur tournament,” she explains. “The goal is to always promote female boxing while giving back a little to the boxing world which has given me a lot by trying to help the new talent and the future champions of the sport. Every time I see these young women perform I think to myself that perhaps there is a future world champion from Tijuana and maybe even a future opponent for me. This is the third time I organize the tournament where we will see local amateur talent from Tijuana and its surrounding areas.”
While she bates her time by staying in the gym and planning her event until her next fight, one thing you never see is Enriquez engaging in social media wars with other fighters as others have recently done on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Why? Because none of them tend to call her out or even mention her as a possible foe despite holding a major title.
“Because they don’t want to be world champions. Because they don’t want to face the best,” she states as the reason. “They are not real fighters because they want to choose what is easy. If I wanted to choose the easy way, if I could be like them, I would choose what is easy, I would defend against easy opponents and pad my record without a loss. I think if you want to be a real fighter, to be the best, you will look to face world champions, to have the hunger to face the best and be the best.”
To support Kenia Enriquez’s tournament, please visit GoFundMe.com/keniaenriquez
To listen to the interview in its entirety, please visit BlogTalkRadio.com/2MinRound