Kaliesha West Still A Force
By David A. Avila
RANCHO MIRAGE, Ca.-Three years of inactivity could not hold back Kaliesha West from pounding out a victory and some of the rust against Kirstie Simmons on Saturday.
“My legs were right and my stance was right,” said West.
More than 800 fans packed the Agua Caliente Casino Theater and saw a different more powerful West (17-2-3, 4 Kos) left hook her way to a win over Colorado’s Simmons (8-3) who made every effort against her more experienced foe. But it was to no avail on the World Fighting Championship card.
It was three years ago that West last fought. But this time, though fighting at a much higher weight at 128 pounds, the Moreno Valley prizefighter seemed not as fast and agile, but her blows had much more force.
Speedy legs were not necessary in this fight.
The left-handed Simmons tried to touch the body and fire combinations early in the first round, but a left hook by West staggered the Colorado fighter and from that point on she was very careful about exchanging.
In the second round Simmons landed a right to the body but was caught with a left hook that wobbled her. More left hooks followed and each one moved Simmons to places she did not want to go with West on her tail. It was a big round for the Southern Californian.
“I thought I could have knocked her out,” said West. “But she was tough.”
Simmons seemed more energized in the third round and was able to land quick combinations and move out of the danger zone. West tried to cut off her movements but Simmons maneuvered cleverly out of distance. It was the Colorado fighter’s best round.
In the fourth round West focused on the body and found more openings. Simmons tried to counter but was met with more left hooks and moved out of the firing lanes. Simmons was able to connect with rights and two-punch combinations but was rattled by those left hooks.
Both fighters exchanged more liberally in the fifth round with West continuing to land those left hooks and Simmons firing two-punch combinations. A three-punch combination by West forced Simmons to move out of danger for the rest of the round.
The final round saw West connect with a lead right cross and a four-punch combination. The former world champion seemed to be hunting for the knockout and Simmons looked to avoid it. Punches flied for the first minute but after that Simmons looked to punch when she had a clear opening. Few punches were landed in the final seconds.
“I didn’t even think right at the last round to increase the punch count. I kept going, going, going I was physically able to do it,” said West. “I got my second wind.”
West said in looking back, she could have tried harder for the knockout.
“In the last round the left hook caught her and she wasn’t in focus. I didn’t want to over-punch,” said West. “But I felt I could have fought two more rounds easy.”
After six rounds all three judges scored it in favor of West 58-56 twice and 59-55.
“We pulled it off,” said Juan West the trainer and father of Kaliesha. “We knew Kirstie was a boxer and didn’t want a boring fight.”
After more than 36 months of inactivity, West proclaimed herself ready for any of the Olympians within her weight class, should they be willing.
“That’s why I came back,” said West adding that she never retired. “I know they need someone to fight and I’m here to fight them.”
Olympians take notice.
(Photo by Al Applerose)