The Best Comes In Threes: Zamora vs McMorrow
By Felipe Leon
In the world of female boxing, Mexico imposes a large shadow over the sport. In spite of that, it wasn’t until the legendary Mariana “Barbie” Juarez captured the WBC bantamweight title in April of last year the country had their first three-divisional world champion.
This Saturday night from Mexico City it might have its third when Ibeth “Guerrera Otomi” Zamora (28-6, 12KO) takes on former champion Melissa “Mighty” McMorrow (10-6-3, 1KO) live in Mexico on Televisa for the vacant WBC flyweight world title.
The title is vacant because the current champion Jessica “Kika” Chavez is pregnant.
This past weekend Mexican veteran Yazmin “Rusita” Rivas captured the WBA super bantamweight title with a fifth round TKO in Colombia over local Liliana Palmera to become the second fighter from Mexico to win three world titles in as many divisions. Rivas has also held the WBC bantamweight title as well as the WBA super flyweight title.
“Barbie” Juarez, the current queen of Mexican boxing, has held world titles at flyweight, super flyweight and bantamweight and is looking for a 122-pound strap sometime in the near future.
Zamora of Ecatepec, Mexico, who changed her nickname from “La Roca” to “Guerrera Otomi” to reflect her indigenous roots, captured her first world title in late ’09 with a win over Ana Fernandez for the interim WBA minimumweight title. She defended it twice before challenging for the full-fledged strap and came up short against Etsuko Tada.
A win over another Japanese fighter, Naoko Shibata, gave her a second title in as many divisions in early 2013 adding the vacant WBC light flyweight title with a split decision.
Zamora made her name with that title.
The 29-year-old defended it eight times against some of the best names in the division including Maricela “Baby” Quintero, Ava Knight, Jessica “Kika” Chavez, Jolene Blackshear, Esmeralda Moreno and Keisher McLeod Wells.
It wasn’t until her second face-off with Moreno in a semi-final fight WBC flyweight tournament early last year that she finally lost the title via a split decision.
“When I lost the title it wasn’t a tragedy,” Zamora said of her first loss in five years. “I don’t like to lose but I think God makes things happen for a reason. I didn’t see it as an end but as the beginning of something, a new Ibeth Zamora.”
McMorrow’s road to world titles and recognition has not been as easy.
To say the architect by day has gone through spurts of inactivity is a gross understatement.
In a career that spans 10 years, the fact the 36-year-old only has 19 pro fights is crime. The world title fight, the sixth of her career, is her first fight in two years. Her last one was in the first round of the WBC flyweight tourney losing a unanimous decision to the now WBC light flyweight champion Esmeralda “Joya” Moreno.
McMorrow of San Francisco, CA, has held the WBO flyweight world title twice and despite her small number of fights compared to Zamora, has fought world-class opposition in the likes of the aforementioned Keisher McLeod Wells, Arely Mucino, Susi Kentikian, Mariana Juarez, Jessica Chavez, Kenia Enriquez and the aforementioned Moreno.
“I am very excited to fight for the WBC flyweight world title,” McMorrow said when she landed in Mexico City earlier this week. “This is an opportunity I have waited for a long time. I am going to let it go, the WBC belt comes back with me to the United States.”
Despite Zamora’s advantage in fights, McMorrow might equal her in experience since she is no stranger in winning in the champion’s hometown, a feat she did against Kentikian in Germany and Enriquez in Tijuana, Mexico.
“I know how much this fight means,” Zamora said of her fight Saturday night. “I know what it means to face a fighter like Melissa. The fight represents a world title and it has been given to me at the right moment.”
Juarez vs Calvo II
Also on the card will be the much anticipated rematch between flyweight contender Lourdes “Pequeña Lulu” Juarez (23-2, 3KO) and Jackie Calvo (11-2-2, 1KO) in a scheduled flyweight ten rounder.
They first faced each other in late 2014 with Juarez, younger sister of Mariana Juarez, winning a controversial six-round split decision. Since then Juarez has gone 17-0 with a no contest and two knockouts with Calvo also going undefeated with a ledger of 11-0-2, 1KO since the fight.
“I have always prepared myself the best I could since my debut,” Juarez said. “We have learned from each fight, I feel better prepared. Now I have a strength and conditioning coach, a nutritionist and now we are going to win more convincingly. We are going to give a good fight and we are going to win.”
A win by Calvo places her on the international scene so now she says she is more than ready to get the win.
“I feel this is my time, I am going to show what I am made of so I can get a world title opportunity. I am better now; I am not the same fighter. I have matured as a person, as a fighter, you have seen it in my fights, I have given better fights and this won’t be the exception,” Calvo said.
The Juarez vs Calvo II fight is also programmed to be televised by Televisa.