Juarez and Nava: Two Worlds On a Collision Course
By Felipe Leon
The Mt. Rushmore of Mexican female fighters can’t be chiseled without the faces of Mariana Juarez (49-9-4, 18KO) and Jackie Nava (33-4-3, 14KO). Both women have accomplished everything possible inside a boxing ring and then some. With multiple world titles between them in a number of weight categories, the two might be the most decorated Mexican female fighters in history.
Both north of 30 years of age with three children among them, two Nava girls and one of Juarez, a fight between them is still big news not only in Mexico but also in the world of female boxing in general.
After months of talks between them and circling around each other, the stars now have aligned and it looks we will be able to see them in the same ring before the end of the year.
“There isn’t anything personal among us,” Juarez said at the kick off press conference for this Saturday night’s fight card. “There has always been talk of us facing each other. The problem was that we campaigned in different weight classes. Now things are different since Jackie decided to come back and for that I thank her.”
After capturing a title early in her career at 118 pounds, Nava has mostly campaigned at 122 pounds while Juarez has slowly been climbing up from flyweight. It has been said when they do face each other the fight will be at 118 pounds for Juarez’s WBC world title in that division.
First they must build up the fight by appearing on the same fight card this Saturday night from the majestic Mexico Arena in Mexico City. To prove how big this fight is in Mexico, the fight card will be broadcast live in prime time by not only the biggest television network in the country, Televisa, but also by the second biggest, Azteca.
Despite being the elder of the two, by only three months, Mexico City’s Juarez has been the most active since Nava’s last fight in early 2017. Juarez has fought five times in the year and a half winning all of them spearheaded by her triumphant unanimous decision over Catherine Phiri to capture her third world title, the WBC bantamweight strap, in as many weight categories.
After beating Phiri for the world title in her hometown in front of nearly half a million spectators at the legendary Zocalo, Juarez has successfully defended it four times against the likes of Terumi Nuki, Alesia Graf, Gabriela Bouvier and Carolina Arias, looking better and better with each outing.
Nava, who moonlights as a congresswoman in Mexico and thus her absence from the ring, last saw action in February of 2017 when she scored a unanimous decision over Ana Maria Lozano to capture the vacant WBC International super bantamweight title.
“I want to see how my body responds,” Nava said of her first fight in 18 months. “I want to see how I feel inside the ring. I am ready to come back and who better to test myself than against who put me on canvas the first time we faced each other? I am looking to get this win so I can look forward to that other big fight.”
Despite her exodus from the squared circle the Mexican boxing audience can’t forget the “Aztec Princess”.
After toiling in near obscurity mostly in her hometown of Tijuana, Mexico, Nava jumped up to national and international prominence after her two all-out wars against fellow Mexican warrior Ana Maria Torres in 2011. Despite fighting to a draw in the first and losing the second, Nava was never seen as the loser of the fights and was regarded as one of the toughest Mexican, male or female, to ever strap on a pair of gloves by the demanding Mexican public.
Despite holding world titles before those fights, Nava rose in stardom in Mexico and around the world while amassing a 9-0, 3KO, record since her last loss. Nava captured the WBA and WBC 122-pound titles and defended them numerous times along the way.
This Saturday night both women will take their first step towards the mega fight every female fight fan has been salivating over since it was first mentioned a couple of years ago.
In hopes of not putting the super clash in jeopardy, both women will be facing foes they have faced and defeated in the past. Juarez will be facing for the second time the aforementioned Nuki (10-3, 7KO), the fighter she first defended her newly acquired green and gold strap. Juarez defeated the Japanese back in the summer of 2017 via a unanimous decision.
Since then the 29-year-old Nuki has gone 1-1, 1KO losing to Argentinean Debora Anahi Dionicius in a bid for the IBF super flyweight title in South America and then going back home to stop Thai Wassana Kamdee in three in her last fight earlier this year.
“I think we did a great fight against her,” Juarez said Nuki. “She didn’t know where the punches were coming from. I don’t look for the knock out; I think it comes by itself. We are working hard and we are going to climb into the ring at one hundred percent. We are going to work our game plan but we have to be careful because she has dynamite in her gloves. I assure you it will be a good fight and the titles stays in Mexico.”
Nava first faced Sanchez in May of 2014 and despite stopping her in seven, she struggled.
The Tijuana fighter went down in the first but returned the favor twice sending Sanchez down in the fourth a pair of times. Nava dropped Sanchez again in the sixth and seventh before the fight was stopped nearly a minute into the round.
“She dropped me in the first round but we know we can beat her,” Nava said of Sanchez. “This is the first opportunity to be in the ring in this comeback. There is a more important fight on the horizon but first we must focus on this because this is the first step.”
Since that fight Sanchez of Venezuela has been active in five fights going 3-2. Three of those five fights have been against Colombian Liliana Palmera. Sanchez dropped a split decision in early 2015 for Palmera’s WBA super bantamweight title. In the return bout, Sanchez pulled off the upset and captured the title but in the rubber match Palmera scored a unanimous decision last year in November.
With both winning their bouts this Saturday night it will surely set the table for their match up later this year in what will surely rival the talked about Claressa Shields vs Christina Hammer as the biggest female fight to be made in the sport today.
“I don’t know if they will be wars like the one I had against Torres but I am sure it will be a good fight,” Nava said of the nearly sure thing against Juarez. “She is not a brawler. I have to see the mutual opponents we have faced and the way they fought her.”
Juarez also had something to say about the fight against Nava, “I think God’s plan is perfect. This fight is coming at a moment when both of us have a lot of experience. I think we can give a great fight for the fans. I think we can show how much we have progressed in our careers. I see it as a female version of Marco Antonio Barrera against Erik Morales.”
In that trilogy, Barrera of Mexico City won two out of three against Tijuana’s Morales.