A Wish List 2019 Part II
By Felipe Leon
With the advent of new applications to view professional boxing, ESPN+ and DAZN, as well as staples such as Showtime, at least in the United States there have been more platforms for female boxing. For the sport to expand the fights the fans want to see need to be made. The best have to fight the best for the audience to keep growing.
In part I of this series we shared the fights we want to see from heavyweight to super featherweight. Now we will share the bouts female boxing needs to make from 102 to 126 pounds.
Jelena Mrdjenovich (38-10-2, 19KO) vs Heather Hardy (22-0, 4KO) – The kingpin of the division for years has been Canadian Mrdjenovich, who holds both the WBC and WBA titles, and any meaningful fight in the division needs to include her. For a time the fight everybody wanted to see was against Amanda Serrano but after that fight wasn’t able to be made we asked for a match up against Cindy Serrano instead who at the time held the WBO strap. Now NYC’s Heather Hardy holds it and although a Mrdjenovich vs Han fight has long been sought, the bigger fight for the sport would be against Hardy who recently grabbed the belt while fighting on HBO. Hardy has a pleasing style but Mrdjenovich has plenty of experience.
Honorable mention – The 126-pound category is still one of the most stacked in female boxing and any fight within the top 10 makes sense with even IBF super featherweight champion Maiva Hamadouche or title contender Melissa St. Vil dropping down to face a name opponent at featherweight would be enough.
Mariana Juarez (51-9-4, 18KO) vs Yazmin Rivas (39-10-1, 11KO) – Since the fight between veteran super star Juarez and Jackie Nava wasn’t able to be made in 2018 (more on that later), why not a fight against another Mexican veteran? Rivas has been fighting as a professional since the age of 13 and although they have been hovering around each other Juarez and Rivas have never met inside a ring. It is no secret Juarez wants to be the first Mexican female fighter to capture four titles in as many divisions and she has stated one of her goals is to challenge the current WBC 122-pound champion Fatima Zarika but why not make it more interesting by snatching Rivas’ WBA strap?
Mariana Juarez (51-9-4, 18KO) vs Jackie Nava (35-4-3, 16KO) – Once seemed like a done deal for 2018 now is not such a sure thing even for 2019. It went as far as both fighting on same card back in August with the fight announced for the fall but talks crumbled between their competing promoters. Nava went ahead and picked up the interim WBA 118-pound title to entice Juarez even more with the fight. Like the Braekhus-McCarter fight at welterweight, this fight needs to happen.
Honorable mention – There might not be a more feared fighter out of Argentina than 29-year-old Daniela “Bonita” Bermudez. She has fought the best from 108-122 pounds and in her last fight defeated the legendary “Tigresa” Acuña just because she could to capture the IBF 122-pound strap. She left it vacant and went back south to 118 pounds where she holds the WBO title. Any fight with her is worth watching.
Tyriesha Douglas (13-1-1, 6KO) vs Any Champion – In last year’s list we asked for Ms. Douglas to get some love in the United States. Nobody listened. She only fought once against the tough Helen Joseph earning a majority draw in a ten rounder in June and since then she has seen no action. Her only loss was at flyweight when she challenged the then IBF champ Leonela Paola Yudica in enemy territory, Argentina, where you have score a KO to get a draw as a foreigner. Somebody has to get behind this young lady, a major promoter. Would be a shame she never gets a legitimate opportunity for a world title. She has what it takes to beat any of the current world champions.
Honorable mention – The super flyweight division is chockful of Mexican talent with Diana “Bonita” Fernandez making a solid ascent up the ranks. She lost a losing bid for a world title against Debora Dionicius in Argentina and then a hotly contested fight to the house fighter in Lourdes Juarez. Would love to see her against Isabel Millan.
Ibeth Zamora (30-6, 12KO) vs Jessica Chavez (30-4-3, 4KO) – Despite the deep talent pool in Mexico from 102 to 118 pounds, Zamora and Chavez are the queens of the street. Between them they have faced everybody in those weight classes and some of them more than once. There were two fights between them with the hard charging Zamora taking both wins. When Chavez pulled away from the sport to have her baby daughter Zamora filled her shoes at flyweight and won the vacant title with a win over former champion Melissa McMorrow. It’s expected for Chavez to come back in 2019 and look to reclaim her throne. Will it be third times a charm and she finally beats Zamora, or will the current champ keep dominating?
Honorable mention – Long considered the best female Japanese fighter of all time Naoka Fujioka needs a big fight in 2019. At 43 years old she probably doesn’t have much left and she has been chasing a big name fight for quite some time even going to the extent of training some of the time in the United States.
Yesica Bopp (35-1, 16KO) vs Seniesa Estrada (15-0, 5KO) – The legendary Bopp has said without hesitation she wants to fight in the United States at least once before her pending retirement from the sport. The current WBA champion has named Marlen Esparza, who she defeated in the amateurs, as the choice opponent for her U.S. debut, but now that the bronze medalist is out of commission for the time being, why not Estrada? The speedy Estrada has the experienced developed in the amateurs despite having less than 20 pro fights and just picked up a fringe strap in her last fight. She is very popular, has fought on U.S. TV and is with a major promoter, Golden Boy Promotions. The fight is intriguing since both are very athletic and take advantage of that with their styles.
Anabel Ortiz (28-3, 4KO) vs Silvia Torres (19-1-1, 6KO) – Ortiz has been the WBA champion since 2013 making her one of the longest reigning active champions in the business. It says here she has over stayed her welcome and needs to move up out of the 105 pound division. Torres, after holding an interim WBA title at 108 pounds, dropped down to the strawweight division in her last fight and now is campaigning in the division. Both are with the same promoter Zanfer so the fight would not be hard to be make. Torres is the younger sister of Mexican great Ana Maria Torres which adds to the intrigue.
Louisa Hawton (9-2, 5KO) vs Brenda Flores (15-4-1, 3KO) II – Although the actual WBC world champion at 102 pounds is the Czech Fabiana Bytyqi, the fight between Flores and Hawton in September was surely a candidate for Fight of the Year. Flores won a controversial split decision and the interim belt, surprisingly a couple of weeks before Bytyqi fought for the vacant title. Flores didn’t make the 102-pound weight limit for the fight but was still given the opportunity to fight for the title. In the scheduled rematch, after claiming a severe cold she pulled out of the fight earlier this month and was stripped of the belt. Hawton defeated a 2-1 opponent for the again vacant strap and now she is the interim champ. Confused? Us too, so the only thing left is for them to fight again.