The 10 Most Game-Changing Fights of 2018
By Felipe Leon
The last 12 months were exciting ones for female boxing with new barriers being broken by women in the ring. The sport is evolving as well in the way consumers enjoy it with all the emerging streaming apps including DAZN, ESPN+ as well as more traditional terrestrial networks. Although female boxing has put their stamp on all those different platforms it looks to do more to elevate its presence not only within boxing but as well as in the world of sports.
The next list of 10 international bouts are those which we deemed helped take the sport towards that direction whether it was being broadcast on a new platform, the return to the ring of an icon or a feat that elevated the name of a fighter in 2018.
Saturday, Feb 17th – Arely Munciño vs Monserrat Alarcon – Despite being a world champion many might say Munciño is not in the top five current female Mexican fighters. Her claim to fame is to be the only south-of-the-border women fighter to capture all four major sanctioning belts at one time or another in the same category. Having held the WBC, IBF and WBA titles in the past all she needed was the WBO. She got it with a majority decision over the tough Monserrat “Raya” Alarcon. With the win she has secured her place in female boxing history. Good enough.
Saturday, May 5th – Cecilia Braekhus vs Kali Reis – After more than 40 years broadcasting boxing at its highest level, premium cable network HBO decided to jump into the female boxing business. The catch being it was their last year in the business. Never the less the fight between the considered best pound for pound Braekhus and the game Reis turned out to be a great example of what women’s boxing can offer. The fight opened the door for three more female bouts on HBO later in the year.
Saturday, August 11th – Jackie Nava vs Alys Sanchez – After nearly a year and a half layoff because of her day job as a Mexican congresswoman Nava came back to defeat Sanchez for the vacant WBA 118-pound title. Nava hoped the belt would be enticing enough to get WBC champ Mariana “Barbie” Juarez in the ring and it seemed like it would until the proposed fight in November fell apart. Nava still holds the belt and is still looking for one last mega fight against Juarez hopefully in 2019.
Saturday, September 8th – Amanda Serrano vs Yamila Esther Reynoso – it is no secret Serrano has made a business of picking up world titles, mainly the WBO’s, in whatever weight category she sees fit. With a unanimous decision over Argentina’s Reynoso, Serrano captured her seventh major world title in six categories setting a world record. She is a threat to anybody from 115-140 pounds and wouldn’t be surprised if she sees fit even at welterweight.
Thursday, September 13th – Franchon Crews Dezurn vs Maricela Cornejo – Just a few days before the mega re-do between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs. Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, the 31 year-old Crews Dezurn jumped onto the world stage with a majority decision win over the ultra-popular Maricela Cornejo for the vacant WBC super-middleweight title live on ESPN. The fight put Crews Dezurn on the map, let’s see if she stays there.
Saturday, October 6th – Jessica McCaskill vs Erica Anabella Farias – Another up and comer who made a big splash in 2018 was Chicago’s McCaskill who in her hometown dethroned the long-reigning WBC super lightweight champion Farias of Argentina. McCaskill not only beat Farias but did it in Chicago in front of her hometown. McCaskill became the first woman world champion from the windy city.
Saturday, October 20th– Katie Taylor vs Cindy Serrano – Taylor, the WBA and IBF lightweight world champion, faced her stiffest test on paper this night in Serrano, the older sister of the aforementioned Amanda. Despite her outstanding amateur pedigree and two world titles in less than 10 fights, the biggest critic against Taylor has been the level of opposition. In Serrano she was facing a tough, experienced opponent whose only drawback was that she was technically smaller in size but that wasn’t obvious inside the ring. Taylor proved she is as good as the rest of the elite fighters in the sport.
Saturday, December 8th – Cecilia Braekhus vs Aleksandra Lopes, Claressa Shields vs Femke Hermans – The fights, two of them because both were featured, themselves left much to be desired as far as action on that chilly December night at the StubHub Center in Carson, CA. What made it special was the fact the tripleheader was opened and closed by a female fight on HBO. It was too little too late by the network that for four decades was considered the standard for boxing programming and received heaps of criticism but like always the network did things their way including their last boxing transmission ever.
Saturday, December 15th – Katie Taylor vs Eva Walhstrom – Taylor, coming off her win over Serrano, proved she was ready for much bigger things when she took on the undefeated WBC 130-pound champion from Finland. Like she did with Serrano, Taylor completed dominated Walhstrom on the DAZN at Madison Square Garden on the undercard of “Canelo” Alvarez vs Rocky Fielding giving women a spot on one of the year’s biggest cards.
Saturday, December 29th – Daniela Bermudez vs Yolis Marrugo Franco, Evelyn Bermudez vs Guadalupe Bautista – For years Argentina has been a breeding ground for top notch female fighters. The only problem is they are too high risk and not enough reward for anybody with a name to face them. That is exactly what is happening with the Bermudez sisters who on this night became the only current set of siblings to hold world titles. A bigger kicker? There is another sister who is making her way up the ranks and is expected to join the older Bermudez on the world stage.