What Female Boxing Needs to Succeed and Grow
By David A. Avila
Germany’s Christina Hammer returns to the boxing ring on Saturday when she faces Elene Sikmashvili in a middleweight contest in Berlin.
If she wins, as most undoubtedly she will, Hammer is poised to face America’s Claressa Shields sometime in April. Their clash will be the most important fight in female boxing history if televised.
So far, though some female fights have been televised, the needle hasn’t raised much in terms of fan interest.
Don’t blame it on Shields who electrified viewers in her clash with Hanna Gabriels last June. For one of the few times in the last three years two women of near equal talent met each other in the boxing ring. It was an extremely competitive match and female prizefighting needs that.
Showtime, DAZN, ESPN, FOX and HBO allowed female boxing to be seen on its respective outlets but only a few competitive fights have been matched. Instead viewers were forced to watch one-sided fights that bored the public to tears.
Another problem according to Sue Fox, head of Women’s Boxing Archive Network (WBAN), is the inconsistency of female bouts televised.
“We need more consistency of female bouts, even on the smaller type boxing events. We see so many boxing events, with not one female bout,” said Fox who is a former fighter and has been covering female boxing as a journalist longer than any others. “I believe consistency of having them exposed on any and all boxing cards would help.”
Recently, I spoke with a long-time promoter who has seen female boxing come and go and come back again. His response was basically fans don’t want to see female boxing at this point. But he had no answer for why it’s successful in Mexico where females fight on the main events on television. A female boxer like Mariana Juarez has more viewers on Mexican television than a male world champion like Emanuel Navarrete. Even younger sister Lourdes Juarez has more fans though she does not have a world title belt.
Visibility has a lot to do with success for female prizefighting. But will the networks and promoters take a chance?
“Not only is the talent level there among the ladies, but the marketability is there as well. At this point, there is no excuse for women’s boxing being ignored. The UFC proved that fans will pay to watch women fighting. Now we’ll see if boxing will follow suit and get with the times,” said Tom Gerbasi who works for Ring Magazine and UFC.
Gerbasi, Fox and others believe female boxing can and will succeed if given the platform on a consistent basis and with background stories on the female fighters.
“Women have to be featured more prominently with stories when they are on the big cards,” said WBAN’s Fox.
Fighters want too much
Of course promoters and TV networks executives are not solely to blame. More than a few prominent female fighters have simply priced themselves out of a TV fight. Instead of watching Cecilia Braekhus versus Kali Reis or Layla McCarter, fans were forced to watch a one-sided shellacking by the welterweight queen over Aleksandra Lopes. Many fighters asked for too much money because it was being shown on HBO.
It’s all about a fighter’s marketability. If fans don’t know who you are, a fighter can’t ask for $1million dollars. If a main event fighter can’t bring 6,000 fans to an arena they have no ticket value or TV value. It’s as simple as that.
Fans also want to see a fighter they know is good. Only a handful of female fighters are easily recognized by fans around the world. If a fighter doesn’t have this kind of fame they can’t ask for the moon. It’s like a bit actor wanting the same money as Scarlett Johansson.
Viewers watching on TV also want to see a competitive match where both fighters have an equal chance. Styles make fights in female boxing too. Nobody wants to see Katie Taylor fight another opponent who has no chance of beating her. It would be different if she were knocking foes out with one-punch, but instead we see amateurish five-punch combinations with no power behind them. Taylor versus Layla McCarter, Amanda Serrano or Delfine Persoon would give fans an electrifying fight, but so far – with the exception of McCaskill – promoters keep her fighting 10 to 1 underdogs.
“It all comes down to promoters and television networks being willing to take a chance on the sport,” said Gerbasi who saw the rise of Ronda Rousey when she was given an opportunity with UFC.
Hammer and Shields
This Saturday, WBO middleweight champion Hammer gets an opportunity to shake out the rust against Sikmashvili in a Berlin boxing ring. After that, the tall German fighter will be matched against Shields in a middleweight unification bout that seems certain to be an interesting mesh between two skilled fighters.
So far Shields has been one of the few fighters willing to fight anyone, anytime. It’s what female boxing desperately needs.
“I’ll do anything to make women’s boxing better,” Shields said recently.
It’s a major reason she’s the highest paid female American prizefighter and most recognized.
More Female Fight News
Florencia Juarez (2-0) beat Antonella Molina (0-3) by decision after four roundson Friday Feb. 1. The bantamweight fight took place in Buenos Aires.
On Saturday Feb. 9, featherweights Madison Blakely (0-2) and Ann Castro (0-1) meet in a four round bout at Peterborough, Ontario.
Li Ping Shi (4-2) defeated Xiao Lin He (0-1) by decision after four rounds on Thursday Jan. 31. The super bantamweight match was held at Xi An.
Yokasta Valle (16-2) defeated Valeria Mejia (0-4) to win the vacant XXXXX title by unanimous decision after 10 rounds on Saturday Feb. 2. The light flyweight title fight took place at Hatillo.
On Saturday Feb. 9. Middleweights Katarina Singh (2-1-1) and Visila Kolitapa (1-1-2) meet in a four round bout at Nadi.
Lotta Loikkanen (5-0) won by third round knockout over Viktorija Simonova (2-1) on Saturday Feb. 2. The flyweight fight was held at Joensuu.
Sanna Turunen (5-2-1) defeated Marija Vukovic (0-9) by unanimous decision after six rounds on Saturday Feb. 2. The middleweight fight took place at Vantaa.
Justine Lallemand (7-0) was the winner by unanimous decision after six rounds versus Snezana Siljkovic (1-2-1) on Saturday Feb. 2. The flyweight match was held in Sedan.
On Saturday Feb. 9, middleweights Christina Hammer (23-0) and Elene Sikmashvili (8-7) meet in an eight round clash at Berlin. This is Hammer’s first fight since a recent diagnosis of a stomach ailment that forced a cancellation of her bout with Claressa Shields last November.
On Saturday Feb. 9, flyweights Valeria De Francisco (1-0) and Francesca Paglia (0-1) meet in a six round fight at Milan.
On Sunday Feb. 10, minimum weights Yumi Narita (3-2-3) and Chie Higano (7-7-1) meet in a six round bout for the Japan title at Himeji, Hyogo. Also, featherweights Miki Matsuda (3-5) and Kana Fukuda (3-3-1) meet in a six round contest.
On Sunday Feb. 10, flyweights Yumemi Ikemoto (6-1) and Gretel De Paz (5-4-1) meet in a six round clash at Kawanehoncho, Shizuoka. Also, minimum weights Sachiko Kondo (1-3-1) and Natsumi Agu (0-0) meet in a four round bout.
On Saturday Feb. 9, super bantamweights Arely Rodriguez (0-2-1) and Jacqueline Silvestre (0-0) meet in a four round bout at Guanajuato.
On Saturday Feb. 9, featherweights Mary Romero (2-2) and Enerolisa De Leon (1-1-2) meet in a six round bout at Malaga.
On Monday Feb. 11, lightweights Miriam Gutierrez (8-0) and Kamilla Boka (3-1) meet in an eight round clash at Madrid. Also, flyweights Cristina Garrobo (4-1) and Cristina Busuioc (0-0) meet in a six round fight.
On Saturday Feb. 9, super flyweights Cathy McAleer (1-0) and Sonia Klos (0-4) meet in a four round fight at Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Jessica Juarez (2-0) was the winner by majority decision after Kailyn Hansen (1-3) on Thursday Jan. 31. The super featherweight fight took place at Alpine, Calif.
On Saturday Feb. 9, flyweights Ava Knight (17-2-4) and Luna Torroba (12-9-2) meet in an eight round clash at Carson, California.