New Decade and New Expectations with Shields, Napoleon and Crews-Dezurn, plus more Female Fight News
By David A. Avila
American stars kick off the new decade with Claressa Shields, Franchon Crews-Dezurn and Alicia Napoleon Espinosa headlining world title fights this weekend.
Could this be the Roaring 20s for female prizefighting?
Shields (9-0) seeks to grab a third division world title when she finally meets Ivana Habazin (20-3) in the prize ring on Friday Jan. 10 at Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City. Showtime will televise the clash live.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist Shields, 24, seeks to join male fighters Vasyl Lomachenko and Kosei Tanaka (12 fights) at 23 years old among those capturing three division world titles in the fewest amount of fights.
Ukraine’s Lomachenko grabbed three division world titles in his 12th fight when he stopped Jorge Linares by knockout on May 2018. He was 30 years old but had a wealth of amateur experience when he won the featherweight, super featherweight and lightweight titles.
Japan’s Tanaka captured three division world titles in his 12th fight too on September 2018 at 23 years old. The Japanese fighter based in Nagoya grabbed the minimum weight, light flyweight and flyweight world titles.
Shields at age 24 aims to be the youngest female to win three division world titles in the fewest amount of fights when she finally meets Habazin in Atlantic City. This is their third attempt at meeting in the boxing ring.
An injury to Shields scuttled their first scheduled encounter last summer and then an attack on Habazin’s trainer canceled the second attempt this past October. Even this third attempt was on shaky grounds with the Croatian fighter looking for different contractual terms.
“After our fight was cancelled, I stayed active and only put on about 10 pounds. I’ve been down in Florida for the last six or seven weeks. It’s been hard work. I’ve pushed myself and I’m not taking Habazin lightly,” said Shields.
Habazin, 30, has the IBO middleweight world title recognized in Europe and has shown to be a powerful puncher who went the distance against welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus in 2014. She has announced on social media a knockout will happen.
“I feel better than ever and can’t wait to step in the ring again,” said Habazin, 30, who also seeks a third division world title to add to the welterweight and middleweight titles she previously captured.
On the same fight card, a second female world title clash features New York City’s Napoleon-Espinosa (12-1, 7 KOs) versus Sweden’s powerful Elin Cederroos (7-0, 4 KOs) for both the WBA and IBF super middleweight world titles on the undercard at Atlantic City.
Napoleon-Espinosa, 33, faces her stiffest test since Tori Nelson who was the last to defeat her. Cederroos, 34, has power and decent hand speed but Napoleon has the better agility. Both are known for punching power but the New Yorker may need to rely more on her boxing skills in this match up. The fight will be the opening bout on Showtime.
Mark Taffet, who manages Shields, said on social media that if Napoleon and Shields emerge victorious a showdown with the Olympian could occur later in the year. Napoleon already has a super welterweight title and the super middleweight title. A showdown with Shields would be incentive for Napoleon to go for a third division world title in a middleweight title fight. It’s a perfect fight for New York.
Saturday night is Crews
Another championship test occurs with WBC and WBO super middleweight titlist Franchon Crews-Dezurn (6-1, 2 KOs) defending against Mexico’s Alejandra Jimenez (12-0-1, 9 KOs) on Saturday Jan. 11, at San Antonio, Texas. DAZN will stream the world title fight live.
Crews-Dezurn was set to face Jimenez this past September but the Mexican champion was allegedly unable to obtain a visa to enter this country from Mexico. Jimenez dropped down from the heavyweight division where she held the world title because of a dearth of challenges.
Now Jimenez is stepping into the ring for the first time as a super middleweight where Crews holds two world titles. The last time the Mexican fighter was in the ring was nearly a year ago. She has power and skill.
Though Jimenez dropped out of the contest that took place at the Dignity Health Sports Complex last September, Crews still fought. Maricela Cornejo who stepped in as a replacement and the two former foes lit up the arena with blow after blow. Though Crews had defeated Cornejo a year earlier by a large margin, this time the Mexican-American fighter came in with a more offensive approach and the fans benefited from the exciting super middleweight warfare for 10 rounds.
Crews prefers wars.
“I went through a lot with this fight,” said Crews. “The best is yet to come.”
More Female Fight News
On Saturday Jan. 11, lightweights Maria Celeste Sosa (0-0) and Lucrecia Manzur (0-0) debut at Buenos Aires.
On Sunday Jan.12, super featherweights JiaPing Teng (0-0) and HeXiu Wang (0-0) debut in a four round fight at Changsha.
On Saturday Jan.11, featherweights Eda Essaoudi (3-0) and Nana Dokadze (1-3) meet in a four round bout at Dorsten.
Miyo Yoshida (14-1) defeated China’s Li Ping Shi (5-3) by unanimous decision after 10 rounds on Tuesday Dec. 31. The WBO super flyweight title fight took place at Tokyo. It was Yoshida’s first defense of the title. Also, Yume Hirayama (5-0) beat Marina Sayama (4-2-1) by decision after six rounds for Japan flyweight title.
Nina Pavlovic (5-2-1) won by decision after six rounds versus Aleksandra Ivanovic (0-1) on Monday Dec. 30. The lightweight match was held in Becej. Also, Ksenija Medic (1-18-2) knocked out Miona Vujosevic (0-1) in the first round of a lightweight match.
Leslie Pope (4-0) won by decision after four rounds versus Sarah Rueda (0-1) on Saturday Jan. 4. The super welterweight fight took place at Jefferson City, Missouri. Pope, 36, fights out of Kansas City. Rueda, 33, fights out of Oklahoma.
On Friday Jan. 10, super welterweights Claressa Shields (9-0) and Ivana Habazin (20-3) meet 10 rounds for the vacant WBC and WBO world titles at Atlantic City, New Jersey. Also, super middleweights Alicia Napoleon (12-1) and Elin Cederroos 7-0) fight 10 rounds for the WBA and IBF world titles.