Top 30 under 30 Female Prizefighters Part I
By Felipe Leon
Female boxing in its present move is on the upswing. In this troubling year there is no denying some of the best fights we’ve seen behind closed doors have been with two women facing each other inside a ring. There was a time one of the biggest critiques of the female fight game was the depth of the talent pool but after two Olympic cycles that is no longer the case. There is no denying in some weight classes there is a need of more competition but in others the pool is overflowing.
In mid-2020 the average age of the top 10 as chosen by the Boxing Writers Association of America is 34 with 60% 35-year-old or more with only one on the list, Claressa Shields, under the age of 30.
The good news is every year there are more young women taking part in the amateurs and many of them making the leap to the professional ranks.
The future is bright and here is a list of the biggest and brightest names who we can look for to make some of the biggest fights in the upcoming months and years:
- CLARESSA SHIELDS (10-0, 2KO) SUPER WELTERWEIGHT – The 25-year-old Shields is the most accomplished fighter in the pros today no matter the gender. After finishing up an amateur career with two gold medals, the most by any other American boxer, Shields has captured a closet full of belts in four short years. After unifying two belts at 168lbs, she unified the division at 160 and is now looking to do the same at 154. It will be interesting to see what she does after that.
- TERRI HARPER (10-0-1, 5KO) SUPER FEATHERWEIGHT – At 23 years old, Harper is even younger than Shields but not as accomplished. She is the WBC world champion at 130 pounds which is nothing to shake a stick at. One of the most popular female fighters in her native United Kingdom, Harper has major fights in the near future including perhaps one against her arch-nemesis Mikaela Mayer as long as the American captures the WBO strap in her next fight.
- DINA THORSLUND (14-0, 6KO) SUPER BANTAMWEIGHT – The biggest name in Thorslund’s resume is the very respected Alicia Ashley who she beat for the WBC interim 122-pound title. In her next fight she captured the vacant WBO crown and has defended it once with one on the horizon. Popular in her native Denmark, Thorslund, 26, in time can be one of the most popular female fighters in Europe.
- SENIESA ESTRADA (19-0, 8KO) LIGHT FLYWEIGHT – There is no denying the talent of the 28-year-old Estrada. A fighter since before puberty, her career did not take off until she signed with Golden Boy Promotions. Since then she has faced a good slew of fighters, obviously with the exception of her last fight, and even scored a win over fellow amateur standout and Olympic bronze medalist Marlen Esparza. Estrada currently holds the interim WBA flyweight title and the silver WBC 108-pound belts. She wants world titles next and she is ranked #2 and #1 at light flyweight by the WBA and WBC respectively, we should expect that soon.
- YESENIA GOMEZ (17-5-3, 6KO) LIGHT FLYWEIGHT – Gomez has held the WBC 108-pound green and gold belt since 2008 when she defeated veteran Esmeralda Moreno. She’s defended it three times since then. At only 24, she has a lot of career left despite being a pro for nine years. With most of the biggest names in Mexico, Juarez, Nava, Chavez and Zamora, on the back nine of their careers, if Gomez keeps winning she can take part of the mantle.
- KENIA ENRIQUEZ (23-1, 9KO) LIGHT FLYWEIGHT – Enriquez, 26, picked up steam early in her career by capturing the NABF light flyweight title followed by the WBO’s 112-pound strap. She lost the momentum after losing that title in her first defense against Melissa McMorrow and fighting sporadically in the last three years despite capturing the interim WBC light flyweight title. Now she must corral the full-fledged champion Yesenia Gomez into a fight to get back her mojo.
- EVELYN BERMUDEZ (12-0-1, 3KO LIGHT FLYWEI9:42 AMGHT – At 24 Bermudez, part of the triple threat of sisters from Argentina, is one of the youngest champions on the list. She holds the IBF version of the crown which she captured with a unanimous decision over veteran Vanesa Taborda in late ’08. She suffered a bit of a hiccup in her last fight, a draw against Silvia Torres, in her first fight out of South America. Hopefully we get to see her on this side of the border soon. Seniesa Estrada anyone?
- GUADALUPE MARTINEZ (20-9, 6KO) SUPER FLYWEIGHT – Of everyone on this list, the 28-year-old Martinez might be the biggest surprise. Considered a tough opponent, she defeated the long-reigning champion Zulina Muñoz in ’07. Since then she has become one of the most fan-friendly fighters in her native Mexico in five defenses including wins over former champions Jessica Chavez and Yulihan Luna. With the WBA version of the 115-pound crown held by fellow Mexican Maribel Ramirez, there is a fight that can raise her profile even more and perhaps entice international fighters to challenger her in her backyard.
- JESSICA NERY PLATA (25-2, 3KO) LIGHT FLYWEIGHT – The current interim WBA light flyweight champion is a fighter to be reckoned with. Trained by the legendary Nacho Beristain, her only two losses have been to world class opponents, the aforementioned Kenia Enriquez and Esmeralda Moreno. At 26 she has enough time to collect more belts, even full-fledged world title ones, while stringing together wins which she has since her last loss in late 2007.
- MONSERRAT ALARCON (13-4-2) ATOMWEIGHT – Alarcon, 26, might be what the 102-pound division needs. One of the most ignored divisions in the sport, Alarcon holds the WBA atomweight world title after capturing the WBO 108-pound strap with a come from behind win in Japan over local favorite Nana Yoshikawa in 2017. With a brave never-say-die style, Alarcon might be able to entice the world-class Japanese opponents to fly over the Pacific Ocean to face her on Mexican TV.
- CHANTELLE CAMERON (12-0, 7KO) LIGHTWEIGHT – At 29 we might soon see Cameron on top of the lightweight division. An amateur standout from the United Kingdom, hopefully she is ready to come out of Katie Taylor’s shadow and challenge the Irish star for the 135-pound throne. Currently she holds the silver version of the WBC crown and is ranked #2 by the WBA so if Taylor stays at lightweight, she must contend with Cameron soon enough.
- YOKASTA VALLE (20-2, 9KO) MINIMUMWEIGHT – After her stint on her country’s version of Dancing with the Stars Yokasta Valle, the current IBF minimumweight champion, has become one of the most popular athletes of Costa Rica. Looking to take the baton from local super star Hanna Gabriels, the 28-year-old is not afraid to stamp her passport to get the major fights she wants. She has her sights set on the United Sates by signing to a local southern California promoter and hopefully for all of us, she gets her wish.
- SILVIA TORRES (20-2-2, 7KO) LIGHT FLYWEIGHT – Ranked in the top ten by all the sanctioning bodies that bother to rank women, here is looking at you WBO, Torres is one of the best technical fighters Mexico has to offer. The younger sister of legendary super star Ana Maria Torres, Silva, 29, has held the interim WBA light flyweight. She needs to re-steer the shop since losing her last fight and two of her last five but she has the talent and ability to do it.
- YAMILETH MERCADO (15-2, 4KO) SUPER BANTAMWEIGHT – at 22, Mercado is the second youngest member of this list. A pro since 16, Mercado is another Mexican fighter not afraid to travel overseas to achieve her dreams. She challenged for the WBC title in ’18 dropping a controversial decision to Fatuma Zarika in Kenya but with powerhouse Zanfer behind her, she was able to entice Zarika to Mexico late last year to capture the green and gold strap. A mega fight against a legendary veteran might be on the horizon which can elevate her profile win, lose or draw.
- TINA RUPPRECHT (10-0-1, 3KO) MINIMUMWEIGHT – The 28-year-old German is the current WBC minimum world champion with wins over two other members of this overall list. An amateur standout in Germany she fights sporadically as a pro with 10 fights in the last six years with only one, in Russia, outside of her native country. The fact she competes in a sparse weight class, it would help if she and her team would be willing to travel outside of Europe to face the best in the world. A rematch against Valle would be what the boxing world needs.
(Illustration by Felipe Leon)