Top Ten Fights for 2021
By Felipe Leon
2020 has been a difficult year for the whole world let alone the sport of boxing. Despite the pandemic female boxing has thrived with major events and fighters getting much needed exposure on huge platforms like ESPN and DAZN.
Like the rest of the world, it can only be expected for the upcoming year to be a better one with the sport building on the momentum it has enjoyed since this past summer when boxing in general came back.
Here is a list of the ten fights we want to see in 2021 in no particular order:
- Mikaela Mayer (14-0, 5KO) vs Maiva Hamadouche (22-1, 18KO) // Hyun Mi Choi (18-0-1, 4KO) vs Terri Harper (11-0-1, 6KO) // Winners Face Off – There is no doubt the super featherweight division is the hottest one in female boxing. Despite every one of these fights being a barnburner within itself, we are going to include the whole tournament as one. The mega fight to be made with the amount of back-and-forth on social media between all involved is Mayer of Los Angeles, CA, against Harper of England. First, they have to get through the tough French woman Hamadouche and the equally as rugged Mi Choi of South Korea respectively. If everything goes according to the plan, Mayer and Harper should face each other in the second half of 2021 to crown yet another unified and undisputed world champion in female boxing.
- Maricela Cornejo (13-4, 5KO) vs Raquel Miller (10-0, 4KO) – This fight has been bandied about for some quite some time. Cornejo has not seen action inside a ring since September of last year but she has been active on social media documenting her drop from super middleweight to around super welterweight which is impressive. Miller is the interim WBA 154-pound champion, capturing the title in her last fight via unanimous decision. There was talk of Miller challenging Hanna Gabriels of Costa Rica for the full-fledged version of the title but Miller should first take on someone with world title experience in Cornejo first. Both don’t hold their tongues in interviews or social media so the pre-fight banter should be as interesting as what goes down inside the ring.
- Jessica McCaskill (9-2, 3KO) vs Cecilia Braekhus (36-1, 9KO) – Chicago’s McCaskill pulled off the biggest win of the year and of her career by hard-nosing her way to a majority decision over the long-reigning Braekhus last August in one of the most anticipated fights of the year. The fight was a close one with Braekhus changing her style to appease new trainer Abel Sanchez. Braekhus was not sure if she would come back to boxing but now she is calling for the rematch in early 2021. McCaskill and her team have longed for another go-around with another undisputed champion in Katie Taylor, but it seems she must beat Braekhus more convincingly before she gets her wish.
- Yulihan Luna (20-3-1, 3KO) vs Jackie Nava (36-4-4, 16KO) – This past Halloween veteran Mariana “Barbie” Juarez had a lot more to worry about than merely a trick or treat. Luna came out like a bat out of hell from the opening bell and beat Juarez from pillar-to-post while handing out a boxing lesson. With a win over a Mexican legend already under her belt, why not make it two? Recently a match-up between Juarez and Tijuana’s Jackie Nava was talked about and scheduled before Covid-19 knocked it out this past May. With Juarez losing the WBC bantamweight belt to Luna, Nava now says she is not interested in “Barbie” so why not give Luna a chance? Nava has stated numerous times she is close to retirement but does she have enough in the tank to beat Luna?
- Franchon Crews-Dezurn (6-1, 2KO) vs Christina Hammer (26-1, 12KO) – For Crews-Dezurn, 2020 didn’t really start how she wanted it even before the worldwide pandemic. In January she lost both her WBO and WBC world titles via split decision to former heavyweight world champion Alejandra Jimenez. When Jimenez tested positive for PEDs, Crews-Dezurn had to campaign to get her titles back without having to fight for them again. She succeeded as well as for the fight result to be changed to a No-Decision. The super middleweight division is not that deep with only a handful of names at the world-class level. Earlier this month another well-known name just jumped into the mix in former WBO middleweight champion Christina Hammer capturing a minor world title in Europe. It is no secret Crews-Dezurn is looking for a rematch against friend Claressa Shields which equates for the best purse opportunity in her career but a fight against Hammer, who Shields dominated in their much-anticipated fight in early 2019, would raise Crews-Dezurn profile especially if she could stop Hammer, a feat Shields didn’t accomplish.
- Elin Cederoos (8-0, 4KO) vs Alicia Napoleon (12-2, 7KO) II – Widely accepted as one of the fights of the year, the second time around needs to happen again and soon. The ten-round battle in January between the tough but inexperienced Cederoos of Sweden against New York’s relentless Napoleon set the tone for 2020 and it is only fair Napoleon gets another chance to win back her titles. The winner will cement herself as the best 168-pound of the moment.
- Claressa Shields (10-0, 2KO) vs Marie-Eve Dicaire (17-0) – There is no denying Shields is the face of female boxing in the Unites States. Despite the sizable inroads the sport has made this year with Shields not participating in a fight, it feels like something is missing. This fight against the current undefeated IBF super welterweight champion Dicaire of Canada was locked and loaded for May but it was scratched because of Covid. With Showtime abruptly turning its interest away from female boxing and Shields looking towards MMA in the near future, this fight needs to happen in 2021.
- Katie Taylor (17-0, 6KO) vs McCaskill/Braekhus Winner – Ireland’s Taylor wrapped an impressive year dominating the previously undefeated Miriam Gutierrez just last month and earlier this year she convincingly defeated former champion Delfine Persoon over 10 rounds. Taylor needs big game hunting in 2021 and who better than the winner of McCaskill vs Braekhus II? With one swift win over the winner, Taylor would capture her second undisputed crown in as many divisions solidifying her place as one of the best women to ever lace up a pair of gloves.
- Jelena Mrdjenovich (41-10-2, 19KO) vs Amanda Serrano (39-1-1, 29KO) – This fight should have happened years ago when it was first discussed but we aren’t going to wag our finger at it if it happens in 2021. Both secured wins on the same week earlier this month with Canada’s Mrdjenovich coming off a 15-month layoff while Serrano nearly a year. Serrano holds the interim WBC featherweight title while Mrdjenovich the full-fledged version with the sanctioning body surprisingly ordering the defense next. Both possess dynamite in their fists with Serrano the quicker of the two, after many years of accusations and false starts, this has a war written all of it that more than likely will not go the distance. One of the more anticipated fights of the next 12 months.
- Seniesa Estrada (19-0, 8KO) vs Evelyn Bermudez (13-0-1, 3KO) – While others in the know are calling for an Estrada vs Kim Klavel of Canada, the nurse by day might be a little too green to take on the much more experienced Estrada of East Los Angeles. Enter the 24-year-old Bermudez of Argentina who holds the IBF light flyweight title. One prong of the Bermudez sister-trident, Evelyn is following the footsteps of her older sister Daniela by racking up the wins and collecting belts. Evelyn has only traveled north once from her native Santa Fe, Argentina, which led to the only blemish of her record, a hotly contested draw against Silvia Torres in Mexico. The Bermudez sisters, or at least the Daniela and Evelyn while Roxana has yet to show any potential, are perhaps South America’s best kept secret and even tough veteran Yesica “Tutti” Bopp has not gotten the opportunity to fight in the United States, perhaps Evelyn Bermudez at this point can put up a better performance. It would be tough against Estrada who is considered one of the best in the smaller weight classes.