Lure of Big Fights in America Brings Yokasta and Others
(Photo by Al Applerose)
By David A. Avila
A full circle has completed when it comes to female prizefighting in the United States of America.
Fighters from around the world are headed to the US or America as most call it. The latest to arrive Yokasta Valle hails from Costa Rica where she had enjoyed massive fame in her country. A big fish in a little pond.
Yokasta, welcome to America.
Valle soundly defeated Southern California’s Lorraine Villalobos a tough customer with world title experience last weekend. She exhibited world class speed, toughness and endurance to a very vocal crowd of more than 8,000 at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
A stone’s throw from the original Disneyland.
The IBF minimumweight world titlist Valle just signed a four-fight contract with Golden Boy Promotions that has stacked its roster with many of the very top female fighters in the lower weight classes.
World champions Seniesa “Superbad” Estrada and Marlen Esparza top the list of female prizefighters that Los Angeles-based company Golden Boy Promotions signed years ago. Over the last year they have gobbled up world titles like Ms. PacMan.
Now fighters from around the world have taken notice and are heading toward American shores tout suite.
Back in the 1990s, it was a similar situation. America had finally allowed women to participate in amateur boxing and Christy Martin was knocking out opposition in the professional circuit. Women all over the world were paying attention and European fighters like Lucia Rijker packed their bags and headed toward the USA.
Female boxing was not allowed in United Kingdom, Mexico and other countries back in the 1990s. Mexican fighters like Mariana “Barby” Juarez crossed the border and ventured north to California to train and fight. Many others took the same path.
Women boxers were very popular on small club shows and were paid well to perform. They often received better purses than the men because of their ability to draw fans. Roy Englebrecht Promotions was one of the early pioneers in allowing women to regularly fight on his cards. He remained the only promoter to consistently feature women boxing.
Other promoters joined like Arnie Rosenthal who had numerous boxing cards with only women prizefighting.
But the popularity of women’s boxing dried up for one reason or another. Perhaps the biggest reason was lack of knowledge in the female fight game by promoters. Another was the lack of exposure. Finally, the pool of women fighters was very shallow back then.
Women fights were seldom televised and even fewer journalists covered their fights.
Meanwhile, as female boxing suffered in America, it began to thrive in Europe, especially in Germany where Regina Halmich and Daisy Lang were selling out arenas and doing well. They didn’t suffer from lack of exposure.
Soon, Mexico allowed female boxing and also began to televise their fights. For more than 10 years Mexican women’s boxing exploded and their success actually enticed several American fighters to sign contracts with Mexican promotion companies.
Other countries like Argentina, Japan, Sweden, and United Kingdom joined the frenzy and as female boxing’s popularity grew, the number of participants mushroomed too.
Very few people understand that many women like to fight. Though women found obstacles in professional boxing, no such obstacles faced women in mixed martial arts.
Ultimate Fighting Championship, the top MMA promotion group, had not included women in MMA at first. But when rival promoters enjoyed success featuring women, soon UFC looked for a female fighter to lead the way and they found Ronda Rousey.
Rousey had medaled in the 2008 Olympics in judo and then acquired enough MMA fighting skills to power her way through several foes in record time. UFC’s Dana White signed her and she continued to amaze fans with her skills, fighting persona and looks. She sold out several arenas along the way.
I was at a luncheon in North Hollywood when Rousey was first introduced by Dana White to a few journalists at a steak house. Immediately it was evident she had confidence and could communicate. When she headlined a UFC card at the Honda Center in Anaheim on February 2013, a raucous crowd of more than 12,000 showed up and saw her win.
Women’s prizefighting in America had arrived. Whether in MMA or boxing it was evident that a female fighter could draw massive crowds. Rousey proved that emphatically.
Still, boxing promoters doubted it.
Rumors had spread about the Olympic Games including female boxing. When it was finally approved in 2012, that re-ignited amateur female boxing and the numbers continue to grow. Gyms all over California have women boxing.
The 2012 London Olympics saw Claressa Shields, Katie Taylor and Marlen Esparza emerge out of those games and soon become professional boxing world champions. And it was British promoter Eddie Hearn with Matchroom Boxing who signed Taylor and several other top British women to contracts.
While other promoters doubted the marketability of women, it was Hearn who dived in and showcased Ireland’s Taylor to the world with boxing shows in New York and London. Other promoters claimed it could not be done. Hearn proved it could and Taylor became the first million-dollar female fighter in women’s boxing.
Not to be out-done, an American self-promoter named Jake Paul who successfully staged million dollar gates for his own fights, saw Amanda Serrano and signed her to his wagon. He propelled her to levels others could not and she became the second woman to earn a million-dollar purse.
Other women in American are now earning six figure paydays on a regular basis and the word is out. Its 1990s all over again but with social media powering bigger numbers and with live streaming allowing worldwide audiences, who knows how far women’s boxing will go now.
Yokasta Valle is just a recent fighter from outside of America who will be testing the market. Others are coming from Asia, South America and other parts of the world have arrived like Arely Mucino, Naoko Fujioka and Anabel Ortiz. Its going to be a very interesting period for female prizefighting.
More Female Fight News
Marianela Ramirez (10-7-2) defeated Laura Griffa (18-7) by unanimous decision after 10 rounds on Saturday June 11. The South American super bantamweight title fight was held at Cordoba.
Lorena Agoutborde (3-2-2) won by majority decision after six rounds against Lilian Silva (4-14-1) on Friday June 10. The featherweight bout took place at Buenos Aires.
On Friday June 17, light flyweights Maria Sol Baumstarh (4-6-1) and Alixa Adema (4-8-5) meet 10 rounds for the South American title at Buenos Aires.
On Saturday June 18, flyweights Tamara Demarco (10-4) and Gabriela Alaniz (12-0) meet 10 rounds for the WBO world title at Buenos Aires.
Krystina Jacobs (6-3) won by decision after six rounds against Sara Jalonen (2-2) on Saturday June 11. The Australian-Tasmanian super featherweight title match took place at Hobart, Tasmania.
On Saturday June 18, welterweights Enja Prest (2-1) and Jamie Endenden (1-1) meet eight rounds for Australian title at Yagoona, South Wales.
Calista Silgado (20-14-3) knocked out Daila Vasquez (0-2) in the third round on Saturday June 11. The featherweight fight was held at Santiago de Tolu.
Mexico’s Magali Lopez (21-6-2) defeated Victoire Piteau (9-2) by majority decision after 10 rounds on Saturday June 11. The WBC Silver super lightweight title match took place at Indre.
Chile’s Daniela Asenjo (12-3-3) defeated Casey Morton (10-3-3) by unanimous decision after 10 rounds on Tuesday June 7. The IBO super flyweight title fight was held at Paris. Asenjo formerly held the WBA super flyweight title.
On Saturday June 18, super lightweights Oshin Derieuw (15-0) and Elsa Hemat (4-6-2) meet six rounds at Nord.
On Saturday June 18, welterweights Dilar Kisikyol (6-0) and Stephanie Wirt (0-2) meet six rounds at Rostock.
On Thursday June 16, featherweights Kimika Miyoshi (16-13-1) and Akane Fujiwara (5-1) meet six rounds at Tokyo.
Venezuela’s Mayerlin Rivas (17-4-2) knocked out Karina Fernandez (17-7-1) in the fourth round on Friday June 10. The WBA super bantamweight title fight was held at Guadalajara. It was Mayerlin’s first defense of the title she won in Panama.
Paulette Valenzuela (14-2) defeated Clara Alcantara (5-7) by decision after eight rounds on Friday June 10. The super flyweight bout was held at Tijuana.
On Friday June 17, bantamweights Yulihan Luna Avila (23-3-1) and Jessica Gonzalez (8-5-2) meet 10 rounds for the WBC world title at Reynosa, Tamaulipas.
On Saturday June 18, featherweights Perla Lomeli (2-0) and Lidia Alvarez (1-1) meet four rounds at Mexicali.
Sazisiwe Simon (1-0) defeated Yolandi Gelderblom (0-1) by decision after four rounds on Saturday June 11. The lightweight bout took place at Gauteng.
Benjamat Phakra (10-17) knocked out Wilaiwan Naemkrathok (0-1) in the third round on Saturday June 11. The super bantamweight fight took place at Pathum Thani. Also, flyweight Khwunchit Khunya (3-11-1) beat Monthakarn Sapbang (0-1) by decision after six rounds.
Ebonie Jones (2-0-1) beat Bec Connolly (3-14) by decision after six rounds on Saturday June 11. The featherweight fight was held in London, England. Also, welterweight Laura Price (1-0) defeated Valgerdur Gudstensdottir (5-3) by decision after six rounds. Plus, super flyweight Shannon Ryan (2-0) won by decision over Gemma Ruegg (3-4).
On Friday June 17, flyweights Chloe Watson (2-0) and Fara El Bousairi (5-2) meet six rounds at Liverpool, England.
Costa Rica’s Yokasta Valle (25-2) won by unanimous decision after 10 rounds versus Lorraine Villalobos (5-4) on Saturday June 11. The IBF minimumweight world title fight was held at Anaheim, California.
Christina Cruz (3-0) won by decision after four rounds versus Maryguenn Vellinga (3-3-2) on Saturday June 11. The flyweight bout was held in New York City.
Oshae Jones (1-0) defeated Sonya Dreiling (4-3) by unanimous decision after six rounds on Friday June 10. The welterweight fight was held at Verona, New York.
On Friday June 17, bantamweights Melissa Odessa Parker (5-0) and Mikenna Tansley (5-0) meet 10 rounds for the IBO world title at Houston, Texas. Also, minimumweights Jennifer Morales (1-1) and Alexis Martinez (0-4) meet four rounds.
On Friday June 17, featherweights Carisse Brown (6-1) and Karla Valenzuela (3-26-3) meet six rounds at St. Petersburg, Florida.
On Saturday June 18, super lightweights Aida Satybaldinova (5-2-1) and Jaica Pavilus (3-5-1) meet six rounds at Commerce, California. Also, super flyweights Stephanie Chavez (1-0) and Haley Pasion (2-2) meet four rounds.