Posts Tagged ‘Holly Holm

01
Aug
15

Ever the optimist, the longer view of women in boxing

Ever the optimist, the longer view of women in boxing           

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Heather “The Heat” Hardy (13-0) fights Renata Domsodi (12-6) on 8/1 at the Barclay’s Center on PBC’s Daniel Santos v. Paulie Malignaggi card.

My day job has me pretty busy these days, but it hasn’t stopped me from coming to the gym upwards of three days a week—working as hard as a 60+ girlboxer can to learn to slip my trainer’s straight rights and hooks and gain more savvy in the ring.

IMG_4729“Damn” is about all I can say about those unseen punches, but I have been moving a heck of a lot more in the twelve-foot squared circle we spar in, which has given me my latest “eureka” moment when it comes to boxing, and after four tough rounds last Saturday I thought, “so that’s what it means to set up punches.”

It’s the “seeing more” that got me thinking and the idea that stepping back while in the pocket of engagement, gives anyone of us the opportunity to place ourselves in the grander scheme of things.

So too with women’s boxing.

If we step back for a moment, we can see enormous shifts.

The amateur game has never been better in the United States and globally, with young girls entering the sport as young as seven and eight, and contesting it with remarkable prowess right on through the Elite women, such as 2012 Gold Medalist Claressa Shields, who on the heals of her stunning performances at the 2015 Pan American Games, where she won gold, will contest the sport with vigor alongside her brilliant boxing sisters in the 2016 Rio Games.

Claressa Shields Pan Am medal stand 800

On the professional side, the view form the United States may seem bleak, but the excitement of the sport in places such as Argentina where Canada’s Jelena Mrdjenovich (35-9-1) is putting her WBC world female featherweight title on the line against the other Matthysee, Edith Soledad Matthysse (13-7-1) as the main event on top flight card in Buenos Aires, gives hope of opportunities to come.

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There’s also a main event bout in Brandenberg, Germany tonight between SuperFeatherweights Ramona Kuehne (22-1) and Doris Koehler (12-13-2), a WIBA World Minimum Weight title fight in South Korea between titleholder Ji Hyun Park (21-2) and Gretchen Abaniel (15-7), and a main event ten-rounder between Esmeralda Moreno (30-701) and Jessica Nery Plata (15-0) in Michoacán de Ocampo, Mexico.

In the United States Heather “The Heat” Hardy (13-0) will be facing Renata Domsodi (12-6) in an eight rounder on the Danny Garcia v. Paulie Malignaggi card to be fought at Brooklyn’s premiere boxing venue, Barclay’s Center. This will be Hardy’s third appearance on a major card at Barclay’s and while once again, her fight will not be broadcast, she is creating momentum in the sport and along with the able work of her promoter Lou DiBella, is on the precipice of being televised rather sooner than later.

Most recently in late May, world champion Amanda “The Real Deal” Serrano (24-1-1) appeared on CBS Sports in a six-rounder against Fautima Zarika Kangethe (24-11-2), the first female bout to appear on the network since the late 1970s. That is pretty heady stuff, and despite the sense that the sport continues to decline in the US, I’m feeling rather more optimistic.

The fact that Elite amateur boxing star and Olympic gold medal winner Katie Taylor will appear on boxer Andy Lee’s fight card on September 19th is also a step forward—especially since Andy has been such a vocal supporter of the sport and of Taylor’s importance to female athletics not only in their native Ireland, but around the world. He’s also a very visible fighter in the US and his recent statements in support of Taylor and women in the sport against his upcoming oppenent Billy Joe Saunders’ rather sexist remarks have gotten a lot of play here.

In the United States, the phenomenal success and incredible skill of Ronda Rousey (who fights on the UFC 190 PPV main event tonight) have firmly placed women’s MMA in the spotlight. Boxing stars such as Holly Holm are finding success crossing over into the the sport and in doing so are putting female boxers in the spotlight.

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While I have my theories as to why women’s boxing died on the vine vis-à-vis the media in the middle oughts (a piece for another day), women never stopped entering the ring—which has meant the sport has continued to improve by leaps and bounds.

The women of the ring circa 2015, are faster, stronger, better trained and perhaps even more motivated than their sisters who fought 19 years ago when Christy Martin graced the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Christy Martin, Boxing April 15, 1996 x50289 Credit: Brian Smith- freelance

Christy Martin, April 15, 1996, Photo Credit: Brian Smith

Is there a lot wrong with the sport?

Yes.

Inequity, lousy pay (if any), and a PROFOUND lack of respect.

Still, women box, and continue to claim their rightful place in the ring!

07
Feb
14

Friday night at the women’s boxing fights – 2/7/2014

Friday night at the women’s boxing fights – 2/7/2014

Friday Night Fights

Here we are again fight fans! And if Chicago-based new boxing sensation and 6-time Golden Gloves champ Kristen Gearhart (2-0) who is fighting Alliana Jones (1-0) on the ESPN Friday Night Fights card doesn’t get on the air — female boxers will still find themselves shut out of the major US TV networks this weekend.

As alternative …. we have tonight’s fight card with two sensational fights from this past week!

First up is Canadian fighter Lindsay Garbett (8-7-s, 3-KOs) vs. Chinese fighter Xu Chun Yan (4-3, 1-KO) who fought for the vacant WBC International Female Featherweight championship in Haikou, China on February 5, 2014. Garbett lost the battle by majority decision and according to CanadianBoxiana.com told her fans, “Unfortunately I lost a majority decision. I left it all out there and I knew what I had to do. Couldn’t get it done this time. I Had a great time and can’t wait to come home! Thanks again everyone for all the support. I’m so grateful!”

Both are very skilled boxers–and the audience was very attentive. You be the judge! (BTW, Commentary is in Mandarin)

For the main event, here is the complete Cecilia Braekhus (24-0, 7 KOs) vs. Myriam Lamare (22-4, 10-KOs) fight for the WBA, WBC and WBO female welterweight championship held on 2/1/2014. Braekhus took the fight by unanimous decision on points.

Lamare had her pro debut in 2003 and has fought Jane Couch, Belinda Laracuente, Anne Sophie Mathis, Holly Holm, Ann Saccurato and Chevelle Hallback along the way among others. Her only losses other than to Braekhus, had been against Holm and Mathis (twice). Lamare also fought as an amateur

Braekhus, listed as number 1 on everyone’s p-4-p list seems unstoppable with mad, crazy skills and an iron will to win, but let me tell you, Lamare’s no slouch either. The fight, likely Lamare’s last, is all Braekhus, but still a pleasure to watch–with a very lively crowd! (Commentary in Norwegian)

 

28
Jan
14

Boxer Diana Prazak – Bittersweet …

Boxer Diana Prazak – Bittersweet …

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Australia’s boxing phenomenon Diana Prazak (12-2, 8-KOs) won her WBC Female Super-Featherweight title in dramatic fashion in June 2013 when her knock out of Swedish boxer Frida Wallberg (11-1, 2-KOs) left Wallberg to suffer from a burst blood vessel at the outer edge between the meninges and the brain. What was lost in the frightening minutes and hours until word was received that Wallberg would likely recover, was the fighting brilliance of Prazak who under the tutelage of the great Lucia Rijker had come a long way in the six months since she fought a respectable bout against Holly Holm (33-2-3, 9-Kos) in December 2012, and further still from her first professional fight less than two years before that.

Prazak will be defending her title on March 1, 2014 against boxer Shannon O’Connell (8-2-0, 5 KOs) at The Melbourne Pavillion in Flemington, Victoria, and has otherwise been very busy keeping up with her training.

She’s also the subject of a documentary by Dutch filmmaker Marieke Niestadt, tracing Prasak’s experiences in the run up to her epic battle in the ring with Wallberg and its aftermath. The film is an official selection of the upcoming Macon Film Festival 2014 and the Charleston International Film Festival 2014.  If the trailer is indicative of anything, it is a sensitive portrayal of Diana Prazak’s boxing journey.

For more information on the film, click the link: www.mariekeniestadt.com/bittersweet

15
Jun
13

Women’s Boxing champ Frida Wallberg KO sends her to the hospital for emergency brain surgery.

UPDATE 3 (6/16/2013):  The Swedish press is reporting some very good news. It seems Frida Wallberg is off the respirator, awake and talking. It’s also been reported that the bleed was not an internal brain hemorrhage, but a blood vessel at the outer edge between the meninges and the brain. This is excellent in terms of her recovery and likely she will be kept in the hospital for another 5-6 days so that she can continue to be assessed and have the rest she needs. Meanwhile, the matter is being investigated by Swedish boxing authorities.

Women’s Boxing champ Frida Wallberg KO sends her to the hospital for emergency brain surgery. UPDATE 1  & 2 (below)

Boxer Frida Wallberg being assisted by Lucia Rijker and opponent Diana Prazak shortly after Wallberg's devastating KO loss to Prazak on 6/14/2013. Credit: Maja Suslin/Scanpix

Boxer Frida Wallberg being assisted by Lucia Rijker and opponent Diana Prazak shortly after Wallberg’s devastating KO loss to Prazak on 6/14/2013. Credit: Maja Suslin/Scanpix

Swedish Boxer Frida Wallberg (11-1, 2-KOs) suffered a devastating KO in her title fight against the new WBC super featherweight champion, Australian fighter Diana Prazak (12-2, 8-KOs). It has left the wildly popular Wallberg in an intensive care bed at the Karolinksa Hospital in Sweden on a respirator. She was placed in a medically induced coma after receiving emergency surgery to relieve the pressure on her brain from a cerebral hemorrhage. Surgery took place in the early morning hours after the bout.

Prazak spent the night pummeling Wallberg with bombs and rocked her in the 7th round with a sweeping left according to a report on boxingscene.com. Wallberg buckled under the force of the blow, but continued the round.  In the 8th round, seemingly still under the effects of the 7th round blow, Wallberg was on the receiving end of Prazak’s hard punching. Wallberg was knocked to the canvas by short left hook, but after getting up and receiving an 8-count from the referee, Bela Florian, she continued only to be hit by a short right hook which sent her to the deck again.  Bela Florian called the fight at that point and Prazak was given the KO win.

Wallberg was assisted to the corner by Florian, her nose bleeding and tentative in her movements. Even as she was being examined by the ring doctor, one could observe her visibly slumping and hanging on to the ropes. Still he walked away, and it was the quick thinking of Prasak’s trainer, Lucia Rijker who while celebrating her own fighter’s victory saw that Wallberg was in trouble and ran to her aid. Rijker demanded that the doctor return and that Wallberg be given serious medical aid. Wallberg was subsequently attended to and brought out of the ring on a stretcher.

Wallberg’s boyfriend, Robert Ludwig later told the Swedish press that she suffered a cerebral hemorrhage described as a stroke. In other reports, it has been said that doctors may try to revive Wallberg at some point today to assess her condition.

UPDATE 1: According to press accounts from Sweden, Frida was partially brought out of her coma and has had her medications reduced to assist in the process of bringing her to consciousness. That will reportedly happen at about 4:00 PM, 6.15.2013, Swedish Time. No word was given on the state of her injuries or likely prognosis. The press is continuing to state that she suffered a stroke.

UPDATE 2: Wallberg was reportedly awakened, was able to move her fingers and answers questions, but from what could be gleaned, she has likely been re-sedated somewhat to allow her time to heal. There is some cause for optimism, but no answer yet on whether she will make a full recovery from the stroke–and things are still very serious at this point. She remains in the hospital in intensive care.

Whatever happens, under Swedish boxing rules, Wallberg will no longer be able to box professionally in Sweden.  It is also said that she had an MRI two weeks ago as part of her pre-fight medical which showed no signs of abnormality or vessel weakness.

Wallberg’s last fight was 14 months ago against the tough Brooklyn fighter, Amanda Serrano (17-1, 12-KOs). Wallberg won the fight by decision in her native Sweden. Prazak on the other hand most recently fought Holly Holm (33-2, KOs-9) for a shot at the then vacant IBAF and WBF female light welterweight titles. It was Prazak’s only loss.

Responding to questions about Wallberg in a post-fight interview, Prazak with her coach Rijker was overwhelmed by the quick succession of winning the title after a long hard road of training — and the sense that her only way to defeat Wallberg to take the title was by KO, given that the fight was on Wallberg’s home turf in Sweden — and the devastation of knowing that Prazak was so seriously injured.  As Prazak said on her Facebook page last night, “All fighters want the win by KO … just what we had planned and trained for [came] at a big cost.” She went on to say, “My prayers and thoughts are with Frida and her loved ones. Please send your prayers and thoughts for her too.”

Ishika Lay in Recovery, Photo: Florida Times Union

Ishika Lay in Recovery, Photo: Florida Times Union

The injury sustained by Wallberg and subsequent surgery is reminiscent of the devastation suffered by Ishika Lay in November 2011. During Lay’s bid for the National Golden Gloves in the run-up to the Olympic Trials, she collapsed in the ring, the likely victim of second impact syndrome–a form of brain injury that occurs when brain injuries are not given adequate time to heal.

Whenever this happens in boxing — questions arise as to the role that coaches, managers, referees and ringside physicians play in the health and safety of fighters in the ring. The safety of fighters outside the ring, during training, is just as important, if not more so, and it is up to those who care for their fighters to take the precautions necessary to keep their boxers safe–incorporating the adage “when in doubt sit it out.”

It is helpful that in Sweden fighters are required to have brain scans on a regular basis. The fact that Wallberg was cleared two weeks prior to the fight is also good. What we don’t know is whether she sustained any serious head blows in the interval between her MRI and the day of the fight that could have compromised her in some way. By all reports both fighters had tough training camps in preparation for the bout–Wallberg had also been coming to the fight after a 14 month layoff and whether that had anything to do with the severity of her injury is also unknown.

What we do know is that boxers, hockey players, football players, MMA fighters and other athletes in close contact sports sustain traumatic brain injuries–the question is how can we all help protect these remarkable athletes from further trauma. We know that fighters in particular aim for the KO. It is the “cookies” in boxing–and let’s face it, is what garners the big money fights on the men’s side of game, and while women make a pittance by comparison, the KO remains the holy grail.

Making sports illegal is certainly not the answer, but making sports safer with headgear that can minimize the impact of such injuries, as well as vigilance in the gym, on the playing field and in the ring, would seem to be a step in the right direction. Rethinking the importance of big hits is also something to consider–though that is an unlikely change.

07
Dec
12

Holly Holm v. Diana Prazak Fight 12/7/2012!

UPDATE:  

Holly Holm defeats Diana Prazak by UD, 100-90 on all three judges score cards on 12/7/12, Credit: Jose Leon Castillo

Holly Holm defeats Diana Prazak by UD, 100-90 on all three judges score cards on 12/7/12, Credit: Jose Leon Castillo

Holly Holm v. Diana Prazak Fight 12/7/2012!

Diana Prazak and Holly Holm at weigh-in, 12/6/12, Credit:  Will Fox

Tonight’s Fire and Ice boxing card at the Route 66 Casino & Hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico promises to be full of excitement if only to see the size of the ring where Holly Holm (31-2-3, 9 KOs) will fight for the IBA & WBF Women’s Light Welterweight titles against Diana Prazak (11-1, 7 KOs).  In Holm’s last outing against Anne Sophie Mathis which she won by decision, the Holm team fought and won another decision as well, erecting a 24 foot ring. This led to considerable controversy as it favored Holm’s fighting style — and many believe tilted the “w” in her column.

Holm was also originally scheduled to fight Myriam Lamare.  Diana Prazak, an Australian boxer who is the WIBA Super Featherweight champion, took the call and canceled out of her 6-round scheduled bout against Victoria Cisneros who she was also set to fight at 140 lbs.

As Prazak put it recently: “I’m a determined fighter. I have fought at 130-135-pounds; however, I walk around at 145. I will feel much stronger at 140 because I don’t have to starve myself.”

Diana Prazak will also have former world champion, Lucia Rijker in her corner, pound-for-pound, one of the best boxers ever, never mind “female boxer.”  This has given Prazak a lot of confidence.   “I’m lucky to have the opportunity to work with some great champions, not to mention the rounds I get in with my trainer, Lucia Rijker. If I can get punched by the most dangerous women in the world, I most definitely do not have any concerns about being hit by girls in other weight classes. I’ve been training with Rijker Striker for almost eight months and I’ve learned a lot being in America and about what it takes to be a pro fighter.”

At the official weigh-in yesterday, Holm came in at 138.8 and Prazak and even 138.

Also fighting on the card in a six-rounder will be Victoria Cisneros (8-13-2, 3-KOs) versus Mary McGee (19-1, 10 KOs). Cisneros has fought some of the big names in boxing including two fights against Holly Holm (both at short notice) and rumbles with Chevelle Hallback, Melissa Hernandez and Cecilia Braekhus. She may have lost those fights, but she is none the less a very credible fighter with a record that belies her strengths in the ring.  McGee a native of Gary, Indiana has fought and won almost exclusively in and around her home town. Fighting Cisneros, who is coming off a three-fight winning streak should prove to be interesting.

Win lose or draw, the fights should be great tonight … just wish they were televised!!!

27
Nov
12

The same old song …

The same old song …

One would think that HollyThe Preacher’s Daughter” Holm (31-2-3, 9-KOs), the current IBA & WBF lightweight welterweight champion, who is set to fight a world title defense on December 7, 2012 against Diana Prazak (11-1, 7-KOs) on a much ballyhooed card called “Fire and Ice” would command the attention of the boxing world enough to land the fight on HBO Boxing, Showtime, ESPN, Fox Sports, NBC Sport, PPV — heck ANY sports network that broadcasts boxing.

But no …

This much-anticipated bout, following on the heals of Holm’s two tough, hard-fought contests against France’s own Anne Sophie Mathis which should have promoters beating down the door at Fresquez Productions will not be aired.

And this AFTER the Olympics when women kicked serious butt and the US women’s team brought home not one, but two medals courtesy of Marlen Esparza (Bronze) and Claressa Shields (Gold).

So what gives?  What’s a “girl” got to do to get some friggin’ air time in the United States?

If fighters of the caliber and quite frankly fame of Holly Holm can’t get a fight broadcast, up-and-coming fighters don’t have a “prayer” to gain any visibility beyond a loyal crowd of followers and the potential for a local cable station to broadcast the fight card and/or video streaming of the event with the hope that it gets loaded on to YouTube.

No one’s talking either.

Meanwhile when it comes to MMA, women routinely fight on nationally broadcast fightcards such as Strikeforce — and even UFC is planning on adding women to their PPV fight cards in 2013. UFC in particular is readying to promote Ronda Rousey, who won acclaim and a lot of fans when she captured her women’s bantamweight championship belt on Strikeforce.  Rousey’s championship fight in August of 2012 also drew big numbers to Strikeforce, no doubt playing an important part in the calculus of UFC’s decision to bring her over as a UFC fighter on a PPV fight card. (See Dave Meltzer’s excellent piece here.)

But not so with boxing.

Is it that the sport itself is too stale and out of ideas on how to creatively promote itself in a way that can include the talent, heart and boxing savvy that women bring to the ring?

Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of answers — mainly just frustration and disappointment that yet again, a fabulous outing will be lost to viewers aching to watch it unless they can manage to glean a video stream.

09
Jun
12

Holly Holm v. Anne-Sophie Mathis 2 — The Reckoning

Holly Holm v. Anne-Sophie Mathis II — The Reckoning

Anne-Sophie Mathis KOs Holly Holm with a “stunning right” on December 10, 2012. Credit: Chris Cozzone

Much has been written about the oft described “stunning right” delivered by Anne-Sophie Mathis (26-1, 22 KOs) that KO’d Holly Holm (30-2-3, 9 KOs) at 1:39 in the seventh round of their  International Boxing Association (IBA) and WBAN Welterweight title fight.

Boxing writers dubbed Mathis’ victory the upset of the year, though many pointed to Mathis’ fifth round hit and subsequent 6th round shot that sent Holm down to the canvas as having clearly rocked Holm before she ever made it to the seventh round. Holm was knock into the ropes, but got up before the final straight right that put her back through the ropes and finally prompted the referee, Rocky Burke to stop the fight.

Anne-Sophie Mathis who is a KO artist of the first order and proved that over and over again in her victory over Holm.  What many have questioned is whether Holm was prepared for the onslaught in the run up to their December battle–but more importantly, have questioned why both the Ref and Holm’s corner let her continue after the 6th round when she was so clearly rocked and still wobbly in the early part of the 7th.

The two are set to meet again on June 15th in what is being billed as Holly Holm v. Anne-Sophie Mathis II — The Reckoning.  The fight will be no doubt be a momentous battle and we will see for ourselves what the ensuing months have brought both fighters in terms of preparation and mental toughness as they go at it again.

Mathis has been quoted as saying, “I haven’t changed anything since our first fight. I’ve continued working to improve my technique and mental approach. I study my opponent so I am as prepared as possible. I don’t disrespect anybody but trust in myself and my work.”

Holm, seeking redemption in the ring has said, “I could have fought the rest of my career, never losing again, but I wanted to fight her. It was a rough fight for me and I’ve battled my demons over that night. If I didn’t believe in myself, I’ve already lost. Nobody is going in there fighting for me.”

In what looks to be an attempt to forestall any controversy, the New Mexico Athletic Commission announced three well-respected and seasoned judges who will officiate at the bout. All three will come in from Las Vegas: Duane Ford, Dave Moretti and Lisa Giampi. Among them they have judged such world title bouts as Larry Holmes-Muhammed Ali and more recently Manny-Pacquaio-Juan Manuel Marquez II.

Tom King of the New Mexico Athletic Commission stated, “They are among the most qualified officials in boxing,” when the announcement was made.

The referee chosen for the bout is Jon Schorle who in his 20 years in the ring has refereed a total of 27 title fights.

For further information on one of the most highly anticipated rematches in recent memory, click on www.FresquezProductions.com or www.rt66casino.com for ticket information.




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