Melissa McMorrow Seeking Redemption in Mexico: Exclusive Q and A
Melissa McMorrow, “Bags and Belts,” Photo Credit: Steven Solidarios
Melissa “Mighty” McMorrow (9-4-3, 1-KO) is look for redemption.
Having fought her heart out in a title fight she is certain she won against the more experienced Mariana “Le Barbie” Juarez (39-7-3, 16-KOs) for the WBC International Female Super Flyweight championship, McMorrow is determined to find vindication.
She will be fighting 26-year-old Mexican fighter, Jessica Chavez (20-3-3, 4-KOs), in the hopes of doing just that, and in the process win the vacant WBC International Female Flyweight title. Even though she will be going back to Mexico to fight Chavez–having won a title before in someone’s backyard, when she defeated the always dangerous Susi Kentikian (33-2-0, 17-KOs) for the WBO Female Flyweight title, she is certain if she puts a little something more into her fighting she will emerge victorious on August 23, 2014.
Melissa was kind enough to take some time out of her schedule to share an exclusive Q and A with Girlboxing readers. Here’s what she had to say.
1. As a boxer, you’ve been showing grit, determination and an explosive fighting style ever since you began your professional career in 2008. In preparing to fight Jessica Chavez—who at 26 is not only several years younger, but has an excellent pedigree of tough opponents—what are you doing to get into physical and mental fighting shape for your upcoming bout?
I am doing what I always do. I am running, sparring, and training hard for the fight. I have always done very strenuous cardio work and this time is no different.
Melissa McMorrow sparring with Jamie Mitchell, Photo Credit: Steven Solidarious
2. Training is everything in boxing! What you focusing on in your training to counter Chavez’s obvious talent and high level of skill in the ring both offensively and defensively?
I focus on my game and the techniques and tactics that work for me. I don’t worry too much about my opponents. Once I get into the fight, I will cater my fight to what Chavez brings, but in training, I work on making sure my best weapons are sharp. Lately, I have been working on giving better angles so I can set up effective hard shots.
A tough Melissa McMorrow applying constant pressure to La Barbie Juarez as they battled for the WBC Female Superflyweight International title, February 22, 2014. McMorrow lost 94-96 on all three cards.
3. Your most recent fight was against the highly touted Mexican fighter Mariana “La Barbie” Juárez for the WBC International Female Super Flyweight title in Mexico. The scores were 94-96 on all three scorecards, but there is some consensus that you got a raw deal. What are your feelings about it and how is that affecting you as you prepare to fight Chavez on her home turf? [A link to the fight can be found below]
The decision for the Juarez fight was very frustrating, but it motivates me to train hard for this next fight. I watched the fight over and over and still feel like I landed the cleaner more effective punches, had better defense and better ring generalship, and more effective aggression through the majority of the fight. I’m still mad about the decision so I am even more determined to leave no doubts in the upcoming fight. This fight with Chavez means a lot to me because I see it as a chance at vindication for the last one.
4. After a career that saw you fighting two to four fights a year culimnating in your defeat of Susi Kentikian to win the WBO Flyweight title and your title defense against Yahaira Martinez by TKO in the 9th round, you ended up losing the belt because you didn’t defend it during the proscribed timeframe. What can you tell us about that situation, your new promotion team, and what you hope to achieve starting with the Chavez fight?
The belt situation was unfortunate. I signed with a promoter in Germany who offered me a very good fight contract. I was very excited to fight abroad especially because Europe has some top boxing talent. I fought 2 fights under the promoter but fights after that never materialized. I was offered many fights but when I presented them to the promoter as options, I was told that they had different plans for me. This lasted a year after which I decided to walk away from the contract because it was not in my interest. This cost me the belt because without fights, the time frame for defending the title was passed. Since then, I have been looking for new beginnings. I was hoping to make a strong statement with the fight with Juarez by winning her title. But now I have a new opportunity to do so by beating Chavez in a weight class that I am more comfortable [in].
5. Across the divisions in the pro ranks of women’s boxing, fighters seem content to keep going well into their 40s. At 33, what do you see ahead of you with respect to your career as an active fighter?
I think that women differ from men in that they continue to be strong and maintain endurance longer in to their lifespan. Regardless, I am not one to make definitive plans about my future. I am open to what my life brings me…. that is how I even got into boxing in the first place. When I started, I told myself that I would box until it no longer made me happy. That hasn’t happened yet, but I think when it does it will be very clear to me that its time to move on. At this point, there are still a lot of fights that I would love to take.
Melissa McMorrow with Beautiful Brawlers Champions Iris Contreras, Graciela Ortega and Eli Salinas, Photo Credit: Blanca Guttierez
6. Aside from your efforts as a pro boxer, you’ve been lending your considerable talent to coaching and mentoring female amateurs fighters in Blanca Gutierrez’s Beautiful Brawlers program. What can you tell us about that and what you feel you can offer the girls?
I think the best thing I can offer the girls is a tangible example. That is why I show up. When I was an amateur, there were very few women in the sport. It was hard to picture what a skilled female boxer was because I had never really seen one. I try and make sure that the girls have a positive example that they can follow so that they learn when they are young that you need to put the work in.
7. Having been in the pros for over six years, what changes have you seen in the sport since you started in 2008? Do you feel the addition of women’s boxing to the Olympics in 2012, is having a positive impact on the sport?
I started fighting as a pro in 2008 but I did compete in the amateurs since 2005. The amateur scene is completely different now because there are a lot more fighters. In addition, the program has been more formalized because of the path to the Olympics. In 2006 and 2007 it was confusing what the requirements were to even go to the National tournament. The program lacked depth, so if you did not take the top spot at the Nationals there was nothing for you. This caused people to quit or turn pro because they could not find fights otherwise. There was a lot of turnover and, consequently, a lack of people really sticking with the games and really learning solid boxing skills. This has all changed because of the Olympics. There is now a very good reason for girls to develop their boxing skills for a shot at the Olympics. There are now a lot of young girls in the sport. It is very exciting!
Melissa McMorrow throwing a hard left to Susi Kentikian, in their WBO Female Flyweight title fight shown on German television. Photo Credit: Eroll Popova
8. One of the biggest frustrations for female boxers in the United States is the lack of media coverage of their fights. Just across the border from you in Mexico, women’s fights are routinely broadcast on Mexican television, sports channels and satellite outlets. What do you think has to happen to get the networks to “wake up” and start putting female fights back on television?
I think we need to find the right people at the networks to talk to. When I tell people that I am a boxer, they are immediately excited about it. This issue is not that there is no market. The product just has not been brought to the market. At this point, people are waiting for big promoters to sign female talent to showcase it. I think this would be very helpful, but creating contacts with TV outside of major promoters is also a viable option.
9. Whenever your name comes up in boxing circles, there’s a collective nod as if to say, “yep, she’s a real boxer.” What do you hope to achieve in the sport – and where do you think it will take you once you do decide to hang up the gloves?
In order to compete in a sport like boxing, you have to love it. It is very difficult to train as I much as I do, and to look after your weight, etc. Sometimes I ask my self why it is so important to me. It sometimes seems really silly. But you can’t help what you love and sports of all kinds have always been that way to me. Sports were always the thing I was best at and loved doing the most. I strive to be good at whatever I do and I hope that when I’m done boxing, a little piece of me will stay with the sport and people will remember who I was. I have no idea where it will take me when I hang up the gloves. Boxing has been a part of my life for the last 10 years so I don’t even remember my life without it, but I think I will always be a part of boxing in some way.
Melissa McMorrow’s battle against Mariana Juárez. You be the judge! (Fight starts about 12 minutes in – in Spanish)