I had the honor of introducing the 16 inductees to the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022. Held at the Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on October 22nd, the 9th class of inductees celebrated women’s boxing’s past and present in high style.
The brainchild of founder Sue TL Fox, herself an American pioneer from the 1970s when the denizens of women’s boxing went to court to win the right to box professionally, her insistence that women give themselves the accolades they deserve reverberates through the community.
Yes, we love that since 2020, women have been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York. And that in Hall of Fames across the United States and beyond, women are taking their place for the brilliance of their achievements.
There is something; however, to that wonderful notion put forth by Virginia Wolfe, of having a room of one’s own. And whether actual or metaphorical, the sisterhood of brilliant athletes swapping stories is irreplaceable. This year’s class included Tori Nelson and Suzi Kentikian, boxers you may well have heard of, but it also contained Cora Webber who not only boxed in the 1970s, but in the 1990s to great effect. And men too, including Irish promoter Jimmy Finn, who along with 2014 Inductee Barbara Buttrick promoted the actual first all-female card in the UK in 1994; and Tom Gerbasi, who has led the way as a boxing journalist giving space to the stories of women in the ring since the late 1990s.
This year’s event was also held amid women’s boxing’s dazzling October.
The all-female Shields-Marshall card at London’s O2 Arena on October 15th was held in front of a sold-out crowd of 20,000 cheering fans, not to mention the 2,000,000 eyes that caught the broadcast of the card on Sky and ESPN+. The card delivered not only in terms of the number of fans tuning in, but the brilliance of the performances from one end of the card to the other. The Shields-Marshall fight itself, produced a fight of the year contender to rival the Taylor-Serrano bout on April 30th whose main-event battle was held in front of a similarly sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden.
What was notable, is that while Taylor-Serrano had 1.5 million views on DAZN, a full .5 million more viewed Shields-Marshall—to my mind, showing the strength of the Taylor-Serrano card to the women’s boxing “brand.” Afterall, it is highly unlikely that Bob Arum and Top Rank would have pushed to have their fighter Mikaela Mayer contest for the unified Super Featherweight title against Alycia Baumgardner, without the precedent of a sold-out Madison Square Garden.
Nor does it stop there.
Consider Katie Taylor’s seemingly effortless retention of her undisputed lightweight crown and undefeated record against the mandatory Argentinian contender Karen Carabajal. Taylor led the card at the Wembley Arena—the very place where she had her pro debut. At that event, a mere six years ago, she walked out to nearly empty stands. At her homecoming of sorts, the cheering crowds floated her to the ring on a wave of love and admiration.
The two female fights on the undercard were also great action bouts showing off the prowess of Ellie Scotney as she pressured Mary Romero to a loss. And then there was the impressive professional debut of Maisey Rose Courtney, frankly one of the best I’ve seen, female or male. But think about that for a minute. She had her debut at Wembley Arena on a Katie Taylor card positioned as the swing bout leading into the main event.
Thinking about it more, Maisey’s entire boxing career has been informed by Katie Taylor.
Taylor’s amateur prowess and trailblazing amateur career provided Maisey with a goal to strive for. While her pro debut was on the undercard of a major fight by an undisputed champion in one of boxing’s more venerable arenas in the United Kingdom. This is Maisey’s world with the likes of Adam Smith stating Sky Sports commitment to putting on good cards as demonstrating “a move towards total parity and total equality in pay.”
The latter in particular remains to be seen. The boxing efforts on Saturday, October 29th across the globe; however, gave truth to the idea that parity and equity are long overdue. Consider Arley Muciño who wrested the IBF World Fly title from the Argentinian champion, Leonela Yudica, in a non-stop action fight at San Diego, CA’s Pechanga Arena and shown on DAZN. It should be noted it was Yudica’s 10th defense of the belt since she first captured it in 2014—a momentous upset by Muciño who had at one time held the WBO World Fly title. Announcing for the Golden Boy Promotions card was none other than current unified champion WBA and WBC World Fly champion Marlen Esparza, who immediately called out Muciño for a unification battle.
Let us also not forget that Yamileth Mercado successfully defended her WBC World Super Bantamweight title against the venerable Mariana “La Barbie” Juarez in her fourth defense of her title, her loss to Amanda Serrano in 2021, notwithstanding.
Those showings, the Taylor card bouts, and the women boxing at venues large and small establishes the sport has the potential for an even more magnificent future.
Let us all hope that actually comes to pass.