It is undeniable that boxing is booming again. After years of mismatches and stalled marquee pairings, the sport has finally shown fans the respect of delivering the fights they want to see. However, amid this re-branding of your grandfathers sport toward a new millennial audience, have the power brokers forgotten the women athletes?
Tonight, the self-proclaimed First Lady of Boxing Cecilia Braekhus (30-0, 6 KOs) defends her welterweight world title against Erica Farias (24-1, 10 KOs).
The fight is a homecoming for Braekhus, hosted in her native Bergen, Norway, a country which just sanctioned boxing not that long ago. Braekhus was instrumental in having the sport regulated and although she has fought in her home country twice before, this is her first time in the city she calls home.
I bet you knew none of that backstory or even about the fight. She’s only fought once in the U.S. but is looking to change that.
MosleyBoxing Channel bring you Cecilia Carmen Linda Brkhus The First Lady of Boxing! Cecilia Brkhus is a Norwegian professional boxer and former kickboxer. In boxing, she has reigned as the undisputed female welterweight champion since 2014 and is the first woman in any weight class to hold the WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO titles simultaneously.
Braekhus is the number one pound-for-pound women’s fighter in the world, and few, if any outside of true boxing fans, know her.
Historically underserved and to some extent disenfranchised and side-showed, women boxers have rarely, if ever, been elevated to marquee main event stature. Many will argue that it’s a popularity issue and the men draw the crowds. But the same can be said for heavyweights versus the lower weight classes for men and that false narrative was shattered with success stories like Manny Pacquiao, Prince Naseem Hamed and the current welterweight focus in the mens ranks.
Not since Laila Ali rose to fame with a vicious style matched by a statuesque model appearance, have women experienced any real major promotion. With a legendary father and a perfect record, Ali had all the accoutrements to brand her sell-ability. Still, she was only able to headline a few fights and was relegated to the co-main event in many instances.
Premier Boxing Champions and Showtime Sports must be given credit for their efforts towards womens boxing. They have placed Heather Hardy and Claressa Shields as headliners in their respective hometowns of Brooklyn and Michigan. They have also given the intriguing Serrano Sisters a platform to be just as great as the Charlo brothers.
More can be done to raise the profile of women boxers and a quick glimpse of how women transformed MMA shows why it is imperative.
There was once a time when UFC President Dana White said he could not foresee a future where women competed in the UFC. After buying rival promotion Strikeforce, which had a healthy stable of women fighters due to the foresight of veteran promoter Scott a Coker, a young hungry judoka named Ronda Rousey was born. After defeating everyone by her trademark armbar, White saw the potential to make her a star and opened up a womens division. Along with other standouts like Miesha Tate, the womens divisions are headline-worthy events that do very well, even on pay-per-view.
During a time when all the former UFC stars like George St. Pierre, Chuck Liddell, and Anderson Silva were either retrieving, losing their star appeal or taking sabbaticals, the womens ranks single-handedly kept the UFC afloat.
Can you imagine where the UFC would have been if Ronda Rousey didn’t make it cool for to soccer moms to envision their daughters becoming Olympians and future champions? The same must be done for boxing. And with Olympic gold medalists like Claressa Shields leading the way, the storylines to promote are definitely there.
Heather Hardy faced off against Shelly Vincent in a 10-round WBC International Women’s Featherweight Championship bout on August 21, 2016, at the Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk. This fight was broadcast on NBCSN as part of the Premier Boxing Champions series. This was also PBC’s first televised women’s boxing match.
If not, more women will be forced to become dual-sport athletes like TSl Power Hour co-host Ana The Hurricane Julaton, Holly Holm and now Heather Hardy. Not merely for the new challenge, women fighters need the exposure and increased pay that the MMA world seems to offer on the surface.
Boxing owes its resurgence to great matchups, broadcast exposure, and talent that has been incubated correctly. Let’s not forget the women who have also been groomed to take the world by storm next to their male counterparts during this renaissance of pugilism.
Tonight Cecilia Braekhus and Erica Farias will perform in front of a sold-out crowd of 15,000 because Norway gets it.
Why don’t we?