On Saturday night London promoters Mark Lyons and Billy James-Elliott presented the first British event to feature three female professional boxing bouts, however to achieve this historic first for Women’s Boxing, the pioneering duo, whose event was sanctioned by the Malta Boxing Commission, had to overcame an unbelievable level of interference, from another boxing organization and their fellow EBU members.
Rather than dwell on the politics, everyone involved in the staging of this historic event should be congratulated, none more so than the female boxers that took part.
Former Team GB athlete (Shot Putt, Hammer Throw and Discus), Peckham’s Shaunagh Brown made her professional debut against fellow debutant Ireland’s Xena Ball.
Brown had a major disadvantage, she’s the sole Female boxer worldwide that competes in the Cruiserweight division, by having to fight in the Heavyweight division against an opponent some fifty pounds heavier than herself.
That aside the bout was a cracker, the plucky Londoner didn’t appear to be fazed at all about the weight discrepancy, in fact early on it was her taking the fight to Ireland’s Ball.
Ball, a classy young boxer with excellent ringcraft was as savvy as they come, content to let the Londoner come forward, before stepping forward with very, very quick double handed flurries to force Brown back towards the ropes throughout the bout.
Brown was struggling with the size difference between her and her opponent, unable to push Ball off relied on her excellent boxing skills to box her way out of danger.
After four rounds of virtual non-stop action, referee Lee Murtagh scored the bout in favour of Ireland’s Xena Ball 40-36, the correct verdict without doubt, but really doesn’t reflect the quality of Brown’s excellent against the odds performance.
Unbeaten Lightweight Sam Smith from Leeds, Yorkshire was next in action, who after no less than seven changes of opponents in the lead up to fight night, faced a debuting Alina Lisova from Riga in Latvia.
Smith, who in her previous bout beat championship experienced Zsofia Bedo to secure the International Masters Lightweight title, literally outclassed Lisova, tearing the debuting Latvian girl apart and stopping her in just one minute and ten seconds of the first round.
The final female bout of the night see Woolwich, London’s British #1 ranked (Both Super Bantamweight and Pound-For-Pound) and reigning MBC International Super Bantamweight Champion Marianne Marston, in a non-championship six rounder.
As with Sam Smith, Marianne had many changes of opponent, nine in her case pulled out, in the build up and eventually faced Riga, Latvia’s Jekaterina Lecko, who in June fought Germany’s Alice Melina Kummer for the German Lightweight title.
Lecko paraded down the catwalk like she was a model, whilst Marston, an actual former model, made her entrance very much in fight mode, smashing her gloves together as acknowledgment to the cheers of support from the huge female contingent in attendance.
The difference between the two was even more noticeable when Marianne removed her sponsor laden T-Shirt to show her seriously ripped physique.
Marston went straight on the offensive, forcing Lecko to rely on throwing out her jab in a vein effort to prevent the Londoner getting within range, Marston not only got in range but once there she began giving the Latvian a boxing lesson she’s unlikely to forget in a while.
Changing tactics Lecko resorted to running away as such, however Marston’s ringcraft is of such a level that she was able to close down and cut off any escape route, before backing the Latvian on to the ropes with a vicious double handed attack, the result was devastating for Lecko who was sent to the canvas with just five seconds remaining of the first round.
Marston started the second in similar vein to the first, taking the fight to Lecko, who now began throwing huge right hands in an attempt to keep Marston at bay.
With this tactic failing, due to Marston’s superior movement, Lecko reverted to going walk about, which suited the Londoner, who once again was able to cut off the ring and corral the Latvian against the ropes and begin another double handed assault, all Lecko could do was cover up and hope that Marston would punch herself out, she didn’t and after what seemed an age, it wasn’t but it seemed that way, referee Ken Curtis stepped in and waved off the bout to save Lecko from a guaranteed knockout, on the one minute and fifty second mark of the second round.
Following the event Promoter Mark Lyons spoke briefly about the three Women’s bouts.
“Firstly I would like to thank all the boxers that took part in tonight’s show and I mean all of them, OK I accept that some of the opponents were not close to the level of our boxers, but that was not any of the fighters fault.
I can’t thank Xena, Jekaterina and Alina enough for saving the female bouts, these girls all stepped in at the last minute after a ridiculous number of pulls outs due to threats from another organisation.
That aside these girls came and saved the show and we did manage to make history, we are the first to have three female bouts on a UK pro boxing event.
Personally I think Shaunagh’s fight against Xena was the stand out bout, not just because it went the distance but because it was a fantastic fight, even though it had to be fought at Heavyweight as there are no other Cruiserweights in the world.
I felt sorry for Sam, Alina was way too inexperienced for someone of her skills, the same with Jekaterina, she just wasn’t close to the class of fighter Marianne should be fighting.
The real difference is our girls really are professionals in every way, they prepare for competition in exactly the same way as the male boxers.
Look at Marianne, I doubt there are many male boxers that have such a honed body, that girl has an eight pack, she trains every single day and spars some seriously talented male boxers to prepare and it shows.
I am proud to have these girls fight on our events and can’t wait for the next, their support was fantastic, never have I seen so many female spectators at a boxing match before.
Roll on October 23rd I promise there will be more female bouts on that show too.”