By Mauricio Sulaiman – Son of Jose Sulaiman – President of the WBC
Women’s boxing is a reality. Great fights are taking place these days to redefine the future for so many women boxers in the world.
This past Friday in Flint, Michigan, a historic all-women’s pay-per-view card took place in which WBC champion Claressa Shields fought without a guarantee in hopes of creating a unique and courageous legacy. And she did. Claressa Shields defeated Canadian Marie Eve Dicaire by unanimous decision to become the Super-Welterweight division’s unified world champion. Claressa is now the first fighter ever to be undisputed in two different weight categories.
This coming Saturday in Dallas, Texas, there will be a great rematch between former Welterweight World Champion Cecilia Braekhus and Jessica McCaskill, the young boxer who took away Cecelia’s undefeated record and championship belts. Cecilia had dominated the division for more than 10 years with 25 title defenses until Jessica McCaskill shook the world with daring and determination in one of the first events during the pandemic. Cecilia will try to get her titles back and shine on the DAZN platform. This fight will share the main event with Gallo Estrada vs. Chocolatito Gonzalez, another great rematch and one we have waited for eight years.
The World Boxing Council has dedicated significant resources and efforts to honor and support women’s boxing and continues to do everything possible to encourage its global growth. The three world conventions organized exclusively for women in boxing held in Cancun, Tijuana, and Manila, Philippines, have resulted in positive advances in all aspects of the sport.
Also, the WBC customized a series of specific rules for women’s boxing, such as a pound of tolerance in the official weigh-in consideration of the effects of the menstrual cycle; specific gloves designed for women, and created a series of guidelines and protocols, the most important of which is the two-minute, 10-round championship fight.
For our women athletes, the duration of the rounds is two minutes, not three, as it is in men’s boxing, and the maximum number of rounds is 10, not 12 as it is in men’s boxing.
The physiology of men and women has important differences, especially in the neck and upper cervical. There are sports medical studies where it is confirmed that women have an 80 percent higher risk of suffering concussions, and recovery from it is slower.
The WBC has changed many rules to make boxing a safer and more humane sport for contenders. One of the studies held at UCLA concluded with a simple formula to understand Fatigue + Dehydration + Punch equals possible concussion and brain damage.
Out of respect to these findings, men’s boxing went down from 15 to 12 rounds. That measure has saved many lives.
A small group of boxers is demanding that the rule be changed, and women are allowed to fight three-minute rounds and 12-round fights. They ask for the change because they believe it will improve the purses promoters offer and, at the same time, help them achieve more victories by knockout.
Every boxer in the world, male or female, is capable of doing whatever it takes to excel. If asked, they would fight 15, 20, or 50 rounds. They would even agree to fight to the death as Roman Gladiators did. They are all warriors with unmatched bravery. As administrators of the sport, it is the obligation of us to review and impose regulations that protect them … even from themselves, especially from those that would exploit them.
Unless there is medical data that conclusively contradicts these medical findings, the WBC will not participate in any change of the 2-minute and 10-round maximum.
DID YOU KNOW? … Claressa Shields is a great champion. At the age of 17, she won the gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics. She repeated that in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, again winning the gold. In her second fight as a professional, she won the NABF middleweight title. In her third bout, she won the WBC silver super-middleweight title. In her fourth fight, she won the WBC super-middleweight world title. She was champion until 2017. Then in her sixth fight, she won the WBC title and unified the middleweight division. In 2020 she conquered the WBC super welterweight title from the WBC, and last Friday, she was consecrated in that division. She is the undisputed champion in this division. On March 17, she will turn 26 years old.
TODAY’S ANECDOTE: With great pride, Don José promoted the trajectory of his champions, although at first, he resisted because he said … how is it possible for two women to hit each other up there in the ring? He reflected, as he always did when he had to, and understood that an opportunity was necessary for women in pro boxing. This was because women’s boxing was advancing by leaps and bounds. Indeed, the champions have gained ground-based on effort and professionalism. Now they headline cards, and in each round, they give their heart and soul. That is why he was always so very proud of his boxers and proactively supported better conditions for them in the ring.