The Boom of Women’s boxing
By Gav Duthie: Not since Laila Ali defeated Christy Martin a dozen years ago has there been as much interest in women’s boxing. Both America and the UK have Olympic heroes turned professional and so far there seems to be significant interest in watching them progress. Why has there been such an upturn recently and how far can the sport grow?
Not very lucrative
Top world boxing champions of recent vintage like Holly Holm had to move to UFC to get any recognition and financial gain for their talents. Ronda Rousey who has never boxed found herself on the cover of Ring Magazine. UFC proved that there can be interest in women in the fight game but up until now no women boxer has become a proper superstar. Laila Ali may have been an exception but this was as much to do with who she was as Muhammad Ali’s daughter as it was her talent. Probably the best female boxer of all time Lucia Rijker had to do film work like ‘Million Dollar Baby’ and even fought a man to gain exposure.
The real origin of the upturn started in London at the 2012 Olympics when women’s boxing was granted a place in the medals for the first time ever. It was there that most of the general public and fight fans were introduced to Britain’s Nicola Adams, Irelands Katie Taylor and America’s Clarisse Shields. If there is one thing about the Olympics is that it makes people watch sports that they normally would avoid. It helped fans realize the quality they possessed. All 3 girls won Olympic Gold medals. Fast forward 4 years where Shields and Adams won Gold again. At this point all that is left is to turn professional and the response so far has been quite good. For probably the first time their seems potential that the likes of Claressa Shields, Nicola Adams and Katie Taylor could actually headline cards and make some serious money.
In the UK and US so far
So far Katie Taylor has been the busiest with 4 fights under the Matchroom and Sky Sports banner. She even provided headline undercard to Anthony Joshua v Carlos Molina and there seems to be interest in her progression. Nicola Adams fights her debut on 8 April on BT Sports promoted by Frank Warren. Claressa Shields has had two fights is yet to sign with a promoter but there is significant interest.
How big can it be?
Nicola Adams – Flyweight – #1 – Jessica Chavez 28-4-3 (4)
Katie Taylor – Lightweight – #1 – Delfine Persoon 38-1 (16)
Claressa Shields – Middleweight – #1 – Christina Hammer 20-0 (9)
At the moment of course the promoters are doing there best to build up these fighters. It is one thing however to put these fights on undercards and on TV but headlining is another matter. Hearn and Warren will need to put their talents up against some of the above names to have any chance of selling them. Would they sell out an arena? Where? As big as the O2? How would the Vegas Casino’s react. Unfortunately at this point I don’t have the answers but it won’t be long before we find out.