Photo Source: Reuters
By Graham Gillespie
In this part of the world at least, the professional faction of women’s boxing has often been neglected. Nearly everybody you meet on the street would know who Katie Taylor is but few would be aware of Christina McMahon who until recently was Ireland’s only female professional boxer, and had previously won a world title belt.
This can hardly be seen as surprising as most sport fans in this country would have little knowledge of women’s pro boxing and would be more familiar with the amateur side of the sport. Of course this is mainly due to its introduction into the Olympics at London 2012 and the heroics of Katie Taylor at those games which affirmed her status as both a national treasure and a trailblazer in women’s boxing. The last two Olympics’ also created two more stars who have both enjoyed a spotlight not experienced by their predecessors in the past. Britain’s Nicola Adams propelled herself into her nation’s consciousness by winning the first ever female boxing Olympic gold before defending her title last year in Rio. Similarly America’s golden girl Claressa Shields retained her medal whilst under the tutelage of Billy Walsh.
Taylor, Adams and Shields are the three biggest names currently in women’s boxing and now the professional side of the sport has been given a massive injection of star power with all three of them entering the pro game.
The effect this has had is already noticeable with Taylor getting the chance to fight on the under-card of the David Haye-Tony Bellew bout in March, having already showcased her skills winning her first two clashes. The Irish Times are even reporting that the multiple amateur World champion will get the chance to step into the ring at Wembley as part of the massive Antony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko event on April 29th. Adams meanwhile will make her pro debut in April.
However it is Shields who has made the greatest impact so far with her second pro match-up on March 10th against Szilvia Szabados at Detroit’s MGM Grand set to become the first Women’s Boxing match to have main event status on premium TV in America. The bout which will be shown on Showtime is an example of how accelerated the process of getting major fights for these three fighters has been. In the case of Taylor (30) and Adams (34) this is a necessity due to their age profile (although it must be said that boxers do not often peak until their mid-30s), but for the 21 year old Shields this a testament to the level of attention she has already garnered.
Guidance will also be crucial for these fighters as the issues that plague men’s professional boxing are part of the women’s game also. One only has to read about what has happened to the aforementioned McMahon to understand why these athletes need support to cope with the seedy business side of Boxing. It is in this area that Boxing’s biggest rival MMA and especially the UFC excel as the same degree of factionism does not exist. This has helped someone like Ronda Rousey to become a household name which never would have been possible with any of the pro boxing organisations for a women up to now. Taylor and Adams seem to be in good hands being supported by the experienced promoters Barry Hearn and Frank Warren respectively.
With the arrival of these new superstars and with many young female boxers inspired by these individuals expected to come through, women’s boxing may be on the verge of a golden age.