Women’s Boxing: A Year Of Progress
Eddie Hearn has his critics, but there is no doubt he has been the driving force behind the momentum women’s boxing is currently riding in the UK.
The signing of Katie Taylor was the beginning, but acceptance was slow. The apathy and great indifference drowned out the obvious ability of Taylor.
On the night Anthony Joshua fell apart, the masses began to see the obvious. The war in New York with Delfine Persoon, saw blood, guts, and skill with the obligatory scoring controversy thrown in for good measure. People watched, they talked, the word spread and the wait was about to be over.
Terri Harper promised plenty, the heir apparent to Taylor, a unified champion in February, Hearn started making his moves.
More and more talent entered the fray, and in his back garden this past summer, Hearn gave six women an opportunity and a platform to shine, they didn’t waste their moment.
Harper and a forgotten Olympian served up a classic. In different ways, both left the punching bubble disappointed with the draw. Natasha Jonas proved she wasn’t finished, Harper showed flaws and immense heart to salvage a fight she looked on the verge of losing. A new rivalry was born, unfinished business, that needs a closing chapter. Jonas might be forgotten again, but this time for different reasons.
Shannon Courtenay might have lost her unbeaten record a week later. But even in defeat, she to showed enough to show there is a future. Rachel Ball danced with joy, an unlikely world title chance earned. Another great fight, more scoring issues, but yet again the ladies stole the show. A pattern was starting to emerge.
Then on the final outdoor extravaganza, Taylor and Persoon, did it again. It may have fallen a little short of their classic first encounter, but not by much. Persoon initially accepted the decision before changing her mind. Taylor left making plans for the future, Persoon probably knows Taylor isn’t now part of hers.
Chantelle Cameron came of age, her long wait finally over. Her opponent missed weight, a fight too many. Cameron deserved better, but she won without getting out of first gear, and showed why she has largely been avoided. Bigger and better nights lie ahead.
This Saturday night was supposed to be a double-header, but yet again a certain virus ruined a party. Savannah Marshall and Hannah Rankin were denied their time to settle a score. The feud is real, it’s simmering and it will keep, but hopefully, not for too long.
Hearn says Ellie Scotney could be a world champion within 8 fights. The journey to planned greatness starts on Saturday, a long-awaited professional debut finally happens. Scotney could be anything, a lot of hype, another potential star, she could have chosen an easier path, she deserves credit.
Bec Connolly awaits her, a tough life, little luck, but she seems genuinely happy to be here. Connolly probably accepts a win is remote, but if she does pull off the shock, few would begrudge her moment. Nothing to lose, everything to gain, in a sport where the unexpected is expected.
Two unbeaten prospects will soon clash with the Commonwealth super-bantamweight title on the line. At the end of the month Amy Timlin and Carly Skelly finally have their delayed fight, and this time on a platform it deserves. For the winner it could be life-changing, a massive opportunity, the fight will justify its inclusion on a Matchroom PPV.
A loud brash Australian got Hearn’s attention. Social media perfection, get yourself noticed, some may hate, but Ebanie Bridges won’t care. Hearn won’t need to promote this, Bridges will do his job for him. A returning Courtenay needs a win, but is earmarked for a potential fight for the winner of Bridges vs Rachel Ball. A deserved world title fight or not, the WBA bantamweight division now has new life, everything needs to start somewhere.
Bridges and Ball are part of a world title triple-header with Taylor and Harper hoping to deal with their mandatory obligations before much bigger fights in 2021. In the search for undisputed and maybe Cris Cyborg, avoidance should not be accepted. Jonas has earned another big night, she must not be lost in the mix.
Ewa Brodnicka, another recent Hearn acquisition, was hoping to be defending her WBO super-featherweight belt in a big unification fight with Harper. But an American, Mikaela Mayer, her mandatory challenger is first.
Mayer has the potential to upset a lot of plans, but equally brings intrigue and class to the mix. Mayer has made no secret of her desire to share a ring with Harper. If they both win over the coming weeks, it will be interesting, and maybe telling, what moves each camp makes.
Women’s boxing has thrived since lockdown, building on what came before. The upsurge was slow, but the sport is now growing, and at speed.
After the Tokyo Olympics is finally out of the way, more will turn over. More depth, more quality, the future looks assured. Elite amateur Sandy Ryan, for now, is chasing her Gold medal dream, but has one eye on multiple world titles in the professional ranks. Ryan is one, there are plenty of others.
Despite the uncertainty around at the moment, it has been a year of progress for women’s boxing. It is a great shame it has taken this long, but we now have real hope that the current boom will not be a temporary one.