With most of boxing still on an enforced hiatus due to Covid-19, it seems an apt time to take stock of how the major players currently stack up in the increasingly intriguing and talent-rich female fight firmament.
Here, then, is Boxing Social’s current female pound-for-pound top five…
5) Yesica Yolanda Bopp; 36-1 (16 KOs); Argentina.
Often overlooked, Bopp’s CV is actually mightily impressive. The Argentine has held the WBA light-fly crown since 2009, having annexed the interim title in 2008, and is 26-0 in full world title fights (her sole career reverse came on points in a non-title contest against Jessica Chavez in 2013). Bopp has also, at various times, held the WBO light-fly and flyweight crowns. The 5’0” stylist with the winning smile is quick, strong and precise. The only question is how much longer she will be in the pros – she has signalled her intention to have a further paid engagement this year before mounting an assault on qualification for the Tokyo Olympics, if the games are rescheduled for 2021. In P4P terms, Bopp’s failure to properly unify titles – save for a brief spell as WBO and WBA light-fly champ – restricts her to the lower reaches of this chart.
4) Amanda Serrano; 40-1-1 (28 KOs); Puerto Rico.
A formidable operator with a crowd-pleasingly aggressive and all-action style, southpaw Serrano has won a remarkable nine world titles in seven weight classes – all the way from super-fly to super-lightweight. ‘The Real Deal’ brings fire and craft to the prize ring – possessing, as she does, impressive head movement and combination punching, as well as genuine fight-ending power. Thus far, Serrano’s marquee performance was her 10-round battering of previously undefeated Heather Hardy at Madison Square Garden in September last year. However, by hopping so regularly between weight classes, as well as flirting with MMA and wrestling, Serrano has failed to truly dominate any single weight class, hence her failure to break our P4P top three. She has the chance to advance further in the P4P stakes, however, in her next fight when she challenges for Katie Taylor’s undisputed lightweight crown. This fascinating showdown was originally scheduled for May 2, but is currently awaiting a new date.
3) Katie Taylor; 15-0 (6 KOs); Ireland.
The darling of the Emerald Isle, Taylor’s professional accomplishments in a career that is still less than four years old are stellar. A world champion in her seventh pro fight, she is now the unified 135lbs champion and has also won a super-lightweight title for good measure. With her amateur pedigree, all-round skills and ability to box or brawl, Taylor is pretty much the complete package. However, her controversial victory against Delfine Persoon in June 2019 – a fight many, including this writer, thought she lost – exposed some flaws in the Irishwoman. At times, she looked ragged and lacking in stamina as she was out-thought and out-fought by the Belgian for stretches. To truly settle the doubts engendered by this fight, Taylor would arguably be best served granting Persoon a rematch. Indeed, to crack our top two, Persoon is an itch Taylor will need to scratch at some stage. In the meantime, however, her showdown with fellow P4P top fiver Serrano will more than do. Having already beaten older Serrano sister Cindy, bookmakers have Taylor odds-on to also triumph against Amanda, who is rated around 2-1.
2) Claressa Shields; 10-0 (2 KOs); United States.
The most divisive figure on this list, Shields rubs a lot of people up the wrong way with her outspoken nature. Others find her lack of filter and willingness to lay bare her feelings and emotions refreshing within a sporting landscape often populated by anodyne, over media-trained robots. Unfortunately, the social media battles and controversies that Shields apparently courts have sometimes served to obscure just what a supreme talent she is. With two Olympic gold medals, the undisputed middleweight championship of the world and further multiple titles at super-welter and super-middleweight already under her belt just 10 fights into her pro career, Shields has history and the record books at her mercy. Her hunger, skills, dedication, defensive prowess and superior technique should see her reign supreme for as long as she chooses. It certainly seems inevitable at some point – sooner or later – that Shields will assume the No.1 position on this chart. If she can add the sort of concussive spite to her punches that her verbal barbs sometimes display then she may well be assigned the ‘GWOAT’ sobriquet on merit – rather than by herself – by the time her already dazzling career is done.
1) Cecilia Braekhus; 36-0 (9 KOs); Norway.
The ‘First Lady’ of boxing has reigned supreme at welterweight since September 2014, when she bested Ivana Habazin for the unified title. Elegant and skilful, Braekhus is an expert at letting loose with quick-fire combinations and has never really come close to losing. Lest anyone have any doubts, she is also a supremely tough competitor; as proven in December 2014 when she fought – and beat – Jennifer Retzke despite sustaining a triple fracture in her foot in round three that left her limping through the remainder of the bout. The Colombian-born maestro is in the discussion when it comes to determining the greatest female fighter of all time, while her longevity, combined with her dominance and all-round skill set, means she remains the P4P queen as far as Boxing Social is concerned. Sure, at 38 it is logical to ask how long Braekhus can maintain her pre-eminence – particularly with tough showdowns against Jessica McCaskill and the winner of Katie Taylor vs Amanda Serrano looming – but whatever happens from now on in her career, a substantial reputation in the record books is assured. Next on her legacy checklist is the opportunity to surpass Joe Louis’ record of 25 consecutive world title defences – she is currently tied with the ‘Brown Bomber’ on this astonishing landmark.