Women’s boxing has not enjoyed the same kind of popularity as women’s tennis, especially in United States. Top women tennis players earn millions of dollars on tour tournaments on top of millions they make in endorsements, while their boxing counter parts ply their craft in virtual obscurity. Kaliesha West, a twenty two year old boxing sensation from Southern California might just be the one to change all that.
Not blond or tall like Maria, Kaliesha is beautiful and has a look of a model and just like Sharapova who won her first Wimbledon at the age of seventeen, West really knows how to box.
Trained by her father Juan West, Kaliesha has practically been born in the boxing gym. Winner in junior Olympics as well as few other prestigious amateur tournaments, with the record of 98-10, West turned professional in 2006 right after she celebrated her eighteenth birthday. They had to sneak her into San Manuel Casino for her first professional fight, because they did not allow any body under the age of twenty one at the casino.
Ever since turning pro on February 23rd, 2006 and out pointing Suzannah Warner, who later became a world titlist, Kaliesha West amassed a record of 12-1-2 with 3 knock outs. It is not easy for a female fighter to get opponents in mostly male dominated sport. They have to move up and down in weight or travel half way around the world to get a fight.
Is all of that about to change? Kaliesha’s next fight is a big one, a ten round 118 pound WBO tile bout against Angel Gladney on September 18th at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on the under card of Shane Mosley Sergio Mora main event. If you are interested in buying tickets call the Ticketmaster and use a promo code “Wild West”
“I am happy to be fighting at home!” exclaimed West, after fighting her last two contests in Denmark and Peru respectively. She went to Denmark in March of this year to face local Anita Christensen for the vacant female WBPF bantamweight title and ended up with majority draw. She then went to Lima, Peru and knocked out Vannessa Guimaraes in the fifth stanza.
In Peru fighting on the undercard of the local female champion, Kina Malpartida, Kaliesha learned that women’s boxing could be huge.“Kina is like Brittany Spears in Peru,” says Mando Huerta who trains Malpartida in Southern California at Maywood Boxing Club: “She can’t go anywhere without paparazzi following her.”
Could Kaliesha be the one to bring popularity in women’s boxing to United States? On September 18th, she has the arena, the skills and the looks to do it. This is the first time that Golden Boy Promotions a major boxing promoter, features a female title fight at a major venue.
I went to check on Kaliesha as she is preparing for the biggest fight of her professional career. She had a sparring session scheduled at Duarte Boxing Club with a veteran female fighter Rhonda Luna.
Kaliesha is a new breed of female fighters who has been in the gym from the very young age; she is as comfortable inside the squared circle as she is at home posting stuff on her computer on face book (that is how she keeps in touch with her friends and fans.) Kaliesha is a born fighter, as she went eight spirited rounds with Rhonda, her father kept exclaiming box, box. And that is because with all the tools that she possesses young lady likes to fight; she went on the inside of bigger Luna and was ripping hooks to the body much like Sugar Shane Mosley was doing to Antonio Margarito last year. She has a complete offensive arsenal that starts out with a stiff jab and follows with crisp fluid combinations, but it is her body work that reflects coming up in Southern California gyms. Besides complete offensive package, Kaliesha is skilled on the defensive end; she moves well without expanding a lot of energy and even though she is not afraid of getting hit and exhibited a good chin, West rolls her shoulders Mayweather like to avoid absorbing full contact when she is getting hit.
With her speed and movement Kaliesha was getting the better of Luna, who had to take a break after four rounds. West then took on an amateur Faith Franco, a recent Golden Gloves champion who trains at Duarte Boxing Club, for several brisk rounds.“ I don’t like boxing,” said smiling West: “I love it.” It shows in the gym as the young star shadow boxes even while she is wrapping her hands.
After the sparring session I asked Kaliesha, who still looked like she could go another ten rounds, what was her style of boxing. “It’s a mix between Shane and Mayweather,” said twenty two years old who looks like a teenager. “Funny!” I told her: “I just thought the same thing.”
“It’s time to change the face of women’s boxing,” says Claudia Ollis, the latest addition to team West: “Especially with women boxing in the next Olympics.”