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Women’s Boxing Featured At Top Rank’s Event At Palms In Las Vegas Saturday; Top Rank Founder Arum Discusses Women’s Boxing Growth With LVSportsBiz

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By Cassandra Cousineau, Boxing Editor LVSportsBiz.com

After an absence of more than a decade, boxing returns to the newly reopened Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

The 2,500-capacity Pearl Theater will feature a 12-round middleweight championship main event, featuring Janibek “Qazaq Style” Alimkhanuly (12-0, 8 KOs). The 2016 Olympian will defend his title against British middleweight champion Denzel Bentley (17-1-1, 14 KOs) in the championship double header.

Hosted by Las Vegas-based Top Rank in association with England’s Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions, the evening will also feature one of the sport’s rising stars, Seniesa Estrada.

The Ring Magazine No. 1-ranked fighter at 105 pounds makes her return to the ring against Argentina’s Jazmin Gala Villarino after an 11-month absence. It’s an emotional comeback for the East Los Angeles native who recently signed with Top Rank after beginning his professional career under Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy banner.

Her voice quivered as tears filled the corners of her eyes in response to what this moment meant to her. “It’s very special because the last 11 months have been hard for me to stay out of the ring and not fight. I felt like I was missing out on so many things because I’m so competitive and I want to be awesome.

While Estrada trains dutifully and awaits finalization of contract negotiations, women’s boxing has had a solid year, thanks in part to the investment Top Rank has made in the sport. Top Rank founder Bob Arum believes that coming out of the pandemic, it was women in boxing who carried some of the sport’s biggest events.

“Seniesa is one of the cornerstones of the future of boxing. They call her Super Bad, and we think she could be super special,” Arum said. ‘she became a free agent, we signed her to a contract. I think she’s a terrific fighter who’s also very marketable.

The Mexican-American’s marketability goes beyond what she can do in the squared circle, which is impressive in itself. She started boxing at the age of eight and in 2020 scored the fastest knockout in women’s boxing history, knocking out 42-year-old Miranda Adkins in just seven seconds.

“She has a great personality and the fact that she’s completely bilingual is very, very important,” Arum said. “I think she has a great future in boxing, and we intend to keep her very busy.”

In addition to her day job, Estrada lends her expertise to the Top Rank broadcast team – a team that includes the voices of two other notable women in boxing.

In 2021, Crystina Poncher and Mikaela Mayer made history by calling the international broadcast of the Joshua Franco-Andrew Moloney card in Tulsa, Oklahoma on August 14. They become the first all-female broadcast team to call a boxing match.

As her 91st birthday approaches next month, Arum has seen hundreds of female fighters enter and exit the sport unannounced.

“It took time for women’s boxing to be taken seriously,” he said. “Seneisa, Mikaela and of course the fantastic Claressa Shields who headlined the women’s card we promoted in London at the O2 Arena really cemented the fact that women’s boxing is more than just here. We believe women will be an integral part of the sport for years to come.

Part of the future of women’s boxing lies in the sport’s acceptance of three-minute rounds. As it stands, female boxers are allowed to fight for a maximum of 10 two-minute rounds. That’s a full minute less and two laps less than their male counterparts.

The one-minute differential is not just about conventional thinking.

In 2016, Dr. Meeryo Choe, a neurologist at the UCLA Brain Research Institute who specializes in women’s brain health, gave a presentation for the World Boxing Council (WBC), where, according to the WBC, she presented evidence that women are nearly 80% more likely to have a concussion than men. WBC president Mauricio Sulaimán referred to the study as the reason the sanctioning body will never allow three-minute rounds.

Arum and Estrada disagree with this view. Estrada said at this week’s pre-fight press conference, “I want to fight three-minute rounds every fight.”

Arum added: “I’m a big defender of the three-minute rounds. Enough champions are asking for it. Often women train this way. So competing in three-minute rounds won’t be overkill. This sometimes happens with sanctioning bodies other than the WBC.

“When you watch boxing, the most exciting part of the men’s fight is the last minute of the round. At the moment, women are deprived of it. The commissions must be persuaded to make it a universal format. I would even think we could start by making championship fights mandatory for three minutes.

For now, Estrada is looking to make his two-minute boxing rounds memorable for as long as they last. She is a big favorite with odds of -3500 against Gala Villarino. “I’ll be back in the ring after over 300 days, but I’M BACK!” the 30-year-old told LVSportsBiz.com.

The event can be viewed via ESPN+ and tickets starting at $25 can be purchased on Ticketmaster.com.


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