By Jerome Souza (@FirstClassBox)
As Women’s History Month 2017 comes to an end, Women’s Boxing has made history and looks to continue its growth in the months to come. On March 10th, two-time Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields (2-0, 1 KO) of Flint, Michigan became the first woman to headline a premium cable boxing card. Televised live on Showtime, Shields stopped veteran Szilvia Szabados (15-9, 6 KOs) in front of many hometown supporters in the Detroit area, in what was her second professional fight. Two weeks later, Olympic bronze medalist Marlen Esparza (1-0) of Houston, Texas was the first woman to appear on the televised portion of on ESPN boxing card. Esparza was also victorious in earning a unanimous decision victory over an overmatched Rachel Sazoff (0-3) from the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California on March 23rd. “It was truly an honor to have been able to sign the first female boxer to Golden Boy”, Oscar De La Hoya told FirstClassBoxing.com in regards to Esparza.
De La Hoya believes that Esparza is special because she does more than fight in the ring. “The fact that she’s being an ambassador for women’s boxing and we can have the honor and the pleasure to promote her is just really remarkable for everybody, for boxing, for women, for Golden Boy. I am truly blessed”.
De La Hoya doesn’t plan on stopping with Esparza in her being the sole female boxer on Golden Boy’s stable. The promotion’s Chairman/CEO is focused on reeling in the most popular figure in women’s boxing at the moment. “I plan on talking to another Olympian, who’s a two-time gold medalist, Claressa Shields, who we can also promote and would also be a pleasure and an honor”.
Golden Boy promotions has been in existence for roughly 15-years and De La Hoya has a full understanding about how it important it is to have star power in a promotion and the revenue it brings in. At the moment, De La Hoya promotes the biggest PPV star in boxing in Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KOs). Alvarez is once again fighting on an upcoming Cinco De Mayo weekend in Las Vegas. The venue has been sold out for weeks and it is expected to do strong PPV numbers with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr (50-2-1, 32 KOs) as Alvarez’ opponent.
Mixed Martial Arts has proven that women can be a massive ticket seller and PPV draw citing the popularity of former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey, who is now looking at Hollywood to continue her career. It took a few years for Rousey to gain notice as she fought on smaller cards prior to making her television and PPV debut. However, Shields and Esparza are already well known due to their success in the Olympics and visibility through commercials. Esparza was featured in Covergirl and McDonalds advertisements during her 2012 Olympic campaign. Shields, the two-time gold medalist, was and remains the last U.S. Olympic boxer to win the gold since Andre Ward in 2004.
Women’s boxing remains an untapped market. Many of the pioneers of the past including Christy Martin and Mia St. John and current champs in the middle of their careers which include Amanda Serrano and Heather Hardy may not see the mainstream success that potentially lies ahead for Esparza and Shields. But those previously mentioned have definitely paved the way and made the platform of success possible for Esparza and Shields. “Women like Marlen and Claressa they can really open up the doors to women’s boxing so that’s the plan”.by