Not about the belt(s)
Holm seeks to continue her reign as pound-for-pound champ in women’s boxing, belts or no belts
Story & photo by Chris Cozzone
Lance Armstrong may say it’s not about the bike, but, for seven-time (ten, if you can stomach more alphabet soup) world champion Holy Holm, it’s not about the belt.
“I just want to win and fight the best out there,” says Holm (27-1-3, 7 KOs), who will step into the ring this Friday against top contender Jaime Clampitt (21-4-1, 7 KOs) in a ten-rounder held at Hard Rock of Albuquerque.
“What belt is this for?” Holm shrugs before giving an honest answer. “I don’t know.”
Actually, Friday night’s fight is for the International Boxing Association’s (IBA) 140-pound title, which is, ironically, the very first belt Holm fought for, back in 2004.
The IBA, of course, is not to be confused with the WIBA (the Women’s International Boxing Association). Nor should the IBA be mixed up with the WBA (World Boxing Association), which, in turn, shouldn’t be mistaken for the WBC (World Boxing Council) or the IFBA (International Female Boxing Association.) To date, Holm has, at one time or another, held two WBA belts, one WBC, two IFBA, two WIBA and three IBA.
“I never want the organizations to think they’re not important,” says Holm. “Without them, there are no belts.”
But, says Holm, there is a “but.”
“It does hurt the sport – men and women’s boxing. Back in the day, there was one champion – now so many belts take away from the top champion. There are so many and the significance of being No. 1 – the champion – is gone.”
Holm does, however, consider herself that champion, for all practical purposes – at 140 to 147 pounds.
“I think I’ve proven myself to be that,” she says. “I feel I’ve earned the respect of being called that.
“On the other hand, being a champion isn’t a destination or an accomplishment – it’s an ongoing process.”
This Friday, Holm’s “ongoing process” will entail scoring a win over challenger Jaime Clampitt.
“Every one I face gets me nervous, for one reason or another,” says Holm. “And that’s a good thing – it keeps me training hard.
“With Clampitt, I don’t think she’s going to hit as hard as someone like Chevelle Hallback, but she is very level-headed. She presents a very tough fight because she’s an intelligent fighter.”
Though Holm has neatly cleared away most name fighters between 140 and 154, she says there are several challenges ahead beyond the one she faces Friday night.
“I think Ann Sophie Mathis is someone I still need to face at some point,” says Holm. “She’s undefeated – even I’ve been beaten. The possibility of rematches also present dangerous fights – like with Myriam Lamare.”
One match you should probably not count on, is Holm vs. Melissa Hernandez. Last December, the two were paired up and, literally, minutes before they were scheduled to enter the ring, Hernandez bolted out of the arena, forcing promoter Lenny Fresquez to grab local fighter Victoria Cisneros out of the crowd. As one would expect, the last-minute fight was highly criticized for a number of reasons, from the sanctioning bodies on site and tribal commission approving the last-minute match, without ample weigh-ins and a pregnancy test, to Hernandez’s sudden departure and her suspect claims that Holm’s handwraps were faulty.
The last thing in the world anyone would ever expect, is to see Hernandez return to New Mexico – but next week, one week from Holm’s fight, Hernandez will co-feature a bout at the Santa Ana Star Casino against Cisneros, on a card promoted by yet another former Holm foe, Stephanie Jaramillo.
“She made a mockery of the sport of women’s boxing,” says Holm, still irked at Hernandez. “And now she still has an opportunity from all that drama? It’s completely ridiculous. I’m convinced the whole scheme was planned out. It’s just sad that she’s been able to use all the drama and attention from me to get another fight here.”
Needless to say, Holm will not be giving Hernandez another opportunity.
“I’m just glad to be on the other end of this,” says Holm. “I would rather create attention on my own merit, as a boxer, rather than drama.
“Some people have asked me, ‘Don’t you just want to fight her – just want to beat her?’ I answer, ‘No.’ I wanted the fight – but last year. She doesn’t deserve the chance.”
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