Mismatch or worthy rematch?
Holm & Cisneros do it again for local bragging rights
Story and photos by Chris Cozzone
Some are calling it a gross mismatch.
Others consider it a worthy rematch.
Both, local fans and Telefutura viewers, will get the chance to decide for themselves Friday night when women’s boxing pound-for-pound great Holly Holm steps into the ring for the second time against crosstown rival Victoria Cisneros at Route 66 Casino, west of Albuquerque.
On paper, it echoes last week’s travesty in New Mexico, when a local welterweight, Hector Munoz, beat up on a former super bantamweight – Jorge Reyes – for a round-and-a-half. Reyes, unwon since 2000, had lost 18 of his last 20 bouts and been suspended at least 15 times between the U.S. and Mexico in the last dozen or so years.
That fight had been approved by a local tribal commission at Isleta – this one bears the stamp of approval of not only its promoter, Fresquez Productions, but Telefutura and the New Mexico Athletic Commission.
The numbers do not look good: Holm, 29-1-3, 9 KOs, has held seven top world titles between 140 and 154 and has not lost a fight since a fluke cut had her retiring in a tune-up bout in 2004. Since then, she’s taken on all contenders.
And so has Victoria Cisneros, who is 5-11-2, with one KO. Cisneros has not only lost three straight bouts, but is 2-7, with one NC, in her last ten – and one of those bouts was against Holm.
In December 2009, when Melissa Hernandez bolted from the fight site on a moment’s notice, Cisneros, who was in attendance that night, stepped out of the crowd, was instantly approved by the local commission (again, Isleta), laced up and went ten rounds with Holm, losing all but one round (on two judges’ cards, anyway – the third had it a shutout.)
Cisneros’ show of guts – as equally shocking as Hernandez’s lack – made her an instant hometown favorite. Since then, she’s been clamoring for a rematch.
“I could care less what anyone is saying about this fight,” Cisneros says. “I deserved the rematch.”
Cisneros scored her biggest win after losing to Holm – a decision over ranked contender Terri Blair. After beating an unknown debuter, she lost three more fights – but to three of the biggest names in boxing: Cecilia Braekhus, Melissa Hernandez and Chevelle Hallback.
“Records don’t mean anything,” says Robert Padilla, Cisneros’ trainer. “It’s all about who you fight – Victoria has fought the best and is rated in three different weight divisions. Some of those fights were really close.”
In all her losses, Cisneros has never been stopped; and several have been split decision or majority losses.
“Victoria’s record was a hard sell, but we had no choice,” promoter Lenny Fresquez told the media at yesterday’s press conference.
Originally, Cindy Serrano had been chosen to fight Holm. But after pulling out with an injury, Cisneros, once again, stepped in. Fresquez had to convince Telefutura first – and it was only the lack of Hispanic fighters in women’s boxing at Holm’s weight that had them reluctantly approving Cisneros.
“Last time, Victoria had an hour’s notice,” says Fresquez. “This time, she’s had six weeks.”
The weeks of preparation, says Cisneros, will make the difference this time around.
“This is my dream,” she says. “And my dream will come true. I am fighting for my kids and for Albuquerque.”
If nothing else, local fight fans are behind Cisneros. In fact, on a recent poll conducted on NewMexicoBoxing.com, Cisneros has 45% of the hardcore fight fans behind her, while Holm is at 33%.
“This is for the history of New Mexico,” trainer Padilla maintains. “There’s no belt at stake so maybe we can fight for the red and green [chile] belt of New Mexico.”
“Be careful what you ask for,” has warned Mike Winkeljohn, Holm’s trainer.
“Holly has trained for Victoria as hard as she’s trained for any one. We know she’s better than her record shows – and that she’s had no baby fights.”
Holm, on the other hand, is anxious to get this rematch behind her.
“I’m really glad for the rematch because Victoria deserved it,” says Holm. “But it’s really been a sore for me, since I fought her.”
Criticized for fighting someone who “stepped out of the crowd” in Cisneros, having to recycle past opponents in a series of rematches, and unable to ink a deal with the new European champs, like Cecilia Braekhus and Ann Sophie Mathis, now threatening her pound-for-pound status, Holm is anxious to get Friday behind her.
“Everyone remembers she stepped out of the crowd that night,” says Holm. “But they forget – or don’t know – that she had trained for a fight that fell through, that night. I’ll be forever thankful that she stepped in, but my goal is to put on my best performance Friday night.”
By that, Holm means she aims to become the first fighter to stop Cisneros.
“I know it’s a tough fight, and that they always come back stronger,” says Holm. “But I really want to show the best Holly Holm on Friday.”
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