Saturday night sees featherweight world number 1 Anabel Ortiz 26(4)-3(1)-0 defend her WBA world title for a second time against Venezuela’s Debora Rengifo 10(5)-4(2)-1. Their first encounter back in 2016 ended with a convincing unanimous decision in favour of Mexico’s Ortiz. Ortiz has successfully held this belt since 2013.
Prior to winning this belt she had been defeated by unanimous decision going for the WBA and WBO world light flyweight titles against Argentina’s hard hitting Yesica Yolanda Bopp. Coincidentally Bopp had recently TKO’d Rengifo in November 17 putting her down in the 1st, 4th and 6th rounds before her corner invaded the ring in the 7th, you can read more about this here Bopp v Rengifo.
Ortiz has almost double the number of bouts than Rengifo and has taken big names the distance with 24 of her 29 fights going to the judges score cards, showing she has the stamina and chin to mix with the best. Rengifo on the other hand has only gone the distance in over half of her 15 bouts.
Getting into the stats both fighters are the same age 31, and also share the same height at 153 cm, but Rengifo boasts the longer reach at 161 cm compared to Ortiz’s 159 cm. I don’t think that’s really enough to give any real advantage, but I will say that fighting in front of the home crowd, Ortiz will have a massive advantageI can really only see this going in Ortiz’s favour by unanimous decision. The only real chance Rengifo has of winning is by knock out.
Heading across the Atlantic, North and Baltic seas to the former USSR country Estonia where Russian up and coming star Elena Gradinar 8(2)-0-0 has based her fortress. Coming into this fight undefeated and with the home town support Gradinar should be wearing the vacant IBF Inter-continental female featherweight title, come the end of the fight. With her opponent Canadian Olivia Gerula 18(3)-17(3)-2 losing almost as often as she wins and fighting on foreign soil it looks an easy win on paper. But in boxing it only takes one well-placed punch to win a fight and with Gerula competing in almost five times as many fights as Gradinar she has a tremendous amount of experience and has fought Gradinar’s type before.
Up until this point Gradinar has been pretty shielded, with her career being guided, she has mainly fought cannon fodder. Gerula is the only fighter she has faced that has won more than she has lost (barely). This is a huge step up in quality for Gradinar, but it is a calculated risk by her management team, gradually increasing the level of opponent, they have been working hard trying to build the fighter up and gaining a reputation before pushing on for titles. But with so few quality fighters and so many belts, a title fight was going to come sooner rather than later.
So as I said it looked an easy fight for Gradinar on paper, the reality is it might not be so easy for her, ok Gerula has lost more fights than Gradinar has fought in, and she has the home support, but Gradinar is a former world champion with 6 world title fights to her name, you cannot ignore that kind of experience, Gerula will come with a game plan and will give Gradinar a hard time. Having said all of that I do believe Gradinar will win.