Kaliesha and Layla
Photo Courtesy of Team West
Kaliesha West and Layla McCarter American Female Fighters
By David A. Avila
Many consider Kaliesha West one of the best female prizefighters on the planet, but that’s not always a good thing in the female fight world.
For a variety of reasons whenever West seeks a fight others seem to run in another direction.
West, a world titlist in the bantamweight and super bantamweight division, was scheduled to fight on Saturday July 1, in Aguascalientes, Mexico. The promoter called her on Saturday June 25, to advise her of the failed bout.
“The promoter said a family emergency came up,” said West of her latest fight cancellation.
It’s typical in the female boxing world where elite fighters like West and others are widely avoided by opponents who decide to not show up for various reasons. It happened once again for the umpteenth time.
Ever since the Moreno Valley resident first began boxing professionally in 2006, she’s experienced competitors unwilling to face her in the ring. The reasons are many including lack of confidence, fear, or not wanting to risk an undefeated record. There are other problems too.
American promoters are simply unwilling to stage female fights especially on televised fight cards. They prefer to spend the money given to them by networks on male fighters only. It’s a dilemma females have experienced for the last 20 years.
Meanwhile, female boxing has exploded in other countries like Mexico, Argentina, Japan and Germany. Almost every week in Mexico female bouts are the main events and televised throughout their respective countries.
“Fighting in Mexico has been one of the most beautiful experiences in my entire career. The amount of respect the capital of boxing Mexico has for women is unbelievable. They greet and treat female fighters with no stereotype,” said West, 28, who fought in Mexico three different occasions and each fight was televised. “If a woman is a champion, they will be treated like one, no different from the men. We are embraced, and female boxing is very popular in Mexico.”
American female fighter’s plight
West is not alone when it comes to difficulties in obtaining fights in the U.S. Other top flight females suffer a similar existence.
Multi-champion Layla McCarter, whose family lives in Riverside, has been in search of a showdown with Norway’s Cecilia Braekhus. Both female fighters are considered the top two female boxers in the world and fight in the same 147-pound weight class.
McCarter has no hesitation in seeking to prove her superiority against Braekhus and settle the question of who is the best female fighter pound for pound. Negotiations have been ongoing but money seems to be the roadblock.
“We have spoken to Cecilia Braekhus promoter but haven’t been able to get a deal done,” said McCarter who lives and trains in Las Vegas. “Hopefully we’ll get it done.”
This week, McCarter was given a huge assist by current male WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder who demanded that the female prizefighter be put on his next fight card on July 16, when he faces Riverside’s Chris Arreola. That fight card takes place in Wilder’s home state Alabama.
McCarter last fought in April when she knocked out Yolanda Segura in less than a minute in Mexico City.
“Layla doesn’t care who she fights or where,” said her trainer and manager Luis Tapia. “She fought in five countries against undefeated girls and beat them all.”
McCarter and West both have been forced to fight overseas. It’s a dilemma they share with other top American female fighters. Meanwhile, American men seldom fight overseas. Floyd Mayweather never fought outside of American shores.
Despite the lack of support by American promoters and opponents willing to fight her, West still maintains optimism.
“The journey was long and will have been 20 years by the time it's over. I just want to make sure I leave with a bang,” said West who plans to retire in two years. “Money is not a big concern for me. I fight for the love of boxing.”