Although Mariana Juarez had more consecutive world title defenses than Ava Knight had fights, Knight was unfazed and emerged victorious. Knight came into the fight as the reigning IBF female flyweight champion and added the WBC diamond title to her collection.
Ava Knight-Mariana Juarez was a thrilling fight between the two best female flyweights in the world, and with the win Knight solidified her status as one of the very best in the world pound for pound. Personally I'd rate Knight #3 p4p behind Cecilia Braekhus and Holly Holm, the Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao of women's boxing. Braekhus and Holm, just like Mayweather and Pacquiao, can't seem to get in the ring with each other to prove who the best really is. Strictly speaking in terms of p4p, Knight is more like the Andre Ward of women's boxing, who ironically is also from northern California. While the top 2 p4p spots stall in both men's and women's boxing, Ward and Knight nip at their heels. Knight, like Ward, is a talented young fighter fresh off the biggest win of her career. We don't yet know what their ceilings will be, but both are expected to get even better.
Ava Knight, by all intents and purposes now THE female flyweight champion of the world, is a lot better than her 10-1-3 record would suggest. Quite frankly I don't even know why her win over Mariana Juarez is considered an upset. Juarez honestly did better than I thought she would. In Knight's 14 career pro fights she not only learned on the job, but she learned against the best. How many other female fighters can say they've faced the likes of Kaliesha West (twice), Ana Maria Torres, Arely Mucino, Susana Vazquez, and Mariana Juarez (all of which were/used to be/would later become world champion) in only 14 fights? If you know your women's boxing well enough you may have counted some hall of fame worthy fighters along with a few journeywomen that were thrown in to lose. Knight has only lost Torres, who was vastly more experienced at the time. Torres I might add was arguably #3 p4p herself prior to her pregnancy this year.
Ultimately, the point is Ava Knight does not consistently find herself among elite company as merely the "opponent". Ava's the real deal and it's time boxing acknowledged that fact. This is a dual gender sport. Last month women's boxing had the super fight known as Cecilia Braekhus-Anne Sophie Mathis. This month it got Juarez-Knight. Even the WBC knows it's a big deal! Why else do you think the diamond title was on the line? Granted the WBC gives out the diamond title to collect a check, the history of who has won it can't be ignored. The diamond title has previously only been awarded to Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather, Bernard Hopkins, Sergio Martinez, Nonito Donaire, and, surprise surprise, Ana Maria Torres. Whether you look at her record or the list of WBC diamond titlists, Ava Knight is among elite company. The only thing I want to know now is: who's next?
Although I'm not aware of any fight discussions, the logical and perhaps only major fight left at flyweight for Knight is against fellow Californian Melissa McMorrow. McMorrow, now sporting the WBO/WIBF flyweight titles, is fresh off a thrilling upset defeat of previously unbeaten German/Armenian Susi Kentikian (WBA title wasn't on the line). Like Knight, McMorrow went on the road to win. Wouldn't it be nice for them to now fight for undisputed division supremacy at home? No, it does not matter that Simona Galassi and Renata Szebeledi are scheduled to rematch for the vacant regular WBC title two weekends from now. The Knight-McMorrow winner fighting one of them is about as relevant as Bernard Hopkins needing Oscar De La Hoya to call himself undisputed. Anyways, here's to hoping logic in boxing is not dead and another great female fight is made.
Ryan Bivins can be contacted thru email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter via @sweetboxing