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Muñoz crushes Leija
By Ewan Whyte
May 1, 2006


(MAY 1) According to reports in the Mexican press, Zulina "La Loba" Muñoz unceremoniously crushed Magdalena Leija in Neza on Friday when the two disputed the NABF bantamweight title. The fight was stopped 54 seconds into the second round.

For the vacant NABF bantamweight title:

Zulina "La Loba" Muñoz
San Vicente Chicoloapan (Mexico)


Magdalena Leija
Coahuila (Mexico)

Date:                  28th April, 2006
Venue:               Arena Neza, Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl
                          (Estado de México)
Promoter:          Dennis Escobar (Empresa Desmor)
Referee:            Lupe García

In his March profile of her, 'The hands that also heal', in Imagen informativa, Sam Luna described Zulina Muñoz as 'the ideal woman' ('exemplary' was the word he actually used): a nurse by day; a boxer by night; and passionate about both vocations. She had always wanted to be a nurse, she said; – from her earliest childhood – so when it came to choosing a course of further education, she hadn't thought twice. As for the other: it was her father that kept pressing her to take up a sport, though he never imagined she would pick boxing. 

A number of other profiles of Muñoz appeared in the Mexican press in the weeks leading up to the fight. She was described there as 'attractive' (guapa) and 'pretty' (bonita), but mostly what fascinated journalists was the supposed paradox of being a nurse and a boxer at the same time (or, rather, by turns).  

About Leija, nothing was written, except obliquely. "It looks like an attractive fight," commented Notimex, the Mexican news agency. "The championship is vacant and both of the protagonists have done enough in recent outings to justify their right to dispute it."

Considering that both fighters had near-perfect records – according to the Mexican sports journal Esto: 7-0-0 for Muñoz and 4-0-0 for Leija (the only blemish in each case being a single points win in a sequence of straight KOs) – that paper's assertion that Muñoz started as 'clear favourite' must have stung Leija (all it came down to, surely, was a few minutes' additional experience), and when the 'ideal woman' answered the bell for the first round, Magdalena Leija went for her throat.

Muñoz managed to dodge or block most of her best punches, using her jab, as best she could, to keep her at bay, but Leija was apparently hell-bent on a first round knockout. As though the words 'opponents' or 'rivals' were now somehow inadequate –it must have looked like blind hatred – Esto described them here as 'enemies': Leija, the one throwing most of the leather, and Muñoz, the one trying not to get hurt.

As the round wore on, though, the storm began to blow itself out; Zulina caught her once or twice in the face with counters that seemed to have a chastening effect, as well as weakening her with powerful hooks to the abdomen; and as Leija returned to her corner at the end of the first round, Jesús López, covering the fight for Box Latino, sensed already that she was 'diminished'. 

Whether through tiredness or a moment of inattention, Leija left herself open as she resumed the attack in the second, and Zulina hit her. It was a right cross – a very hard one – and Leija was hurt.  

Muñoz needed no second invitation. Giving her opponent no chance to recover – it was the density of blows, in the view of López, as much as their power that sealed Leija's fate - Zulina buried her under a rockslide.  

"Have you ever had to attend to an opponent after a fight?" Luna had asked her back in March. 

Muñoz had replied that none of them were ever hurt that badly. "I do worry sometimes beforehand," she conceded, "but once the bell goes, all I think about is winning." 

When referee Lupe García stepped between them twenty seconds later, the woman from Coahuila was slumped against the ropes with Zulina pounding her as though she were a carpet.  

"Muñoz has three trump cards: excellent boxing skills, a very hard punch, and the killer instinct," ran the argument upon which Esto had based its prediction.  

So, for all we know, had Leija; but Muñoz had the gumption to play them in the order they were dealt.  

The winner should be in line now for a crack at Kwang Ok Kim´s WBC bantamweight title; (the NABF and the WBC are affiliated). In the 13 months since she made her debut with a first round KO of  Miriam Serrano, also in Neza, Muñoz  has come far; but there's no talk yet of giving up her day job. "In fact," she says, "if I had to choose between nursing and boxing, I'd choose nursing." Fortunately she doesn't have to. "The clinic where I work is very supportive," she told Luna, " and I have access there to all the gym equipment I need.

"I believe I have many years ahead of me as a boxer."  

Magdalena Leija must have thought she had, too. But now, who knows? The confidence of an unbeaten fighter is like virginity : it can only be lost once; since, once lost, it can never be recovered. At least, not after this type of shellacking. The fearless aggression with which she began the first round is gone, one assumes, for ever. That particular 'rash fierce blaze of riot' will never be rekindled, and perhaps she'd be wise to move on – there are, after all (rumour has it), other things to do in life…

The hands that heal also destroy.

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