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Nava returns
By Ewan Whyte
February 2, 2007

     
   
   
   
   

 

Not having fought since May 20th, when she was knocked out and robbed of her WBC title by Alejandra Oliveras of Argentina, 'The Aztec Princess', Jackie Nava, wanted a warm-up before confronting her nemesis on the 3rd March in Buenos Aires for the return. After several cancellations, she got her wish in Tijuana on Monday evening as Eli 'La Cubanita' Ruiz of El Fuerte, Sinaloa, answered the bell in the Palenque del Hipódromo Caliente for the first of six scheduled rounds.

Giving away almost two kilos (at 53.5 kg to her opponent's 55.4), 'La Cubanita' turned out to be a muscular young woman with a shaved head and a fearsome scowl that belied her appalling record (0-10-0 going into this fight); but although Nava found her repeatedly in the course of the first two rounds with her left hand – now to the head, now to the body – she might as well have been fighting Oddjob for all the impact the blows seemed to have.

In the third, though, the former WBC champion began dusting off her combinations, and in the fifth, her hooks; and to these the Sinaloan had no resistance. She'd already visited the canvas twice when Nava unleashed the nastiest of all – her trademark hook to the liver – fifteen seconds from the end of the round. The effect – on Ruiz, as on a number of her earlier opponents – was devastating; in fact, of Nava's fourteen wins, nine have come inside the distance, with a crippling hook to the liver the most frequently cited cause. Nava sometimes follows with a combination or a straight right to the jaw, but this was neither necessary nor possible in this case. "The hook alone was sufficient. It stopped her dead in her tracks," wrote Christian Espinosa in El Sol de Tijuana, "As soon as she felt it, the woman from Sinaloa fell, her face a mask of pain." And a mask of pain it remained, even after the referee, Juan José Ramírez, had completed the count.

"I think the worst thing that can happen to a fighter in the ring is not knowing what to do differently when things aren't working," Nava told La Vereda back in 2005. The whole emphasis of her training then was on developing as wide a range of skills as possible; and although she lacked sharpness on Monday and could still improve her movement (as she admitted herself), her performance, in the view of Espinosa, "demonstrated clearly that she still has enormous resources and speed as well."

This result on its own, of course, is a meaningless indicator of how Nava can be expected to perform on the 3rd March. Quite aside from the fact that here she was fighting in her home town and there she will be on a different continent, or that here she was fighting a winless fighter whom she had already defeated, and there she will be fighting an undefeated champion who knocked her out last time they met, the styles of Ruiz and Oliveras are completely different. Ruiz, on Monday, was trying to use the full area of the ring – without much success, apparently – whereas when she fights Oliveras, as Nava told Espinosa yesterday, "she's going to be the one doing the attacking" – hence the emphasis on movement. Although she was winning on Monday, she says, "they were scolding me in the corner, trying to get me to do up there in the ring the things we've been working on in training."

She can take heart, though, that Oliveras's own form in recent months has been far from impressive; and if she really has overcome the psychological effects of her defeat last May ("at the time, I was inconsolable") and can remain focussed, Nava has every chance, when she faces 'La Locomotora' for the second time, of becoming the first woman to recapture, just as she was the first in history to obtain, a WBC title.

 
     
     
   
 

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