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Brooke Dierdorff -Mia St. John: A Welcome Return
by Bernie McCoy
March 23, 2009

     
   
   
   
   

(MAR 23) Boxing fans will probably recall the recent Kina Malpartida/Maureen Shea ten round bout in Madison Square Garden. Fewer of those fans may remember the title belt that the two female fighters were competing for on February 21 (it was the WBA super featherweight crown). The point is that ten good rounds of boxing, by two well matched fighters, in this case female featherweights, is the really important element of any fight; whether or not that bout is for a championship belt is of a secondary consideration. Simply put, while championship belts, in the sport of Women's boxing, are almost as numerous as the number of fighters in the sport, well matched bouts, featuring skilled, quality boxers are all too rare.

On April 4, in Tamaulipas, Mexico, Mia St. John and Brooke Dierdorff will fight eight rounds for something called the WBC International female lightweight title. Believe me, that title belt is practically irrelevant next to the possibility of eight good rounds of female boxing that night in Mexico. The women's bout is underneath Edgar Sosa defending his WBC light flyweight title and, based on their first fight, the Dierdorff/St. John bout is a good fit for this big time boxing card. Almost two years to the date of the upcoming bout, Dierdorff won a split decision over St. John in a six round bout in Merrillville, IN. From all reports that fight, in Indiana, was a fast paced, competitive bout, with Dierdorff, an action fighter, starting fast and holding off a late charging St. John. It was a close decision and, like the Malpartida/Shea Garden bout, a good example of what boxing can be when well matched female fighters are in the ring.

"I just want to prove that when I beat her the first time it wasn't a fluke." Brooke Dierdorff is talking, by phone, from Elgin, Illinois last week, about the return bout. Dierdorff looks to the bout in Mexico as a chance to confirm her win over St. John two years ago, and, also, as an opportunity to set the record straight, on a couple of other matters surrounding the first bout.

"I took that fight on four days notice after Rita Figueroa got hurt and had to drop out. I didn't have time to properly train and make weight but I still thought I won easily. There was a lot of talk about how I got a 'hometown' decision. The fact is I live in Illinois and the fight was in Indiana, and the truth is that Mia was the attraction that night, she was the 'house' fighter. She even came into the ring wearing the promoter's logo (One in a Million Promotions is located in Merrillville). Mia's a good fighter and I appreciate the opportunity to go to Mexico and fight her again, but I won that first bout straight up."

Brooke Dierdorff comes to her reputation as an "action fighter" honestly, she talks quickly, much the way she fights, in three and four sentence combinations. She doesn't waste time with small talk, but instead looks to land her points in a straight forward, direct manner. "I've never looked for easy fights, I want to fight the best fighters out there. I don't have a big support team surrounding me. I work full time, 7:30-3:30 each day, and then I go to the gym to train." Dierdorff does come to the bout having lost her last four fights, and that has prompted some criticism within the boxing community regarding the viability of the bout as a "title" fight.

To put that element in perspective, the four fighters Dierdorff lost to were Jeannine Garside, Alica Ashley, Ela Nunez and Jennifer Barber, who, collectively, had a 76% winning percentage at the time of their bouts with Dierdorff. It's yet another point supporting the conclusion that it's not some minor WBC title that's the important element of this bout in Mexico on April 4. Rather, it's the fact that two female boxers have a chance to show just how good their sport can be before a large crowd of knowledgeable Mexican boxing fans. Kina Malpartida and Maureen Shea did exactly that for New York boxing fans in Madison Square Garden last month and if Brooke Dierdorff and Mia St. John match the quality of their first bout, a sold out crowd in Mexico will have the same reaction that the crowd in the Garden had: "that was a damn good boxing match," not a good female boxing match, a good boxing match.

And if the sport of Women's boxing is to resurrect into a viable sport, it will be good bouts that lead the way; two female fighters with quality skill fighting each other. Are Brooke Dierdorff and Mia St. John the best lightweight boxers in the sport? No. And Kina Malpartida and Maureen Shea aren't the best featherweights. And that's not a knock on those fighters. Rather it's an affirmation of the depth of talent that, today, exists in Women's boxing. And that depth of talent does not consist solely of well known names or veteran female fighters. That depth of talent consists of female boxers who have honed their skill in numerous amateur programs and Golden Gloves tournaments, opportunities that have, only in relatively recent times, opened up to female boxers; female boxers not all surrounded by entourages, female boxers many of whom head for the gym after putting in a full day of work. And the result is that there are more female boxers with skills worthy of the label professional currently on the Women's boxing scene than at any time in the sport's existence. Brooke Dierdorff, Mia St. John, Maureen Shea and Kina Malpartida fit comfortably into that category. And when that skill is properly showcased, boxing fans recognize good boxing, regardless of gender. Malpartida and Shea nearly stole the show at the Garden last month and Dierdorff and St. John have the same opportunity in Mexico on April 4.

Champioship titles? There are far too many of them in the sport of Women's boxing. It's almost gotten to the point that the proliferation of international, junior and numerous other minor titles have made those belts forgettable and a detraction to the one title held by the best fighter in each weight division. The sport can scrap all those minor belts and not miss a beat. What the sport cannot miss is the opportunity to stage more bouts between fighters with quality boxing skill. There was one in the Garden last month and there may be one in Mexico in a couple of weeks and then, just maybe, it will get through to those who currently pose as the leadership in the sport of Women's boxing, that it's not the glitter of championship belts, it's the quality and skill of the females in the ring that counts. That's why eight rounds of Brooke Dierdorff and Mia St. John is a welcome return, indeed.

Bernie McCoy

 
     
     
   
     
 
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