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Chevelle Hallback: No Small Plans
by Bernie McCoy
Photo: Tony Duffy
March 8, 2010


(MAR 8) It doesn't take long talking with Chevelle Hallback to realize she is someone who believes in the philosophy: "Make no small plans, they have no magic to stir the blood." Hallback makes clear, early in our recent phone conversation from her home base in Florida, that her future plans call for the televising of Holly Holm/Chevelle Hallback III on HBO. "I'm well aware that there's the matter of the second bout with Holly and I also know that HBO has never broadcast a female boxing bout on their cable network. But that doesn't mean it can't happen. In fact, what that really means is that since the leading boxing television network has never featured the best fighters in our sport on the air, that the time has come for it to happen."

Chevelle Hallback knows, better than anyone, that her second fight with Holly Holm, scheduled for the Isleta Casino in Albuquerque on March 26, is but the first step in her plans to stir the blood of the boxing community in this, Hallback's twelfth year in the professional ring. Asked about her first bout with Holm (May 2007) also in Albuquerque (Tingley Coliseum), specifically the fact that after ten rounds the three judges awarded 28 of 30 rounds to Holm, one expects a reply tinged with the phrase, "hometown," liberally used as an adjective in front of "decision," "venue," and "judges." Instead, Hallback answers, almost casually, "Actually, that seems about right, it just wasn't my night. By the third round I was done. I got, maybe, one round." Not only does Chevelle Hallback have a clear eyed view of what she wants to accomplish in the future, for herself and her sport, she is not one to try to rewrite the history of past bouts. This is one of the two primary qualities that separates Hallback from many of today's fighters; the other is her talent in the ring.

In her second professional bout, Hallback was stopped after five furious rounds in Corpus Christi, TX and she remembers the winner telling her, after the bout, "Stay with it. You're someone who comes to fight and when you learn more, and you will, you'll make it big in this sport." The winner of that bout and the dispenser of that advice was Lucia Rijker. Hallback did stay "with it" and she did "learn more" and over the next eight years, Chevelle Hallback won twenty-five of twenty-eight bouts against some of the best fighters in the lightweight division: Mitzi Jeter, Layla McCarter, Fujin Raika and Belinda Laracuente. At that point, Hallback left the boxing ring for eighteen months, returning to fight Holly Holm. After that setback, Hallback won an eight round decision against Terri Blair, followed by a ten round draw with Melissa Hernandez, before returning to Albuquerque, in June 2008, to win a split decision over Jeannine Garside in a bout at the Isleta Casino that overshadowed the highly anticipated Holly Holm/Mary/Jo Sanders main event. And later this month, Chevelle Hallback returns to Isleta Casino for Holm/Hallback II.

As Chevelle Hallback heads back to that familiar venue, one cannot resist recalling a line attributed to Yogi Berra: "It seems like déjà vu all over again." As noted, prior to the first Holm bout, Chevelle Hallback was out of the ring for 18 months. March 26 will mark the first time Hallback has been in a professional boxing ring since the Garside bout, 21 months ago. But as far as Chevelle Hallback is concerned, there are differences this time: "I'll be better prepared, I'll know what to expect as far as the change in altitude in New Mexico. And as far as the time out of the ring, I feel as good, right now, as I did when I was 21. I've got great trainers who are sharpening my skills and I'm sparring much more that I have in the past, even though that's the part of training I like the least. My skills will be as finely tuned as they've been in a long time. I'm looking forward to the fight, I'll be ready."

Hallback looks forward to returning to the high desert in New Mexico and not only for the chance to redeem one of her five career loses: "Albuquerque supports our sport like few other places in the country and much of that is due to Lenny Fresquez. He does things right, from start to finish. He runs a totally professional operation. When I went there this time for the press conference, I was treated like a champ. It's a first class operation and if our sport had a few more promoters like Lenny Fresquez, we'd be in a lot better shape than we currently are." The current state of Women's boxing is a subject Hallback warms to, quickly: "With the number of really talented female fighters currently competing, this sport should be much more successful than it is. It's a matter of getting those fighters in front of the fight fans, on TV. It's ridiculous that a network that calls itself the 'leading boxing network' ignores a large, talented segment of boxers simply because of some outdated view of female athletes. That's got to change, and the only way it's going to change is if and when the sport of Women's boxing realizes that we need to go to the networks with our brand, they're not going to come to us. If there's a Holm/Hallback III, it will be a perfect product to put the sport into the mainstream conversation of sports in this country."

Holm/Hallback III. That could be a bigger step forward than getting the sport of Women's boxing past the misogynist suits at HBO Sports. Twenty-one months out of the ring looms large. Hallback says she may be in the best shape of her career, but being a realistic person, she, likewise, concedes there's a big difference between "gym shape" and "fight shape." As big a difference as sparring in a gym is from stepping in against, arguably, the best boxer in the sport, throwing punches with bad intentions. On the flip side, Hallback will come out of that corner at the Isleta Casino, on March 26, possessing more punching power than any of Holly Holm's previous opponents. In the first fight, Holm's speed and quickness proved decisive. If Hallback adjusts better to the Albuquerque conditions this time, it could be a different fight. Does Hallback think she needs a knockout to win? "No," she replies, "but a KO would sure get us noticed, wouldn't it?"

In a perfect world, Chevelle Hallback would have had a couple of bouts prior to stepping back in the ring with Holly Holm. But the sport of Women's boxing is, currently, a couple of time zones away from perfect and matching Holly Holm and Chevelle Hallback later this month is as good as the sport is going to get for the foreseeable future, at least in this country. These are two talented, experienced boxers and, as further endorsement, the bout marks the initial meeting in the ring between two holders of the WBAN belt. Holly Holm brings a king size talent back to the familiar confines of Isleta Casino and she is, certainly, the favorite in the fight. Chevelle Hallback has, unquestionably, learned from the first bout and has, at the very least, a "Puncher's Chance" in this bout. Twelve years is a long time and during those dozen years in the ring, Chevelle Hallback has looked up at almost every mountain in a sport filled with them. And on March 26, she gets another chance at a mountain of boxing talent in Holly Holm. The bout is a first big step in Chevelle Hallback's plans. If things go according to those plans, a bout on HBO could be next.

Bernie McCoy

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