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Chevelle Hallback: "You Can Go Home Again"
by Bernie McCoy
February 20, 2012

(FEB 20) Boxing is a very basic, one on one sport; two boxers, one ring, "let's get ready to rumble." However, like almost everything else, opportunity in boxing is seldom as simple and clear cut as the sport. A member of a major boxing organization told me recently, "talent isn't everything" and she was right. Unfortunately, far too many of the supposed overseers of the sport seem to take that mantra as a guide when providing opportunities for boxers. Sometimes it's a famous last name that gets a fighter a fast start; it could be an association with a movie, a "spread" in a national magazine or something equally as ephemeral. Should those fighters who take advantage of such "breaks of the game" be derided? Absolutely not. Boxing is the toughest of all sports and every athlete who has the courage to take up that sport, should take advantage of every "break" available. But the fact is that far more boxers never get such "breaks," they campaign for years solely on the basis of their skill in the ring, a passion for their sport, and an indomitable will that keeps them going through the "ups and downs" of a sport that practically invented that term. A will that's impossible to convey with mere words.

And then, every once in a while, even in the sport of boxing, the right thing happens to the right person. This time it will happen on March 2 in Tampa, FL because an Army vet, turned boxing promoter, named Jerry Estrada, decided, against substantial peer advice, to bring Chevelle Hallback back home and put her on top of an eight bout fight card in the Convention Center on the first Friday in March. It might be the first time a female boxer is headlining a program with male and female bouts in the state of Florida (there are two other female bouts scheduled that night). Estrada was still checking records when I talked to him last week from his headquarters in Tampa. But that's just a detail. The big news is that Hallback, who has had to go, literally, around the world to get fights (her last two bouts were in Denmark and France) is being provided with the opportunity to showcase her world class skill in a hometown where she has fought only once before in a fifteen year, thirty-nine bout career (an October 2005 ND against Melissa Del Valle).

Estrada related how he made his choice of main event fighters, "Chevelle is an icon in the community, not just the boxing community, all across Tampa. When I announced the fight, I got ticket requests from the school board and we'll have two bus loads of students attending the bout. And I was able to get a terrific fighter to step in with Chevelle. Terri Blair brings the same toughness to the ring that she brought the first time she fought Chevelle (an eight round decision for Hallback in July 2007). You can throw out Terri's record (11-15-3), she's been in with the best in the sport over a ten year career. This is a match-up that qualifies as a main event on any card, it just so happens that the fighters in this one are female."

Estrada is right about Hallback and Blair. In their first bout, in Temecula, CA, the decision after eight rounds of bell/bell action went to Halfback (78-74, 79-73 and 77-75) and she has said the effects of those eight rounds lasted long past the final bell. These are two fighters who have been in with the top fighters in Women's boxing and they both started early. Blair fought Mary Jo Sanders twice in her first eight bouts and Hallback stepped in with Lucia Rijker in the second professional bout of her career. Both are nonstop fighters who know one gear, forward and one pace, all out. It's what every boxing card hopes for in a main event, two good, experienced fighters with ring skills. And, to his credit, Jerry Estrada didn't waste time searching for some irrelevant title belt for this bout. This is simply eight rounds between two good fighters who have fought their way through those "ups and downs" of the sport and done it with a skill that will obvious from the opening bell on March 2. And after the bout, Jerry Estrada will probably have an answer for all those who scoffed at his choice of main event fighters.

But this is Chevelle Hallback's night. She's the one coming home. She's the one who will be answering the bell out of the "house" corner. She's the one those kids off the bus will be making noise for.

And Chevelle Hallback deserves a night at home after fifteen years of long journeys to tough fights. She deserves a night at home after fifteen years of representing herself and her sport with unique ring skill against anyone and everyone who has mattered in Women's boxing. She'll do it again on March 2 and on that night she'll also be proof positive that, even in boxing, every once in a while, the right thing happens to the right person.

Bernie McCoy

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