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McLeod-Wells Wins WIBA Title in New York
by Bernie McCoy
January 19, 2014


(JAN 19) Keisher McLeod-Wells won the vacant WIBA flyweight title, Saturday night, outpointing a game, determined Monica Flores over ten rounds at the top of Ronson Frank's Uprising Promotion's six bout card before a sellout crowd at the Five Star Banquet Center in Long Island City, NY. Two of the undercard bouts featured New York female fighters; Eileen Olszewski, who is in the process of putting a successful cap on a professional ring career that has positioned her near the top of the flyweight division for most of her professional career and Jennifer Santiago, who exhibited the type of ring skills that may portend future, similar success for her in the bantamweight ranks.

The McLeod-Wells/Flores bout was a somewhat difficult contest to score. Flores, coming to the bout at 111, gave away nearly eight inches in height, but was clearly the aggressor throughout most of the ten rounds. Both fighters missed almost as many punches as they landed; McLeod-Wells, 109, often unable to locate the bobbing, weaving Flores while the shorter boxer was hard pressed to get inside the jab of her taller foe and land her effective right and left hooks to the body and head. Throughout the ten rounds, Flores fought with a move forward aggression, while McLeod-Wells' strategy was to keep the bout in the center of the ring and Flores on the end of long reaching jabs and right hands. At her best, the taller fighter was slightly more successful with her game plan, but neither boxer dominated the bout for long stretches of time, each round evolving into a surge and counter surge by each boxer. The judges concurred that McLeod-Wells' strategy prevailed: Ron McNair and Frank Lombardi called the bout 97-93, while Robert Perez had it 96-94, all for the new champion. From my ringside view, I was inclined toward the closer score. Both fighters had their moments in the back/forth battle and McLeod-Wells emerged a deserving champion, raising her record to 7-2, the game Esquibel dropped to 3-2.

Eileen faces off with Esquibel (we have no fight photos)

Eileen Olszewski, coming off an impressive showing in winning the IFBA flyweight title with an eight round stoppage of Patty Alcivar at this same venue in September, seemed a bit shaken when Jodie Esquibel stormed from her corner, carrying the fight to the veteran and winning the first round of their scheduled six round bout, with a series of overhand lefts and rights that left Olszewski backtracking for most of the opening stanza. It was Esquibel's best round of the bout. Olszewski, showing a champion's poise under pressure, gathered herself for the second round and met Esquibel's aggression with a full measure of her own. The next four rounds were closely fought with each fighter taking charge for brief periods, but, it seemed to me, in each of those rounds, Olszewski came to the bell with a slight edge. Esquibel, to her credit, never stopped coming and in the final round gave it one more all out effort, trying desperately to snatch a win in a very exciting, competitive bout. The judges saw it for Olszewski: Lombardi and Tony Lundy had it 59-55, while, again, Perez saw it closer, 58-56. Esquibel clearly won the first round and came on strong in the sixth, giving some credence to the closer count. In the end, however, it was Olszewski's ring know how that prevailed in a very good bout. Olszewski increased to 9-5-2, while Equisabel dropped to 6-7-1.


It's always dangerous to predict future success based on a single contest, but Jennifer Santiago provided at least some wishful thinking about her ring future for her many fans, who were gathered in the Long Island City venue, with a solid six round decision over Peggy Maerz. Santiago, tipping the scales at 117 had a three pound advantage over Maerz, 114. Throughout the bout, Santiago exhibited ring movement and speed of hands, generally associated with veteran boxers, despite the fact that Saturday's six rounder was Santiago's third professional bout. She continually switched, almost effortlessly, throughout the six rounds, from an orthodox stance to southpaw and was able to land continually and effectively from both stances. Maerz, to her credit, kept hanging in against Santiago's superior skills, but the scorecards accurately reflected the bout, with a final tally of 60-54 (2x) and 59-55. Santiago now has three straight wins to begin her professional career, while Maerz's tally is 2-5.

Both the Olszewski and Santiago wins resulted in the winning fighters being awarded UBF (Universal Boxing Federation) title belts following the announced decisions. The ceremony was accomplished with minimum fanfare and was accompanied by no acknowledgement from the ring announcer. On a more positive note, the six bout card, like all of Uprising Promotion's past programs, was noteworthy for two distinguishing aspects: an enthusiastic, sell out crowd, sectioned into groups throughout the venue continually and loudly supporting their favorites. This is somewhat reminiscent of the New York City clubs of the 1950s that were spotted around the five boroughs and played a major role in positioning boxing as a major sport, at that time, in the city. But even more significant to the fans of the Women's boxing is the continued support Uprising Promotions has provided the deep talent pool of female fighters who populate the New York City environs. It is an element one can only hope that other local promoters, in the largest fight market in the country, seek to emulate.

Video by Michael Campbell of the Wells-Flores bout:





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