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Alicia Napoleon Comes to a Crossroad
by Bernie McCoy
June 5, 2016

(JUNE 5)   Every professional fighter who participates in the sport of boxing, no matter how long, or what level of success they achieve in the ring, share many experiences as their careers unfold: long hours training in the gym for a short burst of the spotlight in a professional ring, the necessity to block out the pain that comes with that training and the pain, that inevitably exists in a sport where infliction and absorption of pain are necessary measurements of the success that is achieved in those brief interludes of intense competition. One other aspect familiar to all boxers is that at various times during their careers they arrive at, and must deal with, a crossroad which will go far towards determining the direction of their careers. Alicia Napoleon came to such a crossroad Friday Night in what was termed a "special feature attraction" on Lou DiBella's nine bout card at the Resorts World Casino in Queens, NY.

Napoleon posing with Trainer Danny Nicholas
Photo credit: Xavier Porter

Napoleon, being groomed as a fighter with a promising future as a super middleweight, was facing, in the sixth bout of her nascent career, Latasha Burton, a Houma LA fighter she had already beaten, via a second round stoppage, nine months earlier. This time, Burton came to the ring a significantly different opponent compared to the previous outing, beginning with a nine pound advantage, 162 to 153, over Napoleon. Burton also established, in the opening two minutes, that she intended to stick around longer, much longer, this time. Both fighters exchanged long range jabs and power punches in the first stanza, a close round with Burton appearing to earn a slight edge. The second and third rounds were likewise bell/bell action, with both fighters trading long range jabs and short punishing blows in frequent bursts of infighting. Two trends seemed to emerge, Napoleon was intent on making Burton pay for her infighting tactics with a focused body attack and that strategy seemed to be noticeably wearing on the Louisiana fighter.

The middle rounds followed the same pattern with Napoleon not quite taking control of the bout but maintaining, at the very least, a slight edge in each round. A surprising, continuing scenario was that each time it appeared the Long Island fighter was on the verge of taking over the fight, Burton would reach down for some, yet untapped, reserve and take the momentum, briefly, away from Napoleon. In fact, these rallies by Burton resulted in the bloodying of Napoleon's nose as the bout wended through the middle rounds. With one round to go, Napoleon was, from my view, comfortably ahead on points, but comfortable was hardly an appropriate adjective for the toll those seven rounds had taken on each fighter. Burton seemed spent, but she had come back time and again during the bout and the eighth round represented a final two minute chance for her to pull out an
unlikely win.

Napoleon, on the other hand, had the option of coasting through the final round, given the lead she had built up in the previous rounds. However, as the fighters touched gloves in the center of the ring for the final round, Napoleon seemed to glare at Burton, actually baring her mouth piece and as the bell rang, the Long Island fighter was the one who, this time, seemed to reach to tap into a reserve of strength and it was Napoleon who, attacking in all four corners of the ring, seemed to take the role of the fighter who needed to pull out a win. Instead, what I believe she was doing was making a final, conclusive statement regarding this bout, this tough bout, probably one tougher than anticipated. At a crossroads point, probably the first of many in her career, Alicia Napoleon reached the decision that an emphatic win was the statement she wished to make.

And this time, the gallant Burton had no answer, the seven previous rounds had taken their toll. Napoleon followed Burton around the ring throwing punches from all angles, finally trapping Burton on the ropes and raining punches that had ring officials standing on the apron urging a stoppage, which referee Eddie Claudio did at 1:43 of the final stanza.

Unfortunately, this bout, in a scheduling quirk, followed the ten round main event and when the first bell rang for Napoleon and Burton many in the night's large crowd who had enjoyed the previous bouts had departed. Those fans missed a good bout. Those fans missed the opportunity to possibly say in the future, "I was there when Alicia Napoleon started living up to what she is today." Is there greatness in Napoleon's future? Who knows. Boxing is a tough sport, maybe the toughest. Nothing is guaranteed, but Friday night at Resorts Casino, Alicia Napoleon, came, as all fighters must, to probably the first of many crossroads she'll confront in her career. Did she get through? Just check with any of those fans lucky enough to stick around and watch the final eight rounds of the night. Alicia Napoleon did considerably more than raise her record to 6-0.

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