Dynamic 4'11" "Downtown"
Leona Brown was born in Buffalo, New York on July 27, 1960
and fought out of Pawling, New York. Leona quickly achieved prominence
as a professional boxer after
getting into the ring at the age of 37.
This relentless infighter and
body puncher took the
women's 119 lb title at the 70th New York Golden Gloves tournament
with a win over Nancy Brody of the Julio Rivera Boxing Club.
She then took the silver medal
in the 119-lb division at
the first US national amateur championships
in Augusta, Georgia
in 1997, losing a 4-1 decision to fellow New Yorker
Leona won her pro debut,
fighting at 118½ lbs, with a four-round unanimous decision over Lisa Foster (5'7", 118½ lbs)
of Washington, D.C. at Yonkers Raceway, New York on November 21, 1997.
Foster was also making her pro debut.
On January 19, 1998
at the Tropicana Resort and Casino in Atlantic City, fighting at 117½
lbs, she won a 3rd-round
TKO over Sue Chase (116½ lbs) of Ohio, a former state kickboxing
champion. (This was Chase's thirteenth straight
loss as a pro boxer.)
At the same venue on March 21,
1998 she weighed in at 116 lbs and stopped Natasha Wilburn (113 lbs) of
Atlanta by TKO at 1:49 of
the fourth round. Wilburn fell to 0-5 with this loss.
A bout with 39-year-old
Vanessa McKnight of Columbia, South Carolina that was scheduled for the
Tropicana on May 24, 1998
was called off at the last minute when the pre-fight medical found that
McKnight was pregnant!
Returning to the Tropicana on
July 31, 1998, Leona won a six-round split decision over the
skilful Sonya Emery of Austin, Texas, who fell to 4-3 (3 KO).
On August 15, 1998 at Arizona
Charlie's in Las Vegas, Leona came in at 117 lbs and took an
eight-round unanimous decision
over Suzanne Riccio-Major
(115 lbs) of East Nassau, New York. The win over the capable
Riccio-Major, who has fought for the IFBA and WIBF world bantamweight
titles, boosted Leona's
reputation and earned her a
shot at the vacant IWBF junior flyweight title.
On September 11, 1998, back at
the Tropicana again,
Leona faced Katie Burton (5'7", 121 lbs) of Thunder Bay, Ontario,
Canada for the IWBF title.
Katie, a promising 22-year old, was still a work
in progress as a boxer despite being ranked #2 before this bout. Burton
to stay outside and jab, but despite having a more than six-inch height
over Leona, she couldn't handle Leona's aggressive infighting style,
nor could she figure out how to use her power to slow Leona down. She
to get in close and often tried to hang on when she was in trouble,
allowed Leona to work her body at close quarters.
Leona earned a clear unanimous
(99-91, 98-93, 98-92) 10-round decision while Katie got (apparently
much needed) experience against an aggressive terrier who could get
under and through her defense throughout a long fight.
Leona was Inducted into the
Buffalo Boxing Hall of Fame on October 16,
1998 for being the first female boxing champion, and the seventh
to come out of Buffalo.
On June 11, 1999 at the
Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City, Louisiana,
Leona went up against Eva Jones-Young
of South Bend, Indiana
for the IFBA Bantamweight Title that had been vacated by Bridgett
Leona suffered her first loss in eight pro fights, dropping
a 10-round unanimous (99-91, 98-92, 98-92)
decision as Young moved to 12-2-1 and took the title belt.
On July 10, 1999 the IWBF
announced that it had stripped Leona of the Junior
Featherweight title that she won against Katie Burton for failure to
sign a contract to
defend it within the mandatory period.
On July 20, 1999 at Casino
Windsor in Windsor, Ontario, Canada,
Leona weighed in at 116 lbs and dropped a six-round unanimous decision
Canadian junior bantamweight Margaret
(5'1", 111 lbs). Sidoroff tried to go toe to toe with Leona for a
but discovered that Brown was able to handle her best shots even when
Sidoroff landed cleanly. In the later rounds the always-adaptable
star switched gears and used her speed to offset Leona's power.
This was a hard fight from which Sidoroff emerged battered
but ahead on the scorecards while some ringsiders told Leona that they
she may have been on the short end of some "home cooking"!
Margaret Sidoroff told Dee that she felt she had given up a couple of
rounds to Leona, adding: "It was great! Leona is really nice!
I'd heard that she was ... abrasive, but I
was pleasantly surprised to find that she is a friendly person as
well as a talented athlete. Leona has some unorthodox methods of
fighting on the inside, but other than that we had a lot of fun."
Her second straight loss against a top-flight opponent
dropped Leona's pro record to 7-2, while Margaret Sidoroff
moved to 6-0 with the win.
Leona called for a rematch on her home turf next time!
On October 1, 1999, at the
Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City, Louisiana,
Leona won the IFBA Junior Featherweight title
with a tenth-round TKO of Dee Dufoe
of Bakersfield, California.
Brown had rocked Dufoe in the seventh and ninth and was leading on the
scorecards by one point when the referee stopped it in the tenth. Brown
moved her pro record to 8-2 and showed she was still a force in her
class as Dufoe slipped to 6-3 with her second straight loss in a
Leona told me later: "Nine months of
not fighting can build lots of ring rust.
The "rust is off", Downtown is back in stride again!
I'm gunning for rematches with Sidoroff and Young.
After I take care of them, I'm gunning for Aboro,
and my ultimate goal ... Riley!
Don't ever count me out
of this game!"
On February 26, 2000 Leona's
career was recognized when she was selected
to be a recipient of the Black Prestige Award.
On May 13, 2000 at Sartory
Säle in Cologne, Germany, Leona (121 lbs) got her bout with
WIBF Junior Featherweight champion Michele
Aboro (120 lbs),
in a 10-rounder for Aboro's title. The British-born Aboro, based in
won by a unanimous decision (99-92,100-90,97-93). Aboro moved to 16-0.
On June 29, 2000 at Viking
Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
1997/98 USA Boxing National Amateur 125-lb gold medalist
New York moved her pro record to 4-3 with an eight-round
split decision over Leona.
Judges Manny Altman and Ron Greenley scored it 77-75 and 78-74 for
Ashley; Rose Vargas scored it 78-76 for Brown.
On November 2, 2000 at Freeman
Coliseum in San Antonio, Texas. Kathy
Williams of Thunder Bay, Canada, moved to
12-2 and successfully defended her Miller Lite Bantamweight title
by a narrow decision over Leona. Esteban Erik Stipnieks
wrote to Women's Boxing Page that it was "ugly
... wrestling, holding, not breaking when
told to. Leona Brown's camp was adamant they were robbed. The fight was
close down to one point.
Kathy Williams had moments of brilliance while Leona Brown found a home
On December 2, 2000 at Nowa
Hala Sportowa in Gdansk, Poland,
(5'4¼", 126¾ lbs) of Poland won
a 77-75,77-75,78-74 eight-round decision over Leona (120 lbs).
My correspondent tells me that this was an ugly bout as
Guzowska usually waited too long before countering Brown,
who always tries to work in close to negate her opponents'
reach advantage. He also says that "most of the time they
just ended up
wrestling. Guzowska waited too much and
didn´t impress." Guzowska moved her pro record to 7-1 while
Leona slipped to 8-6.
On April 27, 2001 at the
Convention Center in Niagara Falls, New York,
of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
won her fifth pro bout in a row with a six-round
unanimous (57-55, 57-56, 57-56) decision over Leona in a thriller.
Leona took a series of big punches from Lisa in the first round and
went down hard, according to FightNews reporter
Leona then came back to floor Lisa with a roundhouse counter right over
left later in the round. Lisa decked Leona twice more in the second but
"Downtown" Leona, who was fighting on her home turf, pressed the action
began to tire in the third and outhustled the former Canadian national
champion in the second half of the fight. Leona had Lisa "on the verge
of a knockout"
at the final bell, according to Courtemanche. Lisa Brown was the 1999
Canadian national 54-kg
amateur champion and 1998 silver medalist.
Lisa Brown advanced to 5-0 (3 KO's) with the win.
On July 27, 2001 also at the
Convention Center in Niagara Falls, New York,
Leona (116 lbs) scored a TKO over Ria
Ramnarine (110 lbs)
of Trinidad at 0:24 of the fourth round. Ramnarine fell to 4-3.
On August 31, 2001 at Cedar
Bridge Academy in Bermuda City, Bermuda,
won the vacant IWBF Bantamweight title and moved her pro record to 6-0
(3 KOs) with a ten-round decision over Leona
(117 lbs). There were no knockdowns in this hard-fought rematch of
their April 27 war in Niagara Falls.
On January 25, 2002 at the
Rollins Center at Dover Downs Raceway in Dover, Delaware, A sellout
crowd of 1,600 saw
Lakeysha Williams (119½ lbs) of Philadelphia defeat Leona (120½ lbs) by
a unanimous (57-56) six-round
decision in a close fight. Williams used her jab to control the the
always-aggressive Brown. When Brown worked her way
inside, she landed to Williams's head and body and got the better of
the close-quarters action. Williams picked up her
pace in the fourth and set down harder on her punches, knocking brown
down with a hard right. Brown shook off the
knockdown and continued to fight hard, but the knockdown may have been
the difference on the scorecards. Williams advanced
to 4-3-1 (no KO).
On July 12, 2002 at Civic
Center in Glen Falls, New York, Leona easily won a six-round unanimous
decision over Renee Richardt Douglas of
Fenton, Missouri in a junior featherweight bout. Douglass fell to 7-1-1
On November 9, 2002 at Trend
Eventhotel Pyramid in Vösendorf, Vienna, Austria,
(121¾ lbs) of Hoorn, Holland
won the WIBF Junior Featherweight title vacated by Michele Aboro with a
closely-fought ten-round unanimous decision over
Leona Brown (121 lbs). Schouten advanced to 11-2-0 (4 KO) with the win.
On March 29, 2003 at Seminole
Indian Casino in Coconut Creek, Florida,
Ada Velez (120
lbs) of Puerto Rico won by a disqualification
over Leona (120 lbs) at 1:18 in the seventh round. Referee Armando
Garcia had previously deducted two
points from Brown for holding. Velez improved to 13-1-1 (6 KO).
On August 21, 2003 at Adams
Mark Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, LaKeysha Williams
of Philadelphia won a six-round unanimous decision over Leona (119
Williams improved her record to 7-5-2 (1 KO) with the win while Brown
fell to 10-12-0 (4 KO).
Leona Brown vs. Missy Fiorentino
© Copyrighted photo taken by Peter Mark Heintzelman
On May 14, 2004 at Rhode
Island Convention Center in Providence, Rhode Island, Melissa Fiorentino of
Cranston, Rhode Island won a six-round unanimous
(60-53,60-53,59-54) decision over Leona. Fiorentino controlled the
fight but Brown (43 years old) didn't give up and according to WBAN
correspondent Peter Mark Heintzelman, taunted Fiorentino
while the decision was being announced, saying "She couldn't
knock the old lady down! ... She tried, but she couldn't knock
me down!". Fiorentino improved to a perfect 9-0-0
(6 KO) record with the win. [See the fight
On May 23, 2004 at Club Avalon in Denver, Colorado,
local boxer Terri Lynn Cruz of Denver in the fourth round of a
scheduled eight-rounder. Brown caught Cruz with a wide right hook that
hit its mark, followed by another right hook to the back of the head,
followed by an uppercut, which caused the fight to be stopped. Cruz
fell to 10-4-2 (6 KO) with the loss.
vs. Kelsey Jeffries in June 2004
© Copyrighted photo taken by Mike Blair
On June 17, 2004 in the
Umpqua Grand Ballroom
at Seven Feathers Casino in Canyonville,
Oregon, IFBA Featherweight champion Kelsey Jeffries (123 lbs) of
Gilroy, California won an eight-round unanimous decision over Leona
(122 lbs). Jeffries used her boxing skills, her jab and a lot of
patience to defeat Brown, who tried to rough Jeffries up at close
quarters and was deducted a point for holding.
"She did everything bad that I’ve ever experienced”, said
Jeffries after the fight. Jeffries
improved to 27-8-0 (2 KOs) with the win, her second in six days. (For
more photos of this fight, see WBAN Photo Gallery #182 on
Records Member Site).
On August 24,
2004 at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, New York Leona
(118¾ lbs) won a six-round unanimous (58-56,58-56,59-55) decision over
Olga Heron (121¾ lbs) of Mississauga, Ontario Canada. The fight was the
last on a card televised live by ESPN2's "Tuesday Night Fights" but was
not shown. Heron fell to 3-5-0 (1 KO).
20, 2004 at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, New York Leona
won a ten-round unanimous (100-90,100-90,100-90) decision over
24-year-old Stephaney George of Georgetown, Guyana for the vacant WIBC
Bantamweight world title. George fell to 5-3-0 (0 KOs).
On May 30, 2005 at the Grand Hotel in Tijuana,
Mexico, Leona (118 lbs) lost a 10-round unanimous
(100-88,100-88,100-89) decision to Jackie
Nava (118 lbs) of Mexico for the WBC Women's Bantamweight
world title. According to ringside reports translated for
WBAN by Ewan Whyte, "Brown came out fast with a flurry of
head shots in the opening round but Nava put her down with a straight
left. Everyone but Nava appears to have thought: 'This won't last
long," but Brown has never been stopped and even though the referee was
eyeing her pretty closely towards the end -- the left side of her face
was badly swollen -- she made it through to the final bell. The pace
actually picked up from the sixth onwards, with Nava going all out for
the stoppage and Brown trying to get back into the fight."
The ringside reports highlighted Nava's accuracy at midrange, hooks to
the liver and straight rights and lefts to the face. The fight was
watched by Julio César Chávez, Erik Morales, Antonio Margarito and
Manuel Medina, among others.
Both fighters were full of praise for each other at
the end. The Mexican reporters felt that Nava was clearly superior, but
Nava said: "When I knocked her down in the first round, I
didn't become over-confident. I couldn't stop her because she is very
experienced -- still, it was exciting for the fans." Nava,
who was the reigning WBA Women's Bantamweight champion, improved her
record to 10-1-1 (7 KOs) with the win. She praised Leona's
courage and powers of resistance while Brown called Nava a "great
Leona also said that she wanted a rematch as she felt that with more
time to prepare (she had taken the fight on about a week's notice) she
could take Nava.
On July 21, 2005 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose,
Jeffries, (118½ lbs) of Gilroy,
California won a six-round unanimous (60-54,59-54,59-54) decision over
Leona (122 lbs) in a rematch of their 2004 bout. Jeffries
improved to 33-8-0 (2 KOs).
On March 3, 2006 at
Salle Antoine-Labelle in Laval, PQ, Canada, former Canadian amateur
champion Danielle Bouchard (5'2", 119½ lbs, age 38) won a four-round
unanimous (39-37, 40-36, 39-37) decision over Leona (117½ lbs). WBAN
ranked Bouchard #8 at junior featherweight and Brown #9 at bantamweight
before the bout. Brown fell to 13-17-0 (5 KOs) while Bouchard improved
to 4-1-0 (1 KOs) in the pros, her one loss coming to Jerri
boxing record, fight reports, and huge digital photos you can go to the