by Geoffrey Ciani - Holly Holm is regarded by some as the best female boxer in the world. On December 4 she is scheduled to defend her WBA welterweight title against Melissa Hernandez. Late last week I was afforded the opportunity to have a brief conversation with her. Here is what she had to say:
Q: How are preparations going for your December 4 fight with Melissa Hernandez?
A: Oh, theyíre really good. The last hard day of training was today. Iím just kind of trying to taper my workouts down now and just focus on the game plan that weíve been putting together. Weíre just a week away, so itís getting close.
Q: Now whatís your strategy going into this fight, Holly?
A: Sheís definitely a tough fighter. She fights with a lot of heart and sheís a little scrapper, so I know that sheís going to be there and sheís going to try and bring her best game she has. Weíre really just working on a plan and as long as I execute our plan, than I think I can be successful in the fight..
Q: Holly, you have one professional career loss. It was against Rita Turrisi back in 2004 and I was wondering, what did you learn from this experience?
A: Well, I wasnít necessarily losing the fight, but I did learn that no matter what I should have just been more careful and I should have been more on my game and so getting into every fight since then, no matter how the fightís going I want to make sure and just stay on top of my game and just try and dominate the whole time.
Q: Which opponent or opponents that youíve faced do you have the most respect for and why?
A: I have respect for different opponents really for different reasons, but most recently I think Myriam Lamare as far as the actual person she is. She was very respectful, a very good person, and she was also one of my toughest fights and I think thatís why. Sometimes Iíve been in the ring with maybe some really successful fighters but they havenít had the best sportsman manners or have been very vulgar. I really have respect for female fighters that carry themselves professional because people kind of tend to overlook womenís boxing, anyway. I think we really should try and carry ourselves professionally because thereís a lot of fighters out there that want to be taken seriously but they donít act very professional, and I have a lot of respect for the girls that have been very professional but have also been very tough fighters and train very hard.
Q: You mentioned that a lot of fans donít take female boxing seriously and a lot of fans just donít follow female boxing, period. Why do you think they should tune in and watch your fights?
A: Well, I know that anybody who has started watching female boxing says, ďMan, I had no idea it was so excitingĒ. I think people just need to give it a chance, and also to make sure what theyíre watching. I mean, sometimes I think people could be misled by the female fight they might see on ESPN one night because theyíre a filler fight, but really itís these girlsí pro debut. Some of them sometimes have been thrown in there without even enough amateur experience and I think they look at that and think, ďGoodness, they donít know how to boxĒ. If anybody has access to watch good female boxing, which thereís a lot out thereóthereís plenty out thereójust give it a chance and youíll love it.
Q: To date, Holly, what would you consider to be the proudest moment in your career?
A: I really canít label a proudest moment in my career because there have been moments along the way that have been steps that have been awesome at that moment, but that doesnít mean that the next big moment wasnít awesome. Fighting for my first beltóthat was awesome. And then fighting Christy Martin when I was so much expected to loseóthat was awesome. When I have my first TV bout when I was the headlineróthat was awesome. You know, and it just keeps going and going, and I really canít put like a moment in my career where I was most proud.
Q: You are widely regarded as the best female boxer in the world. Does this distinction give you any added pressure to perform well?
A: I always have felt pressure to perform well before they put labels like that to me. Iíve always wanted to just perform well for the simple fact that I want to make my family proud and my friends that go and support me. Then thereís fans that, you know, some fans they may only make minimum wage. They have to work a certain amount of hours just to buy a ticket to my fight and I donít want to let them down. I mean, Iíve always felt certain pressures. It doesnít matter what it is. I do think that the further it goes, I think some pressures have been added and Iíve just learned to deal with them and work with them, but I really have always kind of felt a certain pressure to expect a lot from myself and I think that thatís been good for my career because it makes me want to always learn and get better.
Q: Is there any one fighter out there that youíve always wanted to be matched up against but never had a chance to fight?
A: You know, a lot of the girls that I always thought could be a potential fightóitís not necessarily like I thought, ďOh, I want to fight herĒóI see fights and I think Iíll probably wind up in the ring with her sometime or this would be a great fight with this fighter, and I think that through my career Iíve seen that. I know that when I first started boxing and I had about seven or eight fights, my coach had me come over and watch the Christy Martin and Laila Ali fight because heís like, ďChristy Martin is someone who used to be able to fightĒ and I knew she was a legend of the sport and I did want to fighter he because she was such a big person to me at the time. I had only had six pro fights and so thatís one that, back then, I thought. And from there, after that fight, I thought, ďMan, really, any fighter is possible for me to get in the ring withĒ. So rather than like searching and thinking I want to fight this person, I thought, ďIím probably going to fight this person some timeĒ. I just put it as something that Iím probably going to wind up doing in my career and Iím going to want to perform well, and thatís really just been with any girl. Even with Melissa Hernandez for next weekend, I remember I fought on the same card as her on the FSN show about close to two years ago, and after the fight she had fought Chevelle Hallback. I had also fought Chevelle Hallback. I thought, ďYou know, Iíll probably get in the ring with her sometimeĒ, and sure enough here it is.
Q: What are some of your short term goals coming up in the year 2010?
A: Well, one of my short terms goals, one of them would be to be successful next weekend. Thatís one of my goals. And then next year, itís like impossible for me to really think too far ahead. I just think, well, Iím going to do this fight and hopefully Iíll be healthy and be good and then weíll just have a little bit of time off and have something else scheduled. I just want to be able to fight all of these girls that are ranked high and be successful. Those are my goals.
Q: Holly, if you werenít a boxer what do you think youíd be doing with your life?
A: I donít know. My mind has changed with a lot of things over the years of boxing but before boxing, I really wanted to do some work with like news broadcasting and I went to school for one year for it. I donít really know if I was passionate enough about it that I would have finished school, but itís something that I could have been doing and then I also did go to real estate school, and that also could be something that I maybe would have wound up doing, but itís really hard to tell. The way I look at things now, I think that I can maybe open up my own business here in Albuquerque, because Iíve created a good following here and I think I can have a business here that would be successful. And I donít think I would be thinking that way, obviously, if I hadnít started boxing so I really donít know what I would have been doing.
Q: In terms of being a spectator, are you a big fan of boxing?
A: I am, but I still think that there can be some boring fights out there. If itís a boring fight I really canít be engaged to watch it too long. I am a fan of it, and like with the Pacquiao fightóI though he just performed awesome. He just keeps getting better and better and I really enjoy watching fights like that. Itís really exciting to see how somebody could really just improve and really be successful and I really do love the sport.
Q: Aside from Pacquiao, who are some of your favorite fighters to watch?
A: Well, I really enjoy watching like ESPN Classics where they have the Muhammad Ali and the Sugar Ray Leonard, and fights like that. Those are really more the fights that I like to watch is when itís the classics.
Q: Ultimately, before your career is all said and done, what would you like to accomplish in the sport?
A: If I could, and Iím trying to, I really want to fight every girl out there that is a challenge and at the end of my career I could feel like I really lived my career to the fullest. I donít want to be that fighter that just fights people that I really kind of should beat. I want them to be ranked, I want them to be tough, I want them to be confident that theyíre going to come in and have a game plan to beat me. I just think that a victory is just so much better when you know somebody has really trained for it. I really want to be able to do that as long as I can.
Q: Holly, I want to thank you very much for your time, and before I let you go, is there anything else you would like to say to all your fans out at East Side Boxing?
A: All of the fans that have been supporting womenís boxing, theyíre true fans and I just really, really appreciate them all. And you, for putting the time to talk about the fights and get it out there, and so, I just want to say thanks to all the supporters and if they havenít had the chance to really watch female boxing, just to encourage them to watch it. I can guarantee that theyíll think itís just exciting.
Q: Great. Holly, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.
A: Thank you, I really appreciate your time.
I would like to wish Holly Holm the very best of luck in her upcoming fight with Melissa Hernandez.