16.02.06 - By Longjab: Not that she is the only tough woman boxer that couldn’t beg, borrow, or steal a fight, but Sumya Anani is the most avoided, as far as champions are concerned. For the last two years running, Anani has been officially elected ‘The Most Avoided Woman Boxer’, of which, in some ways, is respectful, but it is more a shameful, discriminatory, and unfair stigma that surrounds her, since other so-called ‘champions’ are solely responsible for it, from their constant refusal to accept Anani’s offers or challenges to fight them.
Article posted on 17.02.2006
For example, Mary Jo Sanders, the WBC Woman’s Welterweight Champion, has refused to accept challenges from Anani on more than five occasions. Rather than fight someone, like Anani, with roughly the same skills or more, Sanders has chosen to take on easier or less risky opponents.
After watching ESPN's Feb. 3 telecast, and what was billed as a ‘Championship’ match between Sanders and Iva ‘The Terrible’ Weston, I decided to look in depth at how Sanders got to where she is at, by looking at whom she has fought in her first twenty matches.
They say that a fighter is only as good as the opposition they have come up against; therefore, this was a good way to see just how good Sanders really is, as the WBC Woman’s Welterweight Champion. As I started to look, I noticed by the time Sanders made her professional boxing debut, her first opponent, Willicia Moorehead, already had been in twelve professional fights.
At first, you might think Sanders was put into a mismatch, but when you look closer at Moorehead’s record, she had lost ten of her first twelve fights, of which 8 were by TKO or KO, in three rounds or less – the true mark of an ‘easy’ opponent that any ‘Champion’ could ‘pad’ their record on, with an easy win, which is just how Sanders built the foundation of her undefeated record of twenty wins, by stopping Moorehead in the first round, in front of Sanders’ hometown fans, at Auburn Hills, Michigan.
Well, you got to look good in your hometown, right?
Speaking of her hometown, Sanders has fought in front of her hometown fans for a total of thirteen times in her first twenty fights, in either Auburn Hills, Detroit, Warren, or Sault St. Marie, but when she has fought away from home, it hasn’t been too far away, having fought in Ohio four times and once in Minnesota. To Sanders credit, she has fought ‘on the road’ twice, having fought in Los Angeles at the Playboy mansion and, then, fighting in Louisiana against an actual formidable opponent in Belinda Laracuente, winning by unanimous decision over ten rounds.
Sanders has fought a total of five ‘easy’ opponents in her 20-fight career so far, including Willicia Moorehead, Jamie Whitcomb, and Lois Theobald, having all been stopped in the first round.
Of course, for the foundation an of undefeated record, Sanders had to fight the most notorious of all ‘easy’ opponents, when she fought Shakurah ‘Pugs’ Witherspoon, only to stop her in the third round, like Weston.
Not that Sanders has not fought some noteworthy opponents, like Laracuente, she has fought in perhaps the toughest fight of her career, when she tangled against Chevelle Hallback, but that fight was in Sault St. Marie, Michigan, in front of Sanders’ hometown fans, winning a 10-round unanimous decision. Among the other noteworthy opponents, Sanders has fought Layla McCarter, in Cleveland, Lisa Holewyne twice, in Minnesota and Detroit, Rita Turrisi, Melissa ‘Honey Girl’ Del Valle, and Yvonne Reis, all in Warren, and tough Eliza Olson in Detroit.
Speaking of the Olson fight, according to Fightnews, it was quite evident that the hometown fans were not in agreement with the decision rendered, in Sanders’ favor, per the booing of the hometown fans, and neither was Fightnews, who scored it for Olson.
You might say that Sanders has been playing the ‘Homey’, assuming that she always looked good to the hometown fans.
Other than Holewyne, Sanders has fought two other opponents more than once, when she fought Terri Blair three times, and has fought Shadina Pennybaker twice in her first four fights.
It would be fair to say that Sanders’ undefeated record is somewhat ‘padded’, having either fought ‘easy’ fights against unequally skilled opponents, fighting ‘safe’ opponents more than once, or having fought formidable opponents, but possibly benefiting from ‘hometown’ decisions.
What would legitimize Sanders’ foundation or claim, as a Champion would be a fight against an opponent with just as much to lose, as Sanders has to lose in a neutral venue for both fighters.
There seems to be one name that comes to mind that Sanders has never fought yet – Sumya Anani.
Unless Sanders accepts Anani’s offer to fight her, the foundation of Sanders’ claim as a ‘Champion’ will always be suspect in the eyes of anyone that knows more about boxing than just your average casual spectator.