You don’t need to be a meteorologist to know that an extended forecast calls for a hurricane to touch down in London during the nighttime hours of March 20. Fear not, only one British citizen in particular needs to be concerned with taking cover. WBC world super-lightweight champion Chantelle Cameron will require every ounce of daring resolve to weather the storm that is Melissa ‘Huracan’ Hernandez if she is intent on bringing her green and gold belt back home later that evening. This is no enviable task.
At 41, the gregarious and widely lauded Hernandez should really need no introduction, but here is a crash course regardless. She graduated from two-time Golden Gloves champion to five-division world titleholder in fifteen years as a professional prizefighter under the tutelage of fellow Puerto Rican superstar Belinda Laracuente. A career-spanning highlight reel wouldn’t be complete without clips from Melissa’s 2007 victory over GBU lightweight champion Layla McCarter (the two have fought a total of four times, with McCarter owning a 3-1 advantage), her televised slugfest against Chevelle Hallback the following year that ended in a split draw, or an absolute bloodbath from 2013 in which Hernandez lost the WBC world featherweight title back to Jelena Mrdjenovich after having beaten her on two previous occasions.
This will be only the third fight for Melissa in the last five years, her last scrap resulting in a unanimous decision win over previously unbeaten Selina Barrios in April 2019. Covid brought a potential 2020 matchup pitting Hernandez opposite Mikaela Mayer to a screeching halt.
Chantelle Cameron is defending her WBC super-lightweight title for the first time, having taken possession of the vacant strap this past October by pitching a shutout against Adriana dos Santos Araujo while handing the Brazilian contender her first professional defeat in the process. Cameron joined the paid ranks after running up an impressive tally of 47-18 as an amateur, although she was denied the opportunity to represent Great Britain in the 2016 Olympic games when Finland’s Mira Potkonen was instead given the nod in a closely contested split decision during the World Championship preliminaries in Kazakhstan.
A power puncher with seven knockouts among her thirteen victories thus far, Chantelle is the WBC mandatory challenger to unified lightweight champion Katie Taylor, but first thing’s first. She would be well-cautioned against looking past ‘Huracan’ Hernandez which is fast approaching on her radar.
“I respect her youth. I respect her work ethic. She’s training just as hard as I am,” affirmed Melissa Hernandez. “There’s a whole thing that comes with fighting me. It’s either I’m too old or I’m too good. So, I’m looking at it the same way. She’s that good, and she’s young. So, we’re at a Mexican standoff.”
On the undercard, 31-year-old Matchroom prospect Ramla Ali, a Londoner of Somalian descent, engages in her second pro bout after debuting last Halloween with a six-round points win over Eva Hubmayer at Wembley Arena. Eddie Hearn presents Ali with a stiff test this time out by way of the more experienced Vanessa Caballero, a 36-year-old from Madrid, Spain who has won only four of her sixteen fights to date and has been stopped twice. Caballero is coming off a victory over Vanesa Caruso back in December.
Ramla is also a model and social activist who is heavily involved in the Black Lives Matter movement. She opted to turn pro when the Covid pandemic canceled the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, slamming the door on her amateur career in unceremonious fashion.
Since Melissa Hernandez was speaking of Mexican standoffs, Tijuana boxing legend Jackie Nava enters the second decade of an illustrious prizefighting career by stepping into the ring against Karina Fernandez, who fights out of Ciudad Juarez, on March 20. Known as ‘La Princesa Azteca’, the 36-4-4 (16 KOs) Nava is a sure-fire future hall of famer with the resume to back it up. She became a two-division world champion in consecutive bouts back in 2005, scoring a seventh-round TKO over Martha Leticia Arevalo to claim the vacant WBA bantamweight title before being awarded the inaugural WBC super-bantam championship by shutting out Leona Brown just three months later. In 2012, Jackie won the WBA super-bantamweight title by flooring then-champion Chanttall Martinez en route to a unanimous decision.
A partial list of Nava’s other notable victims includes Yazmin Rivas (twice), Kelsey Jeffries, Donna Biggers, Jennifer Salinas, Edith Soledad Matthysse, Lisa Brown, Alys Sanchez (twice) and the great Alicia ‘Slick’ Ashley, from whom Jackie wrested the WBC super-bantamweight belt for her third reign. She has not lost in nearly ten years, since dropping a very close decision to Ana Maria Torres in July 2011. At the age of 40, Nava is intent on crossing one more name off her hit-list, but not if Karina Fernandez has anything to do about it.
After losing her 2014 debut to Susana Uribe by split decision, Fernandez embarked on a ten-fight unbeaten streak. Her recent efforts have produced mixed results and Fernandez currently maintains a 14-5-1 record with three wins occurring inside the distance. In her one world title bout to date, Karina lost a razor-thin decision to WBA super-flyweight champion Linda Laura Lecca in 2017.
Twenty-year-old Katelynn Phelan, the 4-0 (1 KO) welterweight phenom and former amateur standout hailing from Ireland’s County Kildare who calls herself ‘The Smiling Assassin’, already has two future bouts marked on her calendar. This summer, she is set to appear on a card in Belfast, but before that Phelan faces a yet-to-be announced adversary on March 20 in Dudelange, Luxembourg on a show billed as Back to Business 3. Katelynn fought twice in each of the last two years, collecting a trio of secondary title belts last October by stopping previously undefeated Jessica Schadko in the fifth of ten rounds. Her three prior opponents had a troublingly cumulative ring record of 23-113-5, but no doubt gave Katelynn the type of formidable nurturing a young talent such as she needs at this early stage of her pro career.
“I’m really excited to start 2021 on a great card in Luxembourg,” Phelan enthused in a press release. “I am honored to be on a show with such talented boxers. But I plan to put on a big performance and steal the show.”
Two women’s bouts are scheduled to headline a boxing card at the Takapuna Rugby Football Club in Northcote, New Zealand on March 21. Auckland-based featherweight Mea ‘The Night’ Motu came charging out of the gate and has kept up a relentless pace since debuting as a professional prizefighter last October. Boasting five victories in as many outings, Motu has two knockouts to her credit.
Her adversary this evening will be Tania ‘Terminator’ Reid who, at 42, is twice Mea’s age and sports a pedestrian career mark of 2-3-1. Having begun her career as a more defensively-minded counterpuncher, the charismatic Motu has since transitioned into a fiercer style that is more to her liking and is looking forward to making a name for herself on the global stage. No doubt she is off to a great start. Motu and Reid will compete for local bragging rights, as well as the vacant New Zealand Professional Boxing Association lightweight title, in the eight-round main event.
Additionally, 31-year-old MMA fighter Genah ‘Fabioso’ Fabian laces up a pair of boxing gloves for the first time to step inside the squared circle opposite Ariane Nicholson, who has one previous bout on her resume, a sixth-round TKO victory over fellow novice Uesa Opetaia this past November.