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, they’re really good. The last hard day of training was today. I’m just kind of trying to taper my workouts down now and just focus on the game plan that we’ve been putting together. We’re just a week away, so it’s getting close.
Q: Now what’s your strategy going into this fight, Holly?
A: She’s definitely a tough fighter. She fights with a lot of heart and she’s a little scrapper, so I know that she’s going to be there and she’s going to try and bring her best game she has. We’re 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 wasn’t 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 fight’s 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 you’ve 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 that’s why. Sometimes I’ve been in the ring with maybe some really successful fighters but they haven’t 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 women’s boxing, anyway. I think we really should try and carry ourselves professionally because there’s a lot of fighters out there that want to be taken seriously but they don’t 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 don’t take female boxing seriously and a lot of fans just don’t 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, “Man, I had no idea it was so exciting”. I think people just need to give it a chance, and also to make sure what they’re watching. I mean, sometimes I think people could be misled by the female fight they might see on ESPN one night because they’re a filler fight, but really it’s these girls’ 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, “Goodness, they don’t know how to box”. If anybody has access to watch good female boxing, which there’s a lot out there—there’s plenty out there—just give it a chance and you’ll love it.
Q: To date, Holly, what would you consider to be the proudest moment in your career?
A: I really can’t 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 doesn’t mean that the next big moment wasn’t awesome. Fighting for my first belt—that was awesome. And then fighting Christy Martin when I was so much expected to lose—that was awesome. When I have my first TV bout when I was the headliner—that was awesome. You know, and it just keeps going and going, and I really can’t 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. I’ve 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 there’s 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 don’t want to let them down. I mean, I’ve always felt certain pressures. It doesn’t matter what it is. I do think that the further it goes, I think some pressures have been added and I’ve 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 that’s 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 you’ve 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 fight—it’s not necessarily like I thought, “Oh, I want to fight her”—I see fights and I think I’ll 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 I’ve 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 he’s like, “Christy Martin is someone who used to be able to fight” and I knew she was a legend of thesport 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 that’s one that, back then, I thought. And from there, after that fight, I thought, “Man, really, any fighter is possible for me to get in the ring with”. So rather than like searching and thinking I want to fight this person, I thought, “I’m probably going to fight this person some time”. I just put it as something that I’m probably going to wind up doing in my career and I’m going to want to perform well, and that’s 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, “You know, I’ll probably get in the ring with her sometime”, 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. That’s one of my goals. And then next year, it’s like impossible for me to really think too far ahead. I just think, well, I’m going to do this fight and hopefully I’ll be healthy and be good and then we’ll 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 weren’t a boxer what do you think you’d be doing with your life?
A: I don’t 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 don’t really know if I was passionate enough about it that I would have finished school, but it’s 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 it’s 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 I’ve created a good following here and I think I can have a business here that would be successful. And I don’t think I would be thinking that way, obviously, if I hadn’t started boxing so I really don’t 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 it’s a boring fight I really can’t be engaged to watch it too long. I am a fan of it, and like with the Pacquiao fight—I though he just performed awesome. He just keeps getting better and better and I really enjoy watching fights like that. It’s 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 it’s 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 I’m 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 don’t 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 they’re 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 women’s boxing, they’re 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 haven’t had the chance to really watch female boxing, just to encourage them to watch it. I can guarantee that they’ll think it’s just exciting.
Q: Great. Holly, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.
A: Thank you, I really appreciate your time.
This article was also published at East Side Boxing