International Boxing Federation (IBF) Flyweight Champion, Ava “The Lady of Boxing” Knight (Chico, California, 8-1-3, 5 KOs) will defend her title on June 30, 2012, against Susana “Toluquita” Vazquez (Toluca, Mexico, 8-6-1, 3 KOs) at the Auditorio Centenario, located in Torreon, Coahuila de Zaragoza, Mexico. Knight’s 10-round, IBF title defense will be featured on the Mexican television network, Televisa, as part of their weekly boxing series, “Sabados de Corona.” The fight card titled, “Noche de Guerreros (Night of Warriors),” is presented by Promociones del Pueblo, HG Boxing, Kochul Montiel Producciones, and Grupo Modelo. Mexican boxing stars Marco Antonio Rubio, undefeated Roberto Ortiz, and Katia Gutierrez will also be featured on the card (in separate bouts).
Ava Knight was born in Chico, California, to a Polish mother and an African-American father. A female friend introduced her to the sport of boxing by regularly taking her to a local gym and by the age of thirteen, Knight began her boxing training. Joe Rodriguez, her first boxing coach, bestowed upon her the nickname, “The Lady of Boxing,” because of her respectful and polite demeanor in the gym. Rodriguez, his son, Louis, and Ava’s father, Eliot, helped train Knight for eight years, and are credited with producing Ava’s strong boxing fundamentals.
Knight had a stellar amateur career, which included wins over the 110 lb. Golden Gloves Champion and the National P.A.L. 114 lb. champion (twice) in 2006. She won the flyweight silver medal at the 2006 National Amateur Championships and was also a two-time San Francisco Golden Gloves titlist. Her amateur career record was an impressive 28-4.
On August 30, 2007, at the age of nineteen, Knight made her professional boxing debut, with a unanimous decision victory against Leonie Hall. Since then, Knight has defeated two current world champions, Kaliesha West in 2008, and Arely Mucino in 2011. Her only loss came in 2009, at the hands of another world champion, Ana Maria Torres. During the fight with Torres, Knight was ailing from a back injury and had food poisoning, but still managed to go the distance.
In 2010, Ava Knight moved to the SFC (Straight Forward Club) Boxing Gym in San Francisco, California, under the guidance of her current boxing trainer and manager, Ben Bautista. On October 29, 2011, with Bautista in her corner, she defeated the previously unbeaten IBF Flyweight Champion, Arely Mucino, with a second round knockout. Knight last fought on March 31, 2012, when she made her first successful IBF Flyweight title defense against Thailand’s Hongfah Tor Buamas. Knight dominated every round of the fight with Buamas, landed an abundance of punishing blows, and eventually won by TKO in the tenth and final round.
Now twenty-three years old, Knight makes her second IBF title defense on the June 30 fight card. Her opponent, Susana Vazquez, has lost six times in her career, but five of those losses were to four different world champions, Ana Maria Torres, Jackie Nava, Mariana Juarez (twice), and Arely Mucino.
Team Knight is prepared to face a battle-tested Vazquez. Knight said, “Vazquez is a very tough opponent. She has been in the ring with many great Mexican boxing stars; some that I hope to fight someday. I am training hard to make our fight a short one, but if that isn’t the case, I have been in the gym, grinding hard, to make sure we go out with a unanimous decision. I never take anyone lightly, and plan on giving the fans all they can handle.”
Coach Ben Bautista said, “Susana Vazquez is definitely a tough and worthy opponent. She has been in there with the best and has been in close fights with them. Ava is prepared to overcome Susana’s efforts in the ring.”
In preparation for this fight, Knight left her home in Chico and had a multi-week training camp in the Bay Area. Knight said, “Training camp has been going great. My coach, Ben Bautista, has been hard at work, sharpening my skills and making adjustments for our opponent. I traveled to the many Bay Area Boxing Gyms in order to get in the ring with the best boxers in the area. My father, Eliot Knight, was a great help to me in camp and it’s great to keep him involved in my career.”
Bautista added, “Training Camp has been on point. Ava has followed the script that I laid out for her. She has been free from distractions and is mentally focused on winning. We worked on many things in camp that centered on enhancing her skills and elevating her mental capabilities. Ava is still a work in progress, but she is striving to become a complete fighter.”
Team Knight is excited to return to Mexico, where they have been well received by their passionate boxing fans. Ava said, “I am very happy to be traveling back to Mexico. I love the atmosphere and the excitement from the fans. I am glad that Hector Garcia of HG Boxing is giving me the opportunity to showcase my talent on television. This will give many countries across the world the opportunity to see a great night for women’s boxing.”
Bautista agreed and said, “I love fighting in Mexico. HG Promotions always takes care of us and the Mexican people have a whole lot of love for boxing. They have shown us that you don’t have to be Mexican for them to love you. They will support a fighter who is willing to bring it every time they enter the ring, and I think that is why they love Ava. Her fan base in Mexico is growing at a fast rate.”
Team Knight hopes that the women’s boxing in America eventually catches up to the popularity it receives in Mexico. Knight said, “It is a shame that the United States hasn’t jumped on the wagon with televising female boxing, but I’m happy that other countries are willing to pick up our slack. Other countries are being entertained by displaying women that can fight and put on great shows. Women’s boxing is taking a big step with finally being added to the Olympics this year, and I am very happy that I am witnessing this day.
A lot of women work very hard, and give up a lot of opportunities to be involved in this sport. There appears to be some steps being taken toward some type of equality and I am very happy about that.”
Coach Bautista gave his opinion on the sport. “Women’s boxing is getting better, but still not close to getting the same respect as men’s boxing. Hopefully, by making great matches like the last Ava Knight vs. Kaliesha West world title fight, which was the best female fight I ever witnessed, and by bringing similar fights to a major television network, the situation will change. Also, by showcasing women’s boxing in the Olympics, it will excite more fans and invite more females to participate in the sport. With a growing fan base, perhaps more promoters will be enticed to get involved with women’s boxers and give them more decent wages.”
Knight is thankful for everyone that has supported her in preparation for this fight. Knight said, “I have to thank Coach Ben, SFC Boxing Gym, Boxing for Health, all the media, friends, family, and fans in Chico, the Bay Area, the U.S., Mexico, and all over the world for all the support I have received. I would like to thank Muscle Milk and Nike for their sponsorship. I am grateful to anyone that sent me a kind message or helped me in any way.”
Tickets for Ava’s fight on June 30 are available at the Auditorio Centenario box office and on SuperBoletos. The Televisa broadcast will begin at 7pm CT.