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Interview: Jackie Nava

Photos: Rafael Soto Gil / Zanfer

This upcoming Saturday night, Tijuana’s favorite daughter Jackie “Aztec Princess” Nava (24-4-3, 11KOs) challenges the current super bantamweight WBA champ Chantall “Fiera” Martinez (15-4, 6KOs) in a rematch of their 2010 fight which Nava took via a unanimous decision. Slated for the Tijuana Municipal Auditorium, The female ten round championship fight will be televised live in Mexico by the reigning Azteca channel. Featured in the semi-main event of the Zanfer Promotions event, Tijuana jr. flyweight champ Felipe Salguero (15-2-1, 10KOs) takes on Colombia’s Carlos “Shanghai” Melo (21-13-1, 2KOs) in a ten round clash.

Despite the thirty-one year old Nava being crowned the first WBC female champ in the organization’s history, the Tijuana native has jumped ship and will be challenging for a World Boxing Association title for the second time in her career. The first being the WBA 118 lbs. strap back in 2005 which she captured via 7th round TKO. “I don’t really feel any nostalgia not fighting for a WBC title. I respect the title from any organization. I have always been with the WBC but there are some issues between them and my promoter at the moment. If I am given the opportunity to fight for the absolute title of the WBC since I have the interim title right now, then I would accept it. Right now they have given me the opportunity to fight for the WBA and we are going to go after it.”

The match up will be the second fight in a row that Nava enjoys in her hometown.

“The support that I got last time, with the auditorium full, made me very happy,” Nava said after an intense training session at the Reyes Gym in east Tijuana. “This time we are bringing everything since she is the champion. Maybe she would come out trying to out box me or to just do enough to stay champion but we are going to for the knock out.”

In her last fight, Nava punished Argentina’s Soledad Matthysse over ten rounds. Despite the tough Matthysse hanging with Nava, it was obvious that the former world champ’s experience and superior skills were just too much for the sister of both Walter and Lucas Matthysse. “I was expecting for her to go many rounds. Argentineans are known for being very strong and the majority of them that I have fought come with everything. We knew that we had a strong opponent. I had seen only one fight of her, not enough material to say that she had a lot of experience. She was very strong and had a lot of heart. She came with everything but finally my speed and my defense helped me inside the ring with her.”

This Saturday, Nava will face an opponent she is very familiar with although se expects for Martinez to bring a little more than the last time they met.

“I have seen some changes. We have noticed that she uses her distance in the beginning of the fight but is not consistent with that,” Nava explained. “She is very repetitive with her combinations and she is not very fast. That is when I will try to take advantage.”

One thing that Nava is hoping for it to be very different this time around is her health. In their last bout, Nava suffered an excruciating injury in the fifth round when as she puts it, “the arch of my foot snapped.” The injury resulted in Nava not being able to support her weight on the foot which lead to her being dropped in the seventh round. Despite of it, Nava still was able to limp away with the victory.

“I attribute my injury to maybe not drinking enough water,” Nava said of her lesion. “I had suffered some cramps to my foot but I didn’t really pay it any mind. Something snapped, maybe I didn’t hydrate myself correctly, maybe I drank more sodas than water, I don’t know, maybe I didn’t have enough potassium. It was very painful and long recovery.”

“I didn’t think I was going to fight again,” she continued. “I was in a cast for about two months. I couldn’t support myself on the foot and I wasn’t able to make many movements. I had to get my confidence back. My first fight back, I didn’t really feel my foot one hundred percent. I fought anyways. I am not going to say that sometimes it doesn’t bother me because it does but I do therapy and its getting better.”

Many do not know that Nava began as a martial arts practitioner, more specifically as a kick boxer and muay Thai. As she competed in those disciplines, Nava also began her boxing career at the prompting of her trainer Miguel Reyes. A three divisional North American kick boxing/muay Thai champion in his own right, Reyes has been a driving force in the mixed martial arts scene in Tijuana. Because of his knowledge, Reyes says that he trains Nava a bit different which has helped in her success.

“I have been in mixed martial arts for a long time and technique and strategy is used a lot in kick boxing and muay Thai and especially in mixed martial arts,” Reyes said as he watched Nava shadow box. “When we decided to stay in boxing, I began to develop my techniques for boxing and began to use them with her. By her fourth pro fight, she was the Mexican national champion.”

Because of those techniques and past success, Reyes is confident that Nava should easily defeat Martinez despite of what happened in their last encounter, “it was a complicated fight because of the injury that Jackie suffered on her foot. I feel that she is a bit difficult because she is tall and reach she possesses. Since we already know her, I think that Jackie’s speed and movement are superior to hers. I think that is the advantage that we have over her to win this fight.”

Nava agrees with her trainer that her injury had a lot to play with the result of their previous fight and despite Martinez’s new found experience the end on Saturday night might be completely different but with the same result, a Nava victory. “We do know that Chantall does have more experience, she has seven more fights than when we first fought. She says she is coming much more prepared, she said that last time they gave her less than a month and that it was at a higher elevation. I think this time the fight is going to be as it should have been.”

“I was very affected by the injury I suffered during the fight. I felt that I could finish her but by not being able to throw more than two punches at a time; I wasn’t able to finish her off despite seeing that I was hurting her. We are going to fight intelligently from the beginning. We know what her weaknesses are inside the ring and we are going to capitalize on that.”

With a win here, Nava would only have one order of business next, another episode of the on going war with Mexico City’s Ana Maria Torres who after a hard fought draw, defeated Nava in a controversial decision last year. According to Nava, the bout is in the works for May and she is ready to drop down to bantamweight to face off against the popular Torres.

“It looks like it but I might have one before hand so I don’t have to wait that long,” Nava said smiling at the thought. “If it is going to be in May then I will wait. It looks like they want to do it in Aguascalientes and it looks like they want to broadcast it on two networks. It would be the first time that they do that and it would be a big boom in Mexico if they can make it happen.”

The career of an elite fighter is a short one compared to other sports. A fighter might only remain on top making a big money purses for only as long as they wear a belt around their waist. Nava, a two-time world champion, knows that her success came late in her career and now in her thirties, she knows that her career is in its final stages but remains happy about her place in the pantheon of female boxing.

Maybe it would have been great for my success to have come earlier but I think everything at its due time,” the humble Nava said. “Maybe if I would have gotten that attention or support earlier in my career it would have made me more nervous inside the ring. Maybe I am not going to get those really big purses but I think that being one of the first and opening doors satisfies me enough. I don’t ask for anything more, I am very happy with my promoter and the television network for their support. I don’t know how much I have left, it might be a little, it might be more, I don’t like giving dates but I am going to continue to take advantage of the moment.”




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