By Steve Cummings
Photos: Mary Ann Owen
Mia St. John is ready for her rematch this Tuesday (August 14th) with Christy Martin. While she surprised many boxing observers in their first fight (December 6, 2002) just by going the distance, she expects to come away with the win this time and the WBC light middleweight title. The card is appropriately title “The Final Victory” because St. John wants to walk away with the belt and retire from sport.
The “Final Victory” takes place at Table Mountain Casino in Friant, CA and is being promoted by Roy Englebrecht.
When St. John (46-11-2, 18 KOs) and Martin (49-6-3, 31 KOs) first fought in December of 2002, Mia was a huge underdog and thought by many to be in for a rough night at the hands of the hard-punching Coal Miner’s Daughter. St. John displayed improved boxing skills that night and went the distance, losing a unanimous decision by scores of 97-93, 97-93 and 99-91.
This time around, St. John says with her conditioning still being top-notch and her boxing skills even more refined, she is going to be in control.
“To land a clean shot on me is going to be really difficult,” she says. “You can’t really knock out a boxer, a mover, because we won’t just stand there and get hit. I use a lot of lateral movement. I’m here, I’m there, you really need to get me to stand still and I’m not going to let that happen.”
Martin has promised to score a knockout, which would be the 50th win of her pro career. Mia says there is no chance of that because she is going get her work done in the ring without standing and trading with the knockout artist.
“I’m too smart for that. If she thinks I am going to stand and brawl she is nuts. I don’t do that. I box. If she wants to chase me around the ring and hope to land a big shot, good luck.”
This showdown was originally supposed to take place in June but Martin had just endured the trial and conviction of her ex-husband Jim Martin in April for a violent attack on her. Her husband was found guilty of a brutal assault that left Christy stabbed and shot, staggering out in the street near their home. The huge weight of the trial was too much for Christy to overcome and train properly so the show was pushed back to this Tuesday.
This could be the last fight for both fighters. They have both had long, successful careers and each were highly visible in the days when women’s boxing was first gaining notoriety. While Mia was piling up wins fighting for Bob Arum, she ended up leaving the mega-promoter because she wanted to find out just how far she could really go in this sport.
“I went through a lot when I left Arum,” she says, looking back. “He didn’t want me to fight Christy, didn’t want me to fight more than 4 rounds or fight anyone tough. I wanted to see how good I was and I found out. Not the best, but damn good. I beat a lot of girls that people thought would kill me and they didn’t.”
It didn’t happen right away, but St. John eventually got the training she needed under Robert Garcia and became a better fighter.
“My first fight without Arum I got knocked out but I didn’t care. I would rather know the truth. After that I went with the Garcias and they changed my style and I’m glad. I wanted to know. It didn’t mean anything to live the façade.”
In search of her 47th win this Tuesday, Mia St. John also looks to win the WBC title that means so much to her.
“It still haunts me losing the belt in Mexico. I want the WBC belt around my waist. It is the most prestigious belt a fighter could have. My goal is to retire with that belt.”
St. John has talked retirement before but she has given in to the same forces that have kept so many other fighters in the ring long after they have said they would hang up the gloves. She says this sport is very hard on a fighter’s ego and that someone who competes for years doesn’t want to admit that they can’t do it anymore. But she is taking this fight because, in her mind, the playing field is level. She and Martin are close to the same age, they have close to the same amount of fights in their careers, they are on equal ground. But that isn’t true about the rest of the fighters against whom she would have to defend the title should she win it.
“After this, there is no reason that I should be in the ring,” she says. “After I win and take her title, then I will have to defend it against fighters half my age and I am not going to do that. I am going to let the other girls fight each other for it.”
The “Final Victory” takes place at Table Mountain Casino in Friant, CA and is being promoted by Roy Englebrecht. The Table Mountain Casino is located at 8184 Table Mountain Road Friant, CA. Doors open at 6p and the first bout is at 6:30p. Tickets are available at the box office (800-541-3637). You must be 18 years or older to attend.