MONTREAL – “In the days of Christy Martin and Laila Ali, women’s boxing was simply a special attraction like Butterbeans. These girls were very good, but they had no opponents. There was not enough depth, not enough countries involved…”
Little did Yvon Michel suspect that women’s boxing would become popular in this way not so long ago, but observing the rise it has experienced over the past decade, the promoter is convinced that it has its place alongside other major sports.
“Women’s boxing will become like women’s tennis, like women’s golf, predicted Michel, Wednesday morning, on the sidelines of the last press conference promoting the gala featuring Kim Clavel that he will present Friday evening at the Montreal Casino Cabaret.
“It took a long time for women’s boxing to settle down, but that changed when the International Olympic Committee forced the sports to have parity, otherwise they would disappear. From that moment on, all the countries began to invest colossal sums.
“These investments eventually made it possible to discover stars. Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano packed New York’s Madison Square Garden last April. Claressa Shields in Savannah Marshall will fill London’s O2 Arena in September. We are really not far from the day when a girl will fill a major amphitheater in Quebec. »
The promoter observed that a new generation of amateurs began to take an interest in the sport due to the increased presence of women, a bit like what happened during Eric Lucas’ journey to the WBC super middleweight title in July 2001.
“There are people who have fears about boxing, because they know it less, who will learn to know it and appreciate it more thanks to the girls, explains Michel. There is not yet parity in terms of scholarships, but the girls nevertheless earn a good living.
“They get a lot more sponsorship money than the guys. The girls have financial institutions as partners, which we had never really seen in the guys. The girls will settle in and settle in the sport, they will become very popular. »
Obviously, Lucas did not gain notoriety just because people identified with him or with Marie-Ève Dicaire because he handles the verb brilliantly. Athletes must deliver the goods and prove that their success is not due to a trivial set of circumstances.
“I remember the first girl we signed, Chrystelle Samson, she was world champion [amateur], but without taking anything away from him, there was not much competition, recalls Michel. We hired him to help [au vice-président opérations et recrutement de Groupe Yvon Michel (GYM)] Bernard Barré, who was close to her.
” Girls [qui sont à l’affiche du gala de vendredi] are not there to show off. They have a lot of talent and we have a lot of hope in them. We will see more and more. »
In addition to Clavel and Dicaire, who is the IBF super-welterweight champion, GYM has Marie-Pier Houle and newcomer Caroline Veyre in its ranks. The one who participated in the last Tokyo Olympics will make her professional debut on Friday.
“This gala is super important: women are finally taking their place,” said Houle, who will play his eighth pro fight against Timea Belik on Friday. Kim’s title fight will be a big draw and it’s just great for the image of women’s boxing.
“There are a lot of people who talk to me about it and who bring me their children [pour en discuter] and it’s something that I love. We will face many things in our lives and the stronger we are mentally, the more we can face them and never give up. »
“I find this development in women’s boxing wonderful and I wanted to be part of this movement”, continues Veyre, who ranked 5th in the tournament under 57 kilos in Tokyo.
Casually, if Clavel wins against WBC light flyweight champion Yesenia Gomez on Friday, Quebec boxing would then have as many champions for men as for women. Yet another sign that shows that we have not finished hearing about it.
Gomez with confidence, even outside of Mexico
This time it’s the right one for Clavel