Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Clavel-Plata: Boxing's First Unification Bout Of 2023

Women's Boxing has continued to make strides and receive long overdue recognition and respect in recent years. After all, the fight between undefeated Undisputed Lightweight world champion Katie Taylor and multi-division world champion Amanda Serrano, which sold out New York’s Madison Square Garden in April of last year was not just a landmark night for women in the sport for being the first Women’s bout to headline a card in The Garden, it turned out to be a candidate for Fight of the Year not just for Women’s Boxing, but for the sport overall. With that memorable night still fresh in the minds of many, including this observer, it seems in some ways like poetic justice that one of the first major bouts of 2023 will feature the women of the sport as two world champions put their respective crowns on the line to partially unify their division.

This observer is referring to the Light-Flyweight unification bout between WBC world champion Kim Clavel and WBA world champion Jessica Plata. The fight, which will take place on January 13th at the Place Bell Arena in Laval, Quebec, Canada and can be seen here in the United States on digital subscription sports streaming network ESPN+ brings together two of the best fighters in Boxing's lowest weight divisions. It also brings together two fighters that one might argue are similar both in terms of where they are in their respective careers as well as in their Boxing styles.

Both Clavel and Plata have had relatively short reigns with their respective portions of the World Light-Flyweight championship prior to getting to this unification bout at 108lbs. Kim Clavel is unbeaten in sixteen professional fights and has scored knockouts in three of those bouts. Clavel won the WBC world championship with a ten round unanimous decision over Maria Vargas in August 2021. Since winning the title, Clavel has successfully defended her crown twice and is coming off a ten round unanimous decision over Yesenia Gomez in July of last year. Like many women competing in the sport, Clavel can do a little bit of everything and has shown some power in recent fights in addition to her ability to box her way to convincing decision victories.

As  she now prepares for the third defense of the WBC world championship, Clavel will face a fighter similar to her, but with a slight edge in terms of experience. Jessica Plata will enter this fight with a record of 28-2, with 3 Knockouts. Like Clavel, the reigning WBA champion has the amount of knockouts and is experienced when it comes to going the distance and winning decisions, which when it comes to Women’s Boxing, where rounds are only two minutes in duration, is not necessarily easy to accomplish. Where Plata does have the edge at least statistically is in overall fights fought having been in fourteen more bouts than Clavel. Plata has also never been stopped in her career and has been unbeaten since 2017.

The WBA world champion won the title in March of last year with a ten round split decision over Yesica Bopp. While it may not necessarily be wise to go into a unification bout immediately after winning a world championship, particularly off of a close decision, it is important to keep in mind that Women’s Boxing is still growing and it is not uncommon to see fighters on the women’s side of the sport moving up and down in weight, at times on a per fight basis depending on what opportunities might be available to them. As such this opportunity to try and unify two of five would titles against Kim Clavel might have been the best option on the table for Plata both in terms of prestige as well as financially, in addition to what fights were available to her.

What this fight boils down to is two boxer/punchers in a fight that will likely be determined by moments in rounds rather than simply who is able to establish control. The reason for this comes down to the aforementioned two minute round length and that alone can create what amounts to a nightmare in terms of trying to score a fight where the rounds are shorter as compared to the three minute round length that Men in the sport are able to benefit from. In addition to the shorter round length, when two fighters are each able to have their share of moments during a round, that is what creates the conundrum/migraine for judges and is also why there tends to be more draws rendered in Women’s Boxing as compared to the men competing in the sport.

Although yours truly has long advocated for women to be able to have the benefit of a three minute round both for the benefit in terms of strategy as well as hopefully to help solve the scoring conundrum many judges face when it comes to scoring women’s bouts, something that was proved in the delayed 2020 Olympics where all women’s bouts had three minute rounds, I do not believe Clavel and Plata will be granted the chance to fight three minute rounds, though if they were I would applaud it as it would be another step forward for Women’s Boxing not just in terms of a unification bout like this, but for equality for the fighters competing in the sport overall.

With this in mind and with logic suggesting that this will be a fight fought at a fast pace due to the round length, given the style similarities between Clavel and Plata, who is able to have more moments that might sway the judges scoring of a round just might determine who wins this fight. It would not surprise yours truly however, if this fight were to end in a draw.

This fight nevertheless, does continue to show the Boxing world that the sport for the women competing in it is continuing to move in the right direction. Hopefully, 2023 will be a year of continued progress for the sport and more steps towards equality for female fighters can be made. Progress has largely been assisted by great fights between world champions, which has elevated Women’s Boxing to a level it has never been previously. Whether or not Clavel-Plata turns out to be the latest Fight of the Year candidate remains to be seen. 

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

Clavel vs. Plata takes place on Friday, January 13th at the Place Bell Arena in Laval, Quebec, Canada.  The fight as well as it’s undercard can be seen in the United States on digital subscription sports streaming network ESPN+ beginning at 7PM ET/4PM PT.

*Card and start time subject to change.*

ESPN+ is available through the ESPN app on mobile, tablet, and connected streaming devices and Smart TVs. For more information about ESPN+ including schedules, list of compatible streaming devices, platforms, Smart TVs, and to subscribe please visit:

*Check your local listings internationally.*

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