When in the prize ring against a heavy hitter, it’s wise to employ sound defense. Ava Knight, the IBF female flyweight champion of the world who trains out of Oakland, is a heavy hitter. And Mariana Juarez, likewise a titlist at 112 pounds, doesn’t employ sound defense.
“She boxes well, but she just gets hit too much,” Knight (9-1-3, five KOs) said of Juarez (35-5-3, 16 KOs), whom she’ll meet Saturday in Mexico City. “And with someone like me, it’s gonna be dangerous.”
Knight, 24, might be right.
The stylish Juarez may have not lost a bout in five years, but she’s labored in her previous two contests. And San Francisco’s Ben Bautista, Knight’s trainer, believes the 32-year-old Mexican and veteran of 43 fights is due for defeat.
“She’s old now,” Bautista said of Juarez. “Her time is over. It’s Ava’s time.”
Despite her last three fights being in Mexico, this will be Knight’s first venture to Mexico City and its 7,000-foot altitude — a condition that can be inimical to the unprepared fighter. But a two-week stint at Shane Mosley’s training facility in Big Bear and a 10-day stay in Mexico suggests Knight is prepared.
But prepared both fighters should be, for Saturday’s main event — despite Knight’s 112-pound strap not being on the line — will likely settle the debate as to who is the best flyweight in the world. And for said debate, Knight has a simple strategy.
“I’m not leaving it up to the judges,” she said.
But to do that, Knight will have to strike hard and often. And Juarez, too, knows how to strike a blow — as well as a pose.
“I can’t knock her for it,” Knight said of her opponent’s August nude shoot with Playboy Mexico. “I guess she looked really good.”
But knock Juarez unconscious this Saturday in Mexico City, Knight will try.