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Melissa Shaffer
© Copyrighted photo taken by Allan Messick


4'11" straw-weight Melissa "Haymaker" Shaffer was born on September 22 1978 in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

She made her boxing debut on May 7, 2002 in Little Rock, Arkansas, weighing in at 95½ lbs for a four-round bout with Sarah Goodson (5'0", 105 lbs) of Paris, Arkansas. Goodson (then 5-11-0) won by decision but she had previously been scheduled to fight Denise Mullins (1-1-0) on this card and the substitute bout was not sanctioned by the ABC, so it went into the official records as an exhibition.

On June 22, 2002 at Wild Wings Club in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Melissa  won a four-round unanimous decision over debut fighter Melanie Lawson of Rowland, Oklahoma.

On November 23, 2002 at Wild Wings Club in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Melissa won a four-round unanimous decision over Nikki Verbeck of Paris, Arkansas, who was making her debut.

On January 7, 2003 at New Daisy Theater in Memphis, Tennessee, Melissa  won by a TKO at 1:51 of the second round over debut fighter Almeda Titus in a straw-weight contest. According to news sources, Titus came on strong in the first round but received two standing eight counts in the second before the referee called the fight. 

On February 4, 2003 at New Daisy Theater in Memphis, Tennessee, Melissa (100 lbs) won by a second-round TKO over newcomer Hollie Dunaway (105 lbs) of Fort Smith in a straw-weight contest. Dunaway began the bout aggressively and at a fast pace throwing straight jabs and big right hands from the opening bell but Shaffer wore her down by working the body and landing left hooks to the head. The second round was just as exciting until a big left hook to the body had Dunaway stunned and receiving a standing eight count and ended with Shaffer landing a huge left hook to the body that prompted the referee to halt the bout at the closing bell of round two. 

On February 22, 2003 at Memorial Hall in Waldron, Arkansas, Melissa (95 lbs) won by a first-round KO over Jayde Chafardon (98 lbs) after a brief slugfest that ended when several hooks to the body sent Chafardon to the canvas. Chafardon was making her debut.

On March 22, 2003 at Wild Wings Club in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Melissa  won by a first-round TKO in a rematch with Nikki Verbeck of Paris, Arkansas. Verbeck fell to 0-3 with her second loss to Shaffer.

On June 14, 2003 at World Class Fitness Center in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Melissa (102 lbs) won a four-round decision over Gina Abel (112 lbs) of Alex, Oklahoma who fell to 0-4-0 (0 KO).

On December 27, 2003 at the Civic Arena in St. Joseph, Missouri, USA, a crowd of nearly 2000 saw Melissa (100 lbs) TKO debut fighter Rena Hill (95 lbs) at 1:25 in the second round.

Up to this, Melissa had built an unbeaten record against less than stellar opposition. She was about to make a major change in her preparation and her level of competition.  Shaffer told WBAN:

"I quit my job, said good-bye to my true friends and family (that was the hardest part), moved half way across the country, got new managers and new trainers. The main reason that I left Arkansas was that I got depressed and disillusioned about where my boxing career was going. I was depressed because my record was mostly an illusion and it was easy for other people to make fun of it. I couldn’t live with that and it became obvious that staying where I was and getting what I wanted were two things that just didn’t go together."

Melissa (r) with Kim Messer
Photo courtesy Kim Messer

Shaffer moved to Seattle and began to train with Korean-born former world champion Kim Messer. "Kim Messer’s agent ... was looking for female Korean boxers. To be able to take advantage of the opportunity that he was talking about I knew that to be ready for the challenge I was going to need a new trainer. That’s when I kinda’ spilled my guts to him about my situation and asked if he could get me in touch with the Messer camp. They said they would be willing to take a look at me, so I took a trip up to Seattle for a weekend training session. I was overwhelmed and a little embarrassed at first but Mark and Kim made me feel more comfortable by telling me that they were more interested in what I did have than what I didn’t. The thing that they were looking for most was “heart.” Of course they told me this after I sparred with Kim and received the worst ass beating I’d ever had. Kim didn’t knock me down with head shots or anything ( She wasn’t trying to) but kept working my body to see if I’d give up. To me this was worse, kind of like slow torture instead of a quick death. But, somehow I managed to make it through."

"I asked them if they’d take over management of my boxing career. In their eyes I had ‘passed the test’ in the ring with Kim that day. They saw what they wanted to see…that I had ‘heart’…and yes, they would help me. The training has been hard, both mentally and physically but exciting, because I’m learning something new every day about how to develop a style of boxing ... before I was just a brawler and I fought from my gut because I really didn’t know much more ... I want to become a legitimate boxer who’s respected by my peers. I’d like to stay busy, and win or lose be able to hold my head up knowing that I gave it my best."

On December 19, 2004 Melissa faced 18-year-old Korean champion Ju-hee Kim over ten rounds for the IFBA Junior Flyweight world title in Songnam, Kyonggi Province, South Korea.  Kim was the early aggressor and took advantage of her height, reach and speedy footwork to work her jab to Shaffer’s face from the start. She bloodied Shaffer's nose in the third, but Shaffer showed the 'heart' that had persuaded the Messers to train her and tried to rally in the late going. Ju-hee Kim won the bout by a unanimous (100-90, 99-91,100-89) decision to become the youngest world champion in the history of the IFBA, but Shaffer had the important experience of a ten-round fight far from home under her belt. Ju-hee Kim advanced to 6-1-1 (2 KO) with the win.

On November 12, 2005 Melissa fought in South Korea again, at the Seoul Health University Gymnasium in Sungnam-City. The bout for the IFBA Minimumweight title was won by Cho-rong Sohn (103½ lbs) of South Korea, who defeated Melissa (102½ lbs) by a ten-round unanimous (99-90,99-90,97-92) decision. Son improved to 4-1-0 (2 KO's) while Shaffer fell to 8-2-0 (5 KO's).

Hollie Dunaway battles Melissa in February 2006
© Copyrighted photo taken by Allan Messick

On February 16, 2006 at Harrah’s, in North Kansas City, Missouri,
in the main event, Hollie Dunaway (99 lbs) won a 10-round unanimous decision over Melissa (98 lbs) defending the WIBA World Minimumweight title.  When the winner was announced, the ring announcer declared that there was a “new WIBA World Minimumweight champion.” so Shaffer briefly celebrated while Dunaway and the ref looked puzzled.
 Dunaway improved her record to 15-4-0 (9 KOs) while avenging her first pro loss, while Shaffer fell to 8-3-0 (5 KOs) with her third straight loss in a world title fight.
(For more of Allan Messick's photos of this fight, see MPEG/Photo Gallery #333 on the WBAN Records Member Site).

After the bout, Melissa's manager Mark Messer filed a protest with the WIBA because there was no WIBA representative at the bout, and a WIBA rule requiring a post-fight urinalysis for both fighters was not followed. Dunaway had failed such a physical after her previous bout in Germany, testing positive for anabolic steroid use.

On May 13, 2006 at the Fairgrounds’ Ford Pavilion in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Melissa (104 lbs) stepped in as a late replacement and dropped a four-round unanimous (40-36,39-37,39-37) decision to Albuquerque's Jodi Esquibel (106 lbs). Shaffer traveled to Albuquerque on 36 hours' notice when Esquibel's schediled opponent dropped out. She looked rusty as Esquibel started the fight busily moving in and out of range with effective jabs and one-two combinations. Shaffer began trying to time Esquibel with her counters in the second but the New Mexican's speed and hsutle kept her out of trouble. Melissa began to find her timing and caught Esquibel with several good rights in the third, slowing Esquibel down, but Esquibel picked up her pace again in the fourth and outworked  Melissa for a clear unanimous decision.  Esquibel improved to 3-0 with the win while Melissa fell to 8-4 (5 KO's). 

Melissa lands a right on Jodi Esquibel, Sept 9 2006
© Copyrighted photo taken by Mike Blair

On September 9, 2006 at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Washington,  Jodi Esquibel (105 lbs) and Melissa (103 lbs) faced each other for the second time, with Melissa gaining revenge for her earlier loss by a 40-36,40-36,39-37 unanimous decision. According to WBAN correspondent Mike Blair, "Esquibel was aggressive in the opening round, throwing jabs early to keep Shaffer at a safe distance. Then, towards the end of the round Shaffer settled into a rhythm and began to let her hands go. That move changed the direction of the fight, though one judge did score the opening round for Esquibel. Shaffer pursued Esquibel around the ring in the following rounds, and while Esquibel threw the straighter punches, Shaffer was more economical, throwing and landing at the right moments. Many of Shaffer's punches came from the outside in, thus she was able to land to the body, and scoring there proved to be the difference in the fight. To land punches in the third and fourth round the women had to fight on the inside. That caused a frightening moment for both women when they lunged in and knocked heads. Though both of them grabbed their foreheads, there was no damage and the fight continued. Shaffer seemed to easily fall into a rhythm, pursuing Esquibel and landing body shots while Esquibel tried to avoid the assault." Melissa's record improved to 9-4-0 (5KO). Jodi Esquibel suffered her first defeat and fell to 3-1-0 (1KO).  See Photo Gallery #389 for more of Mike Blair's photos.  

On April 14, 2007 at Harrah's Casino in Mayetta, Kansas, 2005 and 2006 national amateur 101-lb champion Chantel Cordova of Pueblo West, Colorado won a six-round unanimous decision over Melissa, moving her own pro record to 7-0-1 (3 KO's). 

Sandra Ortiz takes a stiff right from Melissa
© Copyrighted photograph taken by Mary Ann Owen

On July 2, 2007 at Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California, Melissa (100 lbs) defeated WBAN #12 ranked straw-weight Sandra Ortiz (99½ lbs) of Topeka, Kansas by a six-round unanimous (60-54 x 3) decision. Shaffer proved too quick and too strong for Ortiz, using her southpaw stance to deliver quick shots to Ortiz’s head with little danger of counters. A clash of heads in the third round bloodied Shaffer's nose but she delivered some payback by giving Ortiz a bloody nose with her left hand punches in the fifth. Shaffer improved to 10-5-0 (5 KO's) while Ortiz fell to 7-5-1 (4 KOs). (For more photos of the fight by Mary Ann Owen, see WBAN Photo Gallery #434 on the WBAN Records Member Site).

On August 18, 2007 at the Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio, Colorado Jodie Esquibel defeated Melissa by a five-round split (49-46,47-48,48-47) decision in the "rubber match" of their three-fight series. According to reporter Chris Cozzone, "Esquibel swept the first two rounds with ease, zipping in and out of range and bombarding Shaffer with speedy combinations that had the Seattle southpaw mystified. But, in the third, Shaffer started to time counter shots while Esquibel began to remain in the pocket longer, trading Shaffer with fast and furious combinations. Shaffer perfected her attacks in the fourth, putting Esquibel on defense and forcing her back with harder, cleaner shots. After two close rounds, Esquibel regained control in the final frame, outworking and outlanding Shaffer with blazing punches while eating less counters."  Esquibel improved to 5-2-0 (2 KOs).

On May 31, 2008 at the Chameleon Club in Budapest, Hungary,
Krisztina Belinszky (99 lbs) of Budapest won a ten-round unanimous (99-92,99-92,98-92) decision over Melissa  (99¼ lbs)  and captured the vacant GBU and WIBC Minimumweight world titles.  According to JollyDee, "Belinszky began the bout with  a very aggressive style and later dominated and outscored Shaffer in every round with jabs and body shots.  After the fight Shaffer behave very sportsmanlike and congratulated Belinszky". 
Belinszky improved to 22-7-2 (9 KOs) with the win.

On April 22, 2010 at the 19th annual Tulsa Charity Fight Night at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, Chantel Cordova (106 lbs) of Pueblo West, Colorado won a six-round unanimous decision over Melissa Shaffer (104 lbs), who is now based in Pensacola, Florida. Cordova, a 2005/2006 US amaterus champion, improved to 8-1-1 (3 KOs) while Shaffer dropped to 10-8-0 (5 KOs).  Among the celebrities attending the charity event were former world champion Sugar Ray Leonard, former heavyweight contenders Earnie Shavers and James "Quick" Tillis, former middleweight contender and the figure behind the Denzel Washington movie "Hurricane", Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, comedian Eddie Griffin and boxing historian Bert Sugar.

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Page last updated: Friday, 09 August 2013


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