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The Knockout Gets Out
by Bernie McCoy
May 28, 2003
There is an adage in high stakes poker that advises, "If, after a half hour, you don't know who the weakest player at the table is, get out of there fast". Mia St John may have taken that advice when she backed out of her bout with Lucia Rijker, scheduled for June 21, underneath the Lennox Lewis/Kirk Johnson fight. St John's nominal explanation for "getting out of there fast" was that the bout was not going to be televised and the money was lacking. Another reason might be that St John realized just how weak a hand she was playing by stepping into the ring against Rijker.

Throughout her career, St John has exhibited a distinct lack of punching power. Although she has 13 KOs to her credit, those were achieved against opposition that was  barely deserving of the label. In her last two fights, St John dropped decisions, in December, to a clearly out-of-form Christy Martin and, in April, to Jenifer Alcorn. Neither of those decisions could be termed "disputed". Nonetheless, confirming the maxim that a celebrity is "someone who is famous for being famous", St John was propelled into a coveted spot on the undercard of the Lennox Lewis bout against Lucia Rijker. That the fight was in Los Angeles seemed to confirm that "celebrity" had much to do with St John landing on the card.

Rijker, on the other hand, has had a quixotic several years. Once considered the "baddest woman on the planet", she campaigned relentlessly, and, ultimately, unsuccessfully, to get into the ring with Christy Martin. Rijker, to date, has fought only four rounds in just under the last four years. She has established a record of backing out of fights for a variety of reasons and even prior to the bout with St John being announced, a report circulated that Rijker was going to fight Jane Couch in Holland on June 8. The possibility exists that this Rijker/Couch matchup could be moved to June 21, now that St John has "gotten up from the table".

Couch would seem to present a ideal opponent for Rijker. Couch, a seasoned veteran and a resolute fighter, comes straight ahead and lacks devastating punching power, a combination made to order for the Lucia Rijker of several years ago. Once the bell rings, Couch will certainly not be difficult for Rijker to find, presuming, of course, that Rijker's long period of inactivity has not dulled the intense style that resulted in fifteen straight wins.

Sumya Anani has also been suggested as an opponent for Rijker on the June 21st card. Anani currently occupies the spot in the sport of Women's boxing that Rijker once held.  Anani may be the best female fighter in the ring today, she certainly is the best in the welterweight division, by a wide margin. Before Rijker even thinks about stepping in with Anani, Lucia needs to test herself against other less dangerous opponents and guage, realistically, where she is, physically, as a result  of the long period of inactivity. 

Thus, what can be expected on June 21? Lalia Ali and Valerie Mahfood are already on the undercard in a rematch of their one-sided bout, that Ali dominated last November.  And, while Mahfood has promised to "bring some changes" this time, it is hard to imagine any way in which she can overcome what is obviously a unfavorable matchup for an intrepid fighter. Add to this the fact that HBO, with its usual Luddite programming view towards Women's boxing, will probably not "air" any of the Women's matches and it would seem that the angst being expended about filling the card with an opponent for Lucia Rijker may be "much ado" about something that will never get on the air.

Its probably preferable that Rijker and Couch either keep their original June 8 date in Holland, or match up later in the Summer on ESPN, Fox Sports or the undercard of a PPV bout. If Rijker can prove that she is still the force she once was, there are several compelling bouts in her future; Sunshine Fettskether and Fredia Gibbs to mention two. If Rijker gets through those two formidable foes, Mount Anani awaits. Mia St John? She was smart enough to "get up from the table" before the Rijker bout and she might now give some thought to working her way back up the ladder of the sport, like most fighters coming off two straight losses. Kristy Follmar and Rolanda Andrews sound like a couple of good places to start. Unfortunately, its probably inevitable that the next time a prime spot opens up for a Women's boxing bout, the name of Mia St John will be one of the first ones called to the table. She might even be "sitting in" with the likes of Anani, Fettskether, Gibbs and Couch when, where she really belongs is at the "penny ante" table. Bernie McCoy


Related Link:

Anani Will Fight Mia..By Sue TL Fox - May 26, 2003

Speaking of Rijker..What is UP with the June 8th card in Amsterdam?
..By Sue TL Fox - May 26, 2003

Another Challenge to Rijker...No, NO Excuses



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