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   "Say What"
By Bernie McCoy
August 8, 2003
Listening to Mia St. John talk about quality boxing opponents is a bit like listening to Jennifer Lopez talk about quality movies; there is a distinct disconnect, in both cases, with the subject matter. In fact, the critical reaction by ESPN announcers to St. John's last bout, on the network, with Jessica Mohs, was very similar to movie critics' "take" on Ms. Lopez's movie "Gigli"; both were considered unwatchable.

I am assuming that Mia's "response" to the challenge from the Kelly Whaley team for a rematch of the two women's January, 2000 bout (Whaley's second bout, St. John's fifteenth) was done by electronic mail or press release. I doubt St. John would risk standing in front of a microphone and uttering such laugh lines while at the same time trying to keep a straight face.

St. John states that "....we were told that the commission would not approve her (Whaley) because of her record". There is a world of difference between "being told" that the commission would not approve a fighter and the commission actually "turning down" a fighter. Was the commission actually consulted about Kelly Whaley as an opponent or was it just assumed that the "commission would not approve her"? Did anyone around St. John actually want to risk going to the commission with Whaley's name?

Another interesting question: Why was Whaley immediately approved for a California bout on August 23? Last time I checked, Nevada and California both had fairly reputable boxing commissions. Could it be that the California commission looked past the top line record of Kelly Whaley? Could it be that the California commission took note of the quality opposition that Whaley has been in with? Could it be that the Nevada commission would have done exactly the same thing if the name of Kelly Whaley had been actually submitted as an opponent?

Another knee-slapper follows close behind in Mia's "response": "My original opponent for my last fight was ko'd by Mark Ratner because she had too many losses on her record. Kelly has a worse record than she did so it would be even harder to get her approved". Probably just as hard as trying not to burst out laughing at that particular path of logic. Mark Ratner has been around boxing long enough to know the adage, "its not what the record is, its what the record means". In Kelly Whaley's case, her record features quality opposition: Jo Jo Wyman, Liz Mueller, Ann Wolfe, Gina Guidi and Marischa Sjauw are all fighters Kelly Whaley has fought and yes, lost to. However, as most people in sports know, there are losses and there are losses, and many of Whaley's losses have been to the top fighters in the sport. My guess is Mark Ratner would have had no trouble spotting this particular detail and properly factoring it in when considered Kelly Whaley as a suitable opponent. My guess, also, is that Mark Ratner never got that chance.

Mia saved the best "punch" line for last: "However, after my September 19 fight, I will be looking to fight a fighter ranked by the WIBA--the only federation that seems to have any credibility". Aside from the obvious danger of getting anywhere near the term credibility, what does this say about St. John's September 19 opponent? Will she, at least, be a warm body? Here's a safe guess; whoever she is, she won't have been in the ring with Wolfe, or Mueller or Guidi or Sjauw.

Is Kelly Whaley a great fighter? No. However, if you spend enough time in gyms, you hear a term of praise almost as laudatory as "great fighter". Kelly Whaley is an "honest" fighter. She goes where the fights are, she doesn't duck quality opposition and every time out, every time, she "leaves it all in the ring". She'll again be doing what all honest fighters do, stepping into the ring with quality opposition, on August 23 in Sacramento. Its a shame St. John didn't give her a shot on September 19; more money, more exposure. What's even more of a shame is that St. John tries to "spin" the reason with some laughable drivel.

Bernie McCoy


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