On August 29 at the Forum in Inglewood, California, Yulihan Alejandra Luna Avila(12-2, 1 KO) of Mexico will defend her IBF World female super-bantamweight title for the first time against challenger Maureen “The Real Million Dollar Baby” Shea (24-2, 12 KOs) of Oxnard Beach, California.
The 21-year-old Avila turned professional in 2011 at the age of 17 and promptly lost her second professional bout to Aracely Palacios, who was winless in one earlier professional outing. Avila avenged the loss nineteen months later edging Palacios (5-5) by a six-round, split-decision. Avila has three other split-decision victories two of which came against fighters experiencing their professional debuts. The other, a four-round win over the tough, but limited Lesly Morales (5-5). Morales lost a six-round unanimous decision to Shea (55-59/55-59/54-60) in October 2013.
In June 2014, Avila dropped a ten-round unanimous decision to Jessica Gonzalez (6-1-1, 1 KO) who represents the lone A-level fighter on her docket. Just five months later, Avila won the vacant IBF World female super-bantamweight title by defeating hard-punching Argentine Carolina Marcela Gutierrez (22-5-1, 13 KOs). Gutierrez, a former flyweight, is best known for holding the interim WBA World female super-flyweight title (10-2010 ~ 1-2012) before moving up to bantamweight.
Avila fights out of the orthodox stance can best be described as a boxer/counter-puncher who needs room to execute her attack. She owns a superb jab and is good defensively, but mostly due to inexperience, isn’t developed after that. She is not aggressive and has little if any punching power. Her lone stoppage win was secured against Teresa Cuevas (TKO-1) who was in her professional début. Overall Avila is a B-level fighter and would be an excellent prospect, but as a champion, she’s like the weak link in the division.
Maureen Shea, 34, was born in Bronx, New York, turning professional in 2005. She served as a sparring partner for actress Hilary Swank in the 2004 movie, Million Dollar Baby. The film won four Academy Awards including Swank for “Best Actress.”
She previously held the NABF and interim WBC World female featherweight titles. Neither title was defended which was followed by eighteen months of inactivity (12-2011~5-2013). A July 2014 technical knockout of trial horse Angel Gladney (TKO-4) represents her last bout. Shea scaled the lightest of her career for that bout (121 ¾).
In the ring, Shea experienced hard luck in 2009 losing to Kina Malpartida (15-3, 4 KOs) and Lindsay Garbatt (8-7-2, 3 KOs). The Malpartida loss was at Madison Square Garden with the WBA World female super-featherweight title on the line. Garbatt was an A-level fighter and performed better than her near .500 record would otherwise indicate. Shea’s most impressive victory is a 2007 six-round unanimous decision win over Oliva Gerula (16-14-2, 3 KOs). Gerula is a former WBC World female super-featherweight champion and holds wins over Myriam Chomaz, Jelena Mrdjenovich, and Kaliesha West.
Like Avila, Shea fights out of the orthodox stance and is a boxer/puncher. Shea has excellent boxing skills from medium and long-range and an underrated left hook. She has difficulty handling pressure fighters originally losing to a (2-10) brawler named Kim Colbert. The split-decision loss was eventually overturned when Colbert failed a post-fight drug test.
Avila is a case of too much too soon. With more seasoning, she will be an exceptional champion and worthy of the lofty position. Styles make fights, Avila does not possess the aggression level necessary to affect Shea and will be reduced to trying to fight the more experienced fighter’s fight.
Prediction: Look for Shea to win the IBF World female super-bantamweight title by a unanimous decision winning six or seven of the ten rounds in the process.
Result: Split-Draw 97-93 Luna 98-92 Shea 95-95 Even; Luna retains the IBF World female super-bantamweight title.
Promoter: Sugar Shane Mosley Promotions
Punch Volume: Shea
Intangibles: Shea (Fight Location)
Record against A-Level Fighters: