Two Australian female boxers will create history when they clash on June 30 for the vacant Martial Arts Sports Association [MASA] bantamweight boxing crown of Australasia under three-minute round rules.
Mai Soliman from NSW will fight the current No.1 ranked Nicila Costello of Queensland after the pair won a long-term battle outside the ring with the NSW MASA authorities to have the bout contested under three minute rounds.
Championship fights in women’s boxing typically consist of two-minute rounds, as opposed to the standard three-minute rounds in men’s boxing.
This discrepancy has sparked debates among fighters, promoters, medical professionals, and commissions.
Soliman and Costello will become the first women boxers to contest three-minute rounds when they create history at the famed Revesby Workers venue with Neutral Corner Promotions [NCP] putting on the card.
Sydney fighter Mai Soliman (pictured) is pioneering the way for first ever three-minute bout in Australia which may change global rules
Queensland champion and mother of a two-year-old, Nicila Costello supports her rival in wanting the rules changed and will be a worthy opponent for Soliman
Women fights in MMA and the UFC have been allowed to compete over three-minute rounds but until now, boxing has outlawed it
‘And who knows, we are hoping this changes the face of women’s boxing all over the world,’ fight promoter NCP boss Paul Nasari told Daily Mail Australia.
‘All the girls want it but most boxing officials here and abroad are all stuck in their old ways and just will not look at change claiming the protection of women’s health is the reason.
‘But, the reality is because they fight two minute rounds they have to go faster and harder to get into the round and there is an argument that hurts more,’ he said.
Nasari, himself a former Australian-ranked fighter who sparred with Jeff Fenech and the great Kostya Tszyu, believes this historic match up is a lot like the eternal battle for five-set Grand Slam women’s tennis matches.
Nasari and Soliman initially applied to the World Boxing Council [WBC] for an Australasian Title bout and while it looked good for a while, the old guard stepped in late claiming three minute rounds are too dangerous for women.
‘Which is kinda ridiculous because men fight three minute rounds and this is something all the women boxers want to try,’ Costello said.
‘Why are the girls getting short-changed?’
Nicola got caught stealing a bottle of peach schnapps from behind the bar last night hahahaha
— Liam (@Liam_costello_) July 22, 2017
Costello, who owns an F45 Gym in Brisbane is understandably excited about being part of history and at the same time fighting for a belt.
‘At first I tried to stay out of it when there was so much opposition by some authorities to what Mai was attempting getting three minute rounds,’ she said.
‘But as I trained specifically for the extra time, and started to realise just how significant this could become for female boxing, I became an absolute convert.
‘There is no doubt that this bout could become a contributing factor to a boxing paradigm shift over the world.
In the other corner, Soliman, 25, pointed out that in the MMA world title fights for women, those bouts are five times five minute rounds.
‘Why should boxing be different?’ she asked.
‘It just makes no sense when you consider the girls who fight in Australia want three minute rounds. And it is no more dangerous for women as it is for men. They can get just as hurt.
‘Another thing too, this doesn’t mean we are any more aggressive. Many people think just because we fight inside the ring and want this to be a matter of equality with the men, that we also have to be aggressive looking.
‘We don’t and I’m completely the opposite. I’m married and I like the feminine look.’
Nicila Costello (pictured) agreed to the historic fight and her entire training schedule has changed
Costello wants to raise the profile of women’s boxing and legitimise the sport without resorting to gimmicks like other fighters
Costello, the more experienced of the pair and who is a mother, shares with her opponent the need to be united on the front of equality and change within the sport.
‘I look at the great Irish fighter Katie Taylor who was the one who turned the Olympic movement around allowing females to box there. All her life growing up she had to fight and she had to disguise herself as a guy just to be accepted.
‘Which is ridiculous. This historic fight has a great opportunity to expose the sport to a greater audience and our main argument, apart from equality was, if both fighters want it, their training camps want it, why not just allow us?’
It took a lot of closed doors in their face, but NSW has allowed the change to take place. The fight isn’t slated as the main event on the big June 30 card but it will no doubt have the most eyes from around the world on it.
‘I know that because we have been given this rare opportunity that we need to put on a great fight and I know I will,’ Soliman said.
‘I want us to make our mark for the sport across the world with this bout because we are athletes and battling away for three minute rounds like the men do.
‘It’s unique and we don’t just want to be a sport that gets great publicity because we turn up at press conferences with painted on tops, or showing a lot of skin.
‘This change we are being part of is how we legitimise female boxing by being good athletes and I know this 100 per cent will be our biggest pay day.’
Soliman was addressing the ensemble [or lack thereof] worn by boxing social media superstar Ebanie Bridges at her weigh ins and last week’s astonishing painted on bra stunt pulled by fellow Aussie Cherneka Johnson.
Irish boxer Katie Taylor was behind the push to allow women fighters to be able to compete at the Olympic Games
Aussie Ebanie Bridges is just as well-known for baring her flesh as she is for her boxing career
Cherneka Johnson (finger raised) turned up at her recent weigh in wearing a painted on bra
‘I was shocked, I really was. Especially as it was a world title fight. I’m hoping our three minutes rounds can change all that so that women don’t need to turn up and be like that at weigh ins anymore,’ Soliman said.
While that weigh in was met with derision from Soliman, her weigh in with Costello on 29 June will be different.
‘Creating history with our fight is a great moment for female boxing and we will be working on increasing pay for female fighters now because of it.
‘Right now we all have second jobs just to be able to sustain our training,’ added Soliman.
Seven bouts are scheduled for competition at Revesby Workers and it is hoped legendary callers Jon Harker and Barry Michael will do the honours ring side.
‘I’ve asked them to come,’ said promoter Nasari.