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Jeannine Garside The Future of Women’s’ Boxing!
By JAKE DONOVAN, FightBeat.com President
“This one is going to change women’s boxing as we know it. She’s different from the rest, I swear. This one can fight; she’s not just looking to make a quick buck.” Up-to-here with this hype about women’s boxing? Ever since Christy Martin was on the cover of Sports Illustrated nearly ten years ago, female boxers have come and gone… all: the next big thing! When I was asked to view a tape of Jeannine Garside, a Canadian super bantamweight, I was more than skeptical. But because the request was from “A Ring of their Own” publicist Amy Green (a near-and-dear friend of the FightBeat.com family), I decided to see what she was buzzing about.
Thanks to Amy, I saw the future of women’s boxing. It’s in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Jeannine Garside is not your average rookie. Most female boxers four bouts into the pros are still learning how to fight. Jeannine’s already a world champion, soundly defeating Lisa Brown (12-2-2, 4KO) this past November in Edmonton. It earned her “Fighter of the Month” on the all-women’s boxing site, WBAN.org. Early success hasn’t spoiled the 27-year-old Canadian. She’s humbled by the win and the attention.
“Without a doubt, it was the best moment of my life,” Garside said of her ten-round decision over Brown. “When I first started boxing, I made a wish to become female champion of the world. I kept that goal for nine years. To achieve that so early in my pro career, it meant everything to me.” Nine years? And only one as a pro? Normally, the ratio’s the opposite with female fighters. The usual scenario’s: a tough-woman competition or two… perhaps a brief stint in the amateurs.
This wasn’t “brief.” Garside did it right; she chose the hard road: to hone her craft with Margaret Sidiroff — former undefeated three-weight-class champion — and husband Josh Canty at the Border City Boxing Club in Windsor, amassing an impressive 40-5 record, over eight years, including four Canadian national titles, despite a torn a ACL from flag football five years ago.
She wears a brace, but it doesn’t slow her. It’s given her the grit and ring savvy to tackle any pro opponent.
Garside put a fine point on it: “One thing that Lisa had said to me that I wanted to prove wrong, was that I wasn’t in her class. But the experience I had as an amateur makes up for it. People said that Lisa and I looked at the same level. I had to take this step because I knew it’d be difficult to find opponents at my record level.”
Garside’s already drawn favorable comparisons to Sidiroff. She considers it the highest compliment: “I’ve made it no secret that I plan on following in Margaret’s footsteps. “Team Garside hasn’t matched her with pushovers. Tune-ups are for her car. All four opponents had a combined record of 25-5-2. A gimme-fight for her first defence would be understandable…Not For Jeannine!
“My extensive amateur background made it difficult to get fights in the beginning, so I don’t expect things to get any easier,” she said. “I know that I can’t face other females with only four or five fights; I expect (the competition) to get more difficult. I see that most of my fights are going to be as challenging or more…”
Like coach Sidiroff, Jeannine covets belts north of bantam — with the bigger purses — but not in the immediate future. She’s content to defend at 122. “It’s the division where I was fortunate enough to get a shot in,” she reminds. Josh and Margaret would like to see me drop a little more, but we’ll address that in the near future.”
When she was in camp, “(Margaret’s) two kids were in there watching me sweat off the last few pounds for my last fight. Our club is unique… we have a nursery section.” Jeannine turned pro a year ago, pitching a shutout over previously unbeaten Heather Percival in Tacoma, Washington. She was idled for eight months, unable to find opponents with similar experience. The first indication of her power was against Rita Serrano in Texas, knocking her down in the first round en route to a lopsided decision. She than joined-up with Rock and Sock Productions, looking for stiffer tests. The promotional outfit’s the only one presently involved in all-female shows, a series known as “A Ring of Their Own.”
Jeannine’s debut with AROTO was a show-stealer in a six-round co-feature against Rita Valentini in Laughlin, Nevada. Garside exploded after four rounds of boxing, dropping and stopping Valentini in the fifth — the first – and to date, only – stoppage of her career. Garside credits the achievement to NOT looking for the knockout, instead, breaking her opponent down.
“The worst mistake I make is LOOKING for a knockout. In a six-round fight, I have to plan for six rounds. If you get the knockdown/knockout, it’s even better. I never underestimate my opponent, even if I know that they don’t have the experience I have. It’s about breaking your opponent down. I know that I have that power, but I don’t rely on it. What I have to focus on is my combinations, hand speed, foot movement – the stuff that wins.”
She used them all against WIBA Super Bantamweight Champion Lisa Brown — determined to make a statement.
She had plenty of motivation: It was her Canadian debut. It was televised. Family and friends were watching. That — more than the win — made the outcome so memorable.
“There were so many people believing in me, Garside enthused, “it was amazing. I COULD FEEL THE LOVE. I look forward to winning more titles, but I can’t see any experience being the same.”Garside jumped on the more-experienced Brown from the opening bell. Her effective aggression led to the bout’s lone knockdown in the third round…a moment that stunned everyone in the arena – including Garside “One thing I regret – I don’t know if I showed enough respect afterward. I was so wrapped-up in what I had to do…with the disrespect she showed me beforehand… I surprised myself after the knockdown! It kind of let her know that the junk she was talking before the fight only motivated me more… “ Nothing matches a hometown crowd, but she’s comfortable as a road warrior: “I’ve never been the favourite, or the hometown girl. But once they see the fight, they make me feel at home. There’s more out there for me now that I’m at this level. I hope everyone wants a piece of me.”
She also wants to set an example for female boxers: “I always knew that if I worked hard, I can reach my goals. I hope I can be an inspiration to others – if you set your sights on your goals, you’ll get to where you want to be. And you’ll do so on your terms, not anyone else’s.”
Call it a walk on the Garside.
It is then important to discuss your wishes with your family.