Melissa McMorrow to defend flyweight strap in Tijuana

Reigning women’s flyweight champion Melissa McMorrow is heading off to Tijuana, Mexico next week to make the first defense of her newly-won championship.

McMorrow – the newly-crowned WBO world champion – is scheduled to defend her title against Maribel Ramirez (9-8-2, 3 KOs) of Mexico City on Oct. 10.

The fight will mark the fifth time in more than three years that the 34-year-old San Franciscan has fought in Mexico.

Known for fighting abroad, McMorrow is accustomed to traveling since she has done plenty of it throughout her life, especially with her family hailing from Brazil.

McMorrow told SFBay she is excited to fight again in Mexico and loves fighting abroad because of the thrill of travel:

“When I go to other countries, it doesn’t feel that foreign to me. I think that maybe that’s why some people don’t like fighting somewhere else. I don’t really know what it is. But to me, I feel the same at home as I do somewhere else. I kind of like to be the underdog, it’s motivating to me. I don’t mind if when I walk in the stadium everyone’s booing me.”

McMorrow said her training camp has been going really good so far as she has gotten in strong sparring sessions against members of her Beautiful Brawlers family.

She continued training camp on Sunday at Pacifica’s Baby Face Boxing gym, which hosted a special media day in honor of her bout against Ramirez.

The event featured sparring sessions showcasing some talented young amateur fighters – male and female – from throughout the Bay Area and Northern California.

McMorrow (10-5-3, 1 KO) sparred against Iris Contreras, Tatiana Almaraz and Sandra Magallon – all of whom she acknowledged for what they brought stylistically into the ring.

Though she couldn’t decide on which fighter she believed was her toughest sparring partner, she acknowledged 21-year-old Contreras for having a style very similar to Ramirez.

But Blanca Gutierrez – McMorrow’s friend and founder and owner of the Baby Face gym – said Beautiful Brawlers champ Almaraz was McMorrow’s toughest sparring partner because of how well-versed Almaraz is in boxing.

Gutierrez also acknowledged the hard work McMorrow has been putting in not only at her gym but under the tutelage of Eddie Croft as well:

“She doesn’t work on things that she doesn’t need to work on. She always does a good job. We work. All of us work and she puts in many hours in the gym. She knows that when she has to fight, she works hard. So I never have a doubt in her training, and Eddie is a great coach.”

Gutierrez and McMorrow have known each other for almost 10 years and even sparred together prior to McMorrow’s professional debut in 2008.

Gutierrez took time during media day to acknowledge McMorrow for everything she has contributed to the Beautiful Brawlers.

She also acknowledged McMorrow as a great role model for any boxer – male or female:

“She never gives up. She fights anybody who gets in the ring. She doesn’t just do four rounds, she’ll go 10 to 12 rounds. That shows the girls that you can be cute, you can have a great career. She’s smart, she’s a great person, and she can fight.”

McMorrow seized the WBO women’s flyweight title from rising Mexican star Kenia Enriquez in Enriquez’ birth place of Baja California earlier in February.

Though she walked away with a split decision victory, McMorrow felt she didn’t deliver one of her best performances because of certain mistakes she made.

McMorrow said she is working on correcting her fighting stance in order to leverage her power in preparation for the Ramirez fight.

By defeating Enriquez, McMorrow became a two-time WBO flyweight champ – even though she was never decisively beaten for the title during her inaugural reign.

McMorrow – who has also held the Women’s International Boxing Federation (WIBF) flyweight championship – originally defeated previously unbeaten Susi Kentikian of Germany via majority decision to claim the WBO title in May 2012.

McMorrow successfully defended her title against Yahaira Martinez and Nadia Raoui before going practically a year without fighting due to promotional issues.

She decided to split from her previous promoter because of such inactivity – which caused the WBO to strip her of the title last February.

She considers her title victory over Kentikian the more significant of the two – especially when considering that Kentikian entered that fight with a record of 29-0 compared to McMorrow’s record of 6-3-3 at that time.

But she also considers the Enriquez victory vindication for the hardships she’s endured throughout her professional career:

“I feel like compared to most people, I’ve had a hard road because a lot of the girls have promoters that can pick people to fight against and they pick a bunch of bad people and they have these great records because they can kind of cater their career. I really haven’t had that luxury. So I feel like to win the title back has been vindicating and shows people that I really do deserve it.”