Shortly after going 10 tough but promising rounds with Ikram Kerwat at Casino Del Sol on Thursday night, Simone Da Silva hugged her manager and then fell to her knees in exhaustion, elation and, well, prayer.
“I went (to the knees) to thank God because without him you have nothing,” she said.
Clearly, the boxing gods were with her at AVA Amphitheatre in front of an estimated 1,500 fight fans given that a couple of minutes later the judges announced what most at the event suspected: she had defeated the champion Ikram Kerwat in unanimous fashion to win the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) female super featherweight title.
“I knew I had won,” she said, when asked if she was surprised.
And, no, even though she had a meager 15-12 going in, she said she wasn’t discouraged, given championship bouts are littered with opponents who are perceived to be not good enough. The cagey 35-year-old Brazilian was good enough.
“I came here to win,” she said, in Portuguese her native language and through her interpreter/manager Fabiano Pena.
From the opening bell, it appeared she had a chance, driving Kerwat back numerous times even after it seemed the champion had found her footing and timing. Still, Da Silva boxed on. She grinded and grinded and grinded. In fact, she dominated and surprising outclassed the champion, who said in her post fight interview she just wasn’t ready and just didn’t have it on a big night.
“I saw from the first round that she had nothing,” Da Silva said.
For Da Silva, it was jab, jab move. Jab, jab move. And, yes, she got hit a few times, but she clearly gave more than she received.
What it did was stop a two-fight losing streak and got her a win after losing eight of her last nine. How could she have pulled off the upset, particularly over Kerwat, who went into the bout 9-1 and under the guidance of matchmaker/promoter Roy Jones, Jr.? Well, she hadn’t boxed much in the last two years, instead coming to the United States to train in Florida. Pena said she hadn’t fought in two years, although Boxrec.com listed a loss last year.
“A lot of people in Brazil don’t have good boxing (skills),” Pena said. “America has good box. It has good sparring and good coaches. She’s worked hard.”
She said she’s better because she’s technical about boxing and her technique is better. She moves better. All the training she had put into the fight – and with new guidance – found the right recipe for victory.
“I’m very proud of her,” Pena said. “Coming from Brazil, it’s not about boxing.”
Instead, it’s about mixed martial arts. And, well she does that too with a scheduled bout coming in August. She’s 8-1 in the sport. In fact, had she lost to Kerwat on Thursday it was likely her boxing career would have been over and her MMA career a fledgling one.
“Her life is boxing and the fight,” Pena said. “It never stops. Sometimes it’s a fight every month.”
She’s scheduled to box again in September.
“Whatever the next opportunity is,” she said.
In the locker room, Da Silva looked she had more rounds left in her, taking the win in stride.
“No, she’s happy,” he said, when asked if she’s happy. “Her face is just (serious).”