WBC light flyweight champion Kim Clavel (16-0) faces WBA champion Jessica Nery Plata (28-2) Friday night (Jan 13) in a unification bout live from the Place Bell in Lava, Canada.
Normally boxing is pretty depressing. The fights are good, mostly, the fighters themselves have interesting stories, and when something of a social means happens in the sport, we typically get a somewhat crappy lack of empathy from a vocal group of fans that somewhat exemplify why we are a fringe sport.
In 2023, boxing is now vying for shares of the sporting landscape next to the UFC, NHL, NASCAR, and MLB. If you love each individual sport, sure, they feature great and compelling figures, some with large followings, but no one in these sports compares to LeBron James, and no one compares to Tom Brady. We don’t have figures who people follow in People magazine and want to just see how they exist. If we do, it seems we have about four of them, Canelo Alvarez, Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury, and Gervonta Davis.
Boxing is trying to embrace digital means and really, technology in general. It is trying to embrace equitable treatment of women and, in some instances, even speak on issues of inequality.
Still, being an “old-school sport,” we sometimes look somewhat silly when we approach these subjects. I am turning into a stick-to-the-sport type of guy right now since the outside view of the sport isn’t bleak, but it isn’t memorable either. The social elements of boxing make me want to be less social, so I am removing myself from social equations in 2023.
We now live in a world where media outlets will cater to profitable fighters to get exclusive content from that fighter just to line their pockets with dough. Hence why boxing isn’t a business; it is politics because that seemingly is what happens at the highest form of government, or at least that is my perception from the outside looking in.
Meet Kim Clavel (16-0), someone I have never talked to, interviewed or watched all that closely.
At five feet, one inch tall, the fighter who weighs in the day before a fight at 108 lbs. is becoming one of the most compelling stories that we haven’t heard over and over again, or at least I missed it if we have.
Clavel, the current WBC light flyweight champion, achieved her lifelong goal in her last fight defeating Yesenia Gomez in July of last year for the title. Now she will fight in essentially her hometown as her bout Friday night on ESPN+, will take place in Laval, Quebec, Canada, a mere 35 minutes from her hometown Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Her opponent is no pushover either. Jessica Nery Plata, the current WBA junior flyweight world champion, just beat a legend in the sport in Yessica Bopp and now looks to pull off another big victory.
So what makes Clavel stand out amongst her peers is her heart; it is her kindness, it is the empathy, and selflessness that she shows. In 2020, she seemed to be at a crossroads in her career; nearing one of those milestone ages that people dread—30–she saw her friends building families and her chasing dreams.
Not unlike many dream chasers, Clavel looked to balance her dream with a job, meaning she was working double-time. Clavel worked in maternity wards in her hometown of Montreal, Canada, and then would train after as her “hobby” of boxing became her obsession.
Turning pro in 2017 and fighting exclusively in the Montreal area, she was built up until 2019 when she won the vacant NABF light flyweight title, which felt like one step away from a world title, especially in a somewhat shallow division of 108 lbs. That same year, 2019, Clavel had taken a one-year sabbatical from work to chase her dream to the fullest potential. She was very respectable as Clavel tried to get the most out of her career.
Then the world stop. COVID-19 hit. At first, it felt like an inconvenience, but it became a tragedy, both tearing apart families, robbing us of our loved ones, and now putting an economic burden on all of us. I know firsthand as I lost my friend Cynthia Saldana to this awful virus.
Despite working so hard for her dream, sacrificing finical freedoms, and fights kept getting canceled, including her own, Clavel dared to be great in my eyes.
She did the human being thing, and not what I consider the typical pro athlete thing; she returned to the workforce as she looked to help patients suffering from COVID-19.
It sort of reminds me of when I talked to Jamel Herring once, and he told me he enlisted in the Marines because of the tragedy of September 11th.
Clavel returned to being a nurse to help others in a time of distress, aiming to be with older people who might be all alone. Forbes Magazine did a story on Clavel stating that she would often encounter 30 patients a day with this illness we knew so little about at the time. Armed with a good heart and wanting to be there for people, Clavel exemplified the courage we often look for in our pro athletes but seemingly rarely get nowadays.
Clavel lead by example, while many people lead by chasing the most finical fruitful opportunity. She stood up when people were scared to take a stand out of fear. History needs to remember this fondly.“When you help someone, you forget about yourself,” said Clavel when speaking to Time Magazine in 2020. “I was really sad when my fight was canceled, but I saw on TV everywhere they needed help. I am the kind of person who can’t stay home when I can do something. So I sent my CV everywhere.”
It didn’t take long for her to get to work as Clavel served as a frontline nurse for one of the worst pandemics we have ever seen.
“The hardest part is not the people who die. The hardest part for me is people who live in that condition … the people who are alone and maybe [have] one year, two years, six months to live and live alone. That is the hardest part. To see people looking outside a window and waiting. To see people just sitting in a chair,” said Clavel to ESPN after winning the Pat Tillman Award for service.
“Sometimes, I ask myself about what they think in their head. To see them alone makes me really, really sad. I love to go into the room, put on some music and talk to them. I put on the TV, and we talk about memories, and I ask about the name of their child. This is the hardest part for me — to see them alone, waiting for nothing.”
Canada would flatten the curve in June, and Clavel would waste no time returning to the ring in July 2020. Clavel’s fight was in Las Vegas, Nevada, as she did battle in the Top Rank bubble at the MGM Grand.
Clavel is a true fighter; she is fighting for others and for her respect, sadly, in the male-dominated sport of boxing. Often, boxing gets depressed because of the greed in the unregulated form of capitalism that is the sport I love, but stories like Kim Clavel give me hope. Maybe, just maybe, we can see better days.
The elephant in the room. Seniesa Estrada nor Yokasta Valle are currently active in her weight class, as Valle recently vacated the 108 lbs title she won. Those big fights seemingly loom bright for Clavel if she can continue to win.
Clavel is compelling and was even featured as a cast member of a TV show I have proudly never watched called “Big Brother Celebrities.” If she gets a chance to be in front of a lot of media and has attention put on her, watch her shine like the star she is. Now we just have to answer the question we never addressed in this article….?
The million-dollar question. How far can her talent take her? I don’t have the answer, and I am willing to let her write her destiny instead of forecasting it.
KIM CLAVEL VS. JESSICA NERY PLATA BETTING ODDS
Per DraftKings, Kim Clavel is the favorite at -1000, and Jessica Nery Plata is the underdog at +550.
Kim Clavel: Decision -500; KO/TKO +650
Jessica Nery Plata: Decision +700; KO/TKO +2500
KIM CLAVEL VS. JESSICA NERY PLATA FIGHT DATE, START TIME
- Date: Friday, January 13
- Main card: 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT
- Main event ringwalks (approx): 10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT
These timings could change due to the length of the undercard fights.
WHAT CHANNEL/STREAM IS KIM CLAVEL VS. JESSICA NERY PLATA?
- US: ESPN+
KIM CLAVEL VS. JESSICA NERY PLATA FIGHT CARD
- Mazlum Akdeniz (17-0, 8 KOs) will defend his WBC Continental Americas 140-pound belt against Mexican veteran Cristian Bielma (19-4-2, 7 KOs) in a 10-rounder.
- Welterweight prospect Marie Pier Houle (7-0-1, 2 KOs) looks to extend her winning streak to six against Marisol Moreno (6-3) in an eight-rounder.
- Former Canadian amateur standout Eric Basran (2-0, 1 KO) will take on Juan Carlos Ramirez Garcia (4-2) in a six-round lightweight tilt.
- Featherweight prospect Caroline Veyre (1-0), who represented Canada at the Tokyo Olympics, makes her second professional appearance against Estefania Gonzalez Franco in a six-rounder.