Natasha “The Nightmare” Spence hits the road for Lopes rematch
By: GM Ross
Natasha Spence (8-3-2, 6 KOs) of Mississauga is eager to strike while the iron’s hot. Female champions Claressa Shields and Cecelia Braekhus are smashing barriers on Showtime and HBO, respectively, creating unprecedented demand for women’s boxing. The female fight game is more lucrative than ever. For a select few in the upper echelon of women’s boxing, the dream of fighting full-time is finally becoming a reality.
For Spence, the quest for those much coveted premium cable paydays begins this Friday, May 11, against Aleksandra Magdziak Lopes (18-4-3, 1KOs) at the Twin River Event Centre in Lincoln, Rhode Island. The fight is a rematch of last December’s hotly contested majority draw.
“Right now right now is definitely the best time for women and girls to come up in the sport,” said Spence. “Fortunately women’s boxing is finally starting to get more recognition and coverage. It still has a long way to go, but we’re headed in the right direction. All I can say is believe in your dreams and never ever quit, no matter how unfair or hard it seems.”
Indeed, Spence has persevered through odds that at times must have felt overwhelming. In her home province of Ontario, there have been just four professional women’s boxing matches in 2017 and 2018, combined, forcing fighters like Spence to fight elsewhere.
“I'm not exactly sure what the problem is,” said Spence. “I've been trying to get on a local fight card for years and it just never seems to happen. I've become a road warrior. I go wherever the fight takes me! That being said, it would be really nice to fight close to home again, in front of all my fans, family, and friends.”
Spence’s rematch with Lopes marks her seventh consecutive fight on the road. Her last fight in Ontario was back in 2012, when she blasted out Alexandria Gorog in Guelph, battering her Hungarian opponent with a barrage of power shots to score a TKO1 victory.
To find fights on the road, Spence often faces the best of the best, on their terms. In 2013, she weighed in at 130lbs, the super featherweight limit, conceding a six pound advantage to Melissa St. Vil (10-3-4, 1 KO) in a lightweight bout. Spence lost a close eight round majority decision, but established herself as one of the most tenacious female boxers in North America, earning a crack at fast-rising prospect Ronica Jeffrey (15-1-0, 1KOs) for the vacant interim WIBA super featherweight championship two months later. It wasn’t the Canadian’s night. After eight rounds of boxing, Jeffrey was declared the winner via unanimous decision, 80-72, 79-73, 79-73.
After some time away from the ring, Spence returned as a super lightweight in 2015, earning two wins and the World Boxing Foundation title before accepting a huge fight with unified WBO/WBA super welterweight champion Hanna Gabriels (18-1-1, 11KOs) of Costa Rica. The fight was slated for San Jose, the Costa Rican capital, and required Spence to jump up fifteen pounds in weight. Although far from ideal, Spence accepts that, for her, fighting in the opposition’s hometown and across weight classes is part of the sport. “I made a choice years ago. That I wouldn't let it hold me back. I'm a warrior, so I go where I have to and fight whoever I have to.”
Spence lasted the full ten rounds with the naturally larger Gabriels, pushing the pace at times, but losing a unanimous decision.
Although Spence maintains she won the first fight with Lopes, she admits it wasn’t her best performance.
“I went to her hometown and got a majority ‘draw.’ The judge that didn’t score it a draw had me winning by two points, in Lopes’ hometown. With that said, I admit I could have done a lot more. I'm a bit disappointed in that. I know that I underperformed that night and that I'm capable of shutting Lopes out. Obviously that’s what needs to happen this time around for me to come home with the win! I can promise one thing, this fight is going to look a lot different than the first one. I've made some drastic changes this camp and have done everything in my power to ensure a solid performance on May 11.”