Clear Skye: Having kissed goodbye to the amateurs for good, Skye Nicolson is ready to reintroduce herself on the pro stage

THE reaction from Skye Nicolson wasn’t surprising: mild frustration yet retaining a high level of courtesy and professionalism, enough to give her opinion. Female fighters have rightly grown tired of talking about the matter, but Amanda Serrano’s recent efforts have made it a relevant talking point once again. Naturally, then, two thirds of the way through Boxing News’ interview with Nicolson, the debate that won’t go away was brought into the conversation: two-minute or three-minute rounds for women’s boxing.

The female code has flourished in recent years and the Chantelle Cameron-Katie Taylor rematch on November 25 in Dublin holds its own in the company of other upcoming big fights; male or female. The main event in Dublin will be fought over 10 two-minute rounds – just like every other championship fight in the last 16 years – and this despite the fact Amanda Serrano, a campaigner for three not two, will on October 27 fight Danila Ramos over 12 three-minute rounds. (The first time since 2007, when Layla McCarter defeated Donna Biggers and Melissa Hernandez in bouts scheduled for 12x3s.)

Thirty-four-year-old Serrano, the best female featherweight in the world, is a strong advocate for women getting the full 36 minutes. She also remains very much in the sights of Skye Nicolson, 7-0 (0), who takes to the ring later tonight (September 15) against Sabrina Maribel Perez, 18-1-1 (2), in Mexico. While Nicolson has been and continues to be an admirer of Serrano, she doesn’t share her belief that women should fight in three-minute rounds.

“People are feeling like they need to ‘fight for equality’ or whatever they think it is,” said Nicolson, who spoke to BN from a hotel room in Tijuana on Wednesday (September 13). “Men and women are different. There’s no point trying to make us the same; we’re not the same. I saw the WBC’s argument about it… about female tennis players and female basketball players.” On September 6 WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman wrote on Twitter: “Tennis – women play 3 sets, basketball the basket is shorter and the ball smaller and those are not contact sports. We stand by safety and well-being of the fighters.” This means that Serrano will not be allowed to defend her WBC title against Ramos but will be able to put her other three championships on the line. Writer’s note: Basketball hoops in the NBA and WNBA both stand at 10 feet tall.

“Men and women are not the same,” Nicolson reiterated. “You don’t need to prove a point. I disagree with it.” She then added: “Three-minute rounds suit my style. It’s a nice pace for me. I don’t mind it. I’m fit and I can box and box and box forever. It’s not [about] that. It’s almost like this hero mentality is kind of what I’m seeing. I find it a bit unnecessary. Also, the reason I think that the ten-twos are in place has actually been backed up by science and I think they should probably be considering that as well, especially people who have had lots of wars, and [they] should think about their health and physical well-being as well.

“If I get told the rules have changed and you’re fighting ten-threes or twelve-threes happy days, okay. If that’s the rule, that’s the rule. But for me I feel like at the moment it’s just like people going a bit rogue and kind of trying to run boxing and do what they want to do instead of just following protocol. That’s my take on it.”

Nicolson works the pads (Melina Pizano/Matchroom) A win against Perez tonight on Matchroom’s latest Mexican show will place Nicolson near the front of challengers looking to get their shot against Serrano who holds all the aces at 126lbs. Winning the WBC Interim trinket obviously isn’t the one Nicolson really wants but it may help justify her decision to turn down the opportunity to try and qualify for next year’s Olympic Games in Paris. The 28-year-old has been walking around with a dilemma running through her head for some time now and believes it has affected her commitment to the pro ranks.

Beating Perez, however, could see Amanda Serrano vs. Skye Nicolson up in lights somewhere around the world prior to the summer Olympics.

“It actually ended up being a pretty easy decision for me,” she explains. “I had already started to let go of that dream as I started to progress through my pro career and as the qualification process started drawing nearer. I had the national team from back home in Australia reaching out to me about coming back and doing the qualifying process and it was almost like I was convincing myself I wanted to go and do it rather than me actually wanting to go and do it.

“I trained with the Irish national team in Dublin – sparring with all the girls – and then I went over to Italy and met the Australian team at a multi-nations training camp that I did with about 10 other countries; training and sparring with all of those teams. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed being back in the team environment; I enjoyed the training camp. At the end of the day boxing’s boxing and I love boxing and [being] surrounded by athletes who are driven and motivated and they’ve all got this big end goal, but it just wasn’t the same anymore.

“I didn’t have that same excitement, that same drive, and that feeling that I had in the past around the Olympic Games. I went back to the UK and started training back in the iBox gym and still felt really unsure, still kind of saying, ‘Yeah, I’ll go do it.’ There was just something in the back of my mind telling me that this isn’t what you want to do.

“I was staying up late on a Saturday night watching a Matchroom USA show; it was like 2am. I was getting so excited, and I was watching the fighters walk out, watching them win, watching them dig deep in those late rounds and I was like, ‘This is what gets me excited! This is what I want to do!’ I literally texted my manager, my coach, everyone at 2am I was like, ‘I’m not going back, I’m not doing it, let’s lock in a fight, I’m ready, I want to get straight back into my pro career.’ That was it. I was done. There was no looking back after that. I messaged the Board of Boxing in Australia and said I won’t be coming and competing in the trial events and that was me done. I was set.”

The decision removed a heavy weight from her shoulders, and following it came a change in her approach to training, which ultimately led to Nicolson bringing in a new strength and conditioning coach. Now she is convinced no-one has seen the best of her yet in her time as a professional and has hinted, too, her performance against Perez will prove to be a turning point in her career.

“I think I came into the pro game, I guess, very naïve,” said the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist. “I was so like in the amateur system, the pro boxing stuff was never on my radar. I’ve learned a lot, I’ve developed a lot, I’ve changed my style a lot. I think we’re going to see a performance that’s unlike any of the other seven fights.

“In my first year as a pro in the back of my mind I was always going back to the amateurs. I was always still going to go and try and qualify for the Paris Olympics. This camp, though, has been a 100 per cent sole focus on my professional career and being a professional world champion. That’s probably been the biggest change of this camp. I think in all of my other camps you haven’t seen me give all of myself because I still had in the back of my mind this uncertainty about what I was going to do. When I went into this one, I was 100 per cent decided. I’ve left that dream, I’ve put it to bed, I’m done with the Olympics. I’m very, very focused on what I want to achieve as a professional. My team have seen the change in me this camp…

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