Han Dominates Joseph, wins IBF female belt

September 21, 2015

By David Finger at ringside

It was a long time coming for the city of El Paso, but she now has a world champion. There is arguably no better boxing town in America than the Sun City, but until last night at the Don Haskins Center, boxing fans from the border town never witnesses a local fighter win a major world title. There were many who came close. David Rodriguez seemed like he had the potential to end the drought when he built up his record to 36-0. But his career fell short after a pair of upset knockout losses derailed his title dreams. Antonio Escalante looked like he might pull it off after winning the NABO super bantamweight title in 2008, rocketing him into the WBO world rankings. But after an impressive decision over Mickey Roman in 2010 the dream came to an end for Escalante when he was defeated by Daniel Ponce De Leon in a WBO featherweight title eliminator. And prior to last night Juan Lazcano was the man who came the closest, having won the fringe IBA lightweight title in the same arena back in 2003 before he defeated Stevie Johnson in a WBC lightweight title eliminator. But Lazcano came up short the following year in his quest for a WBC title when he lost a close decision to Jose Luis Castillo.

But in front of an excited local crowd, the drought ended as Jennifer Han put forth the best performance of her career, dominating Nigerian Helen Joseph over ten rounds. There was no question going into the fight that this would be a classic boxer-puncher matchup. Han, having only scored one knockout in sixteen fights, was seen as a slick boxer who used speed and boxing to befuddle her opponents. Although little was known of Joseph here in the United States, what was known was that she was a head hitter, having pulled together a handful of impressive knockouts, including a first round knockout over Marianna Ulyas in her last fight for the IBF intercontinental female featherweight title.

But from the opening round Han was determined not to let Helen Joseph show the Sun City how much she packed in her punches, boxing effectively from the outside and quickly establishing her advantage in speed and skill. Han moved around the ring well, peppering the aggressive Joseph with jabs. On several occasions Joseph was able to cut the ring and land a few of her thudding shots, but by in large they had little impact on Han, who either smothered the punches or covered up. Jennifer Han then closed the round with a beautiful flurry to put an exclamation point on the round.

Han continued to dominate the second round behind her footwork and jab, but disaster nearly struck in round three. Midway through the round a short counter sent Han to the canvas. Although Han argued it was the result of a slip, referee Daniel Sandoval disagreed and administered the count. Regardless of if Han was legitimately knocked down or not (press row was split) it was enough to light a fire in Helen Joseph and she fought aggressively to close out the round. Han, perhaps angry at the knockdown and looking to make a point, seemed to want to exchange with Joseph, standing inside with Joseph, Han fired a hard two punch combinations as Joseph stalked her. But a hard hook in the closing second of the round that clipped the chin of Han cemented what would be a big round for Helen Joseph.

Han returned to what was working for her in round four and again boxed effectively against Helen Joseph, who started to show signs of slowing down. By round five it looked as if Han might be able to pull of the unthinkable and stop the rugged Helen Joseph as a wicked combination in the closing seconds of the round seemed to stagger Joseph slightly. But Joseph seemed to come back in the sixth as Han began to stand in front of Helen Joseph more and let the Nigerian land more shots than she had been to in the previous five rounds.

“Keep boxing!” Abraham Han yelled from ringside as Jennifer stood in front of Helen Joseph much to the chagrin of her corner, “stay away from her!”

Han seemed to respond well to the instructions from her brother as she returned to the jab to close out the round. It would be Helen Joseph’s last round as Han would close out the final four rounds by putting on a boxing clinic. Han peppered her visibly winded opponent with lightning fast combinations and jabs, and by round nine it was clear that all she had tro do was stay upright to win the fight. Still, Han was leaving nothing to chance and boxed effectively against her aggressive opponent in round nine. Although Helen Joseph fought with the desperation and determination of a fighter trailing badly going into the last round of a title fight, she was unable to find the chin of Han in round ten. Han continued to box well and refused to give the round to Joseph, even though she clearly had the decision in the bag.

The scorecards were academic as Han won by wide margins on all three cards. Joel Elizondo scored the fight 97-92 for Han, while Chris Flores scored the fight 98-92 for Han. Judge Joel Garcia scored the fight 98-91 for Han, with all three judges giving Joseph third round and two judges giving her the second round. With the win Jennifer Han improves to 13-3-1, 1 KO while Helen Joseph drops to 12-3-1, 7 KOs.

“This was my best, toughest, most awesome fight I ever fought,” an ecstatic Han said at the post fight press conference. “I have no words for how happy I feel right now. This is the best feeling ever.”


Recent News