by David P. Greisman
BoxingScene.com: Youíve got a fight coming up on Oct. 6. What do you think about your opponent and the fact that youíll be fighting in Pomona?
West: ďIím glad that Iíll be fighting in my hometown after three years of fighting in other countries, mainly. Iím excited about being in my hometown, and also being on Shane Mosleyís first pro card as the main event. That was a blessing in disguise. I never saw it coming. Itís an all of a sudden opportunity that had knocked.
ďI know Iím fighting Christina Ruiz. I do remember the day she fought Emily Klinefelter. They were fighting for a title in Emilyís hometown. Emily was supposed to be the one to win, and she [Ruiz] sent her into a coma, and Emily had to have open brain surgery. She hasnít boxed since. I know Emily very well, because I used to be in the amateurs with her, and we were amateurs at the same time going to nationals together.
ďAfter that fight, I didnít know who Christina Ruiz was, but Emily was writing me on Facebook, telling me ĎThereís this girl named Christina Ruiz that you need to fight, Kaliesha? Can you fight her? I just got caught with a good punch.í She was telling me to fight her, because she couldnít win. I was just listening, like, ĎAre you OK?í She canít box anymore, but thatís how I remember her, and that was a while ago. I think it was about two years ago.
ďMy dad, even before that, always had her as someone that he knew Iíd meet up with eventually because of our weight class, and weíre both in America. Iíve seen a couple tapes on her. Iím just listening to what my dad tells me on how to fight her.Ē
BoxingScene.com: What do you see in Ruiz? What kind of an opponent do you think sheís going to be for you?
West: ďI think sheís going to be a tough Joe Frazier or George Foreman type of. I know she fights one style, and thatís get in and brawl. Sheís one of those tough ones that donít go back and donít go down. She has a good chin. Sheís just a straight out fighter, kind of like a Chavez type of fighter.Ē
BoxingScene.com: Is this fight personal because of what she did to your friend Emily?
West: ďNo, not at all. Emily wanted it to be personal. I havenít talked to her since, but after that night I think Emily just needed some time to rest and heal and look back at things. Itís not personal to me. Back then I was a bantamweight, and I know this girl always fought at heavier weights, so I didnít even know that Iíd meet up with her. My dadís the one that keeps track of who I fight. I just fight.Ē
BoxingScene.com: This is potentially a very difficult opponent. As you said, this is someone who is very aggressive, whoís naturally bigger than you, and is both of these things in your first fight in some time at 122 ó I know you fought there earlier in your career. Is this too tough an opponent for your real debut at junior featherweight?
West: ďYou know what, with the California Athletic Commission, there is no choice. I have no choice but to fight a really tough opponent. Iíve always fought the best around the United States. Ada Velez, Ava Knight twice, even Rolanda Andrews was a real risk taker, her being so much heavier than me and having her power and being on a winning streak before she fought me. Thereís never really been too tough of a fight, because I feel that Iíve always had to fight tough whenever I fight in the states because of our athletic commission. So Iím prepared, because I expected that.Ē
BoxingScene.com: What do you need to do to beat her?
West: ďI think I have to realize my speed that I have against her and get my combinations going without giving her a breather, not allow her to set up her shots. Thatís what sheís best at, is setting up her powerful shots. I definitely want to be the busier, faster fighter.Ē
BoxingScene.com: You have fought at this weight before, but how does it feel being four pounds above where you were previously? How are you carrying the weight?
West: ďI think itís going to be a good weight for me, because just to make 118 I was drying out like 8 pounds, and that is a lot. Normally, especially for women, youíre supposed to just dry about half of that, about four. So I would get down to about 124, and then my weight would just stop, no matter what I would do, no matter eating right, matter how much Iíd run. And then Iíd have to starve myself and run with the sauna suit on and then spit pounds for the last six pounds.
ďSo I know Iíll be more comfortable, but my dad wants to see how my performance is. But people donít realize that Iím not a full-time boxer. I also go to school. I work a full-time job, and I box. Iím pretty sure if I could live and train and go gung-ho and be a full-time boxer that Iíd probably be able to make 118, no problem. But itís not like so that. Your body is so consumed with living a normal life that itís twice as hard to do and to be comfortable at.
ďBut another thing is Iíve been making 118 since I was 14 years old. A decade later, I now have hips that I never used to have. Itís scientifically proven that womenís hips become wider to deliver babies as they grow older. So Iím not the same form. I donít have the same form as I did when I was 14, 13. Why am I still making that weight?Ē
BoxingScene.com: Youíre fighting near your hometown. What are the benefits of fighting close to home, and is there additional pressure that comes with fighting at home?
West: ďOne thing I like about when I travel is I get so tunnel vision focused because I donít understand the language. When I was in Europe, I didnít understand what was going on. When I was in Peru, they all spoke Spanish, and Mexico, too. So itís easy just to stay focused. Out here, itís like every little thing everyone says, you understand. So when people are saying, ĎHey, you better not get knocked out, or hey Iíll be there with all my kids,í itís like oh my goodness. But I donít really let it consume me.
ďI like that Iím in my comfort zone, and I donít feel out of my dynamic. If I forget something, I can just go 30 minutes home and get it. Itís more of like a safe feeling.Ē
BoxingScene.com: What are your thoughts about fighting in the main event?
West: ďI feel honored to be in the main event, because it shows a lot. It says a lot about Shane Mosley Promotions alone, for them to have their very first card being a female main event, it shows that they donít have discrimination, they donít have sexism. Theyíre all about promoting the best fighters in the area that they can afford to have on their cards, regardless. Iím like being a part of any movement thatís for the positive, thatís for the better. If Iím going to be the part of a movement where a promoter has no problem promoting female fighters, then Iím thankful.Ē
BoxingScene.com: Is it too much to do, having work, school, training and then the publicity for being in the main event in a local card?
West: ďI donít think the average person can do it. But because I think I have like ADHD, Iím in a million different places anyway. My mind runs a million miles per hour. I think bc Iím that type of person, I can do it. I really donít see your normal average person doing this. I donít think theyíd be able to do it. Sometimes I have breakdowns. Iím not perfect. I have breakdowns where thereís a lot of pressure, and everyoneís calling me.
ďI end up isolating myself and disconnecting myself from everything: Facebook, everything. I wonít talk to anyone. And then everyone gets mad at me for not talking to them, but it makes me feel better. It kind of like rejuvenates me. Itís like taking a drink of water after a long run.Ē
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter @fightingwords2 or send questions/comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.orgTags: Shane Mosley