Jennifer Han put on a boxing clinic — an absolute clinic — Saturday night in the Don Haskins Center.
And that clinic brought El Paso its first world championship … a first world champion for this boxing-proud border city. And that clinic brought a dream to reality for Han.
“I didn’t win this,” Han said to a loud and excited crowd of about 1,500. “We all won this.”
Han dominated the fight from beginning to end in winning the International Boxing Federation world featherweight championship over Helen Joseph, who is originally from Nigeria but now lives in Ghana.
The scorecards of the judges reflected as much — 97-92, 98-92, 98-91. And it might not have been that close.
Han used her classically beautiful left jab and tireless movement to frustrate the knockout artist Joseph. She moved, lived on that left to the chops and quickly mixed in some short, chopping right hands, an occasional short right uppercut and a lightning left hook.
“I lost,” Joseph said. “No problem. But I’d like a rematch.”
Han improved to 13-3-1 with the dominating victory. Joseph fell to 12-3-1.
Han set the pattern from the opening bell, moving and jabbing, moving and jabbing. Joseph continually came forward, throwing big bombs, looking for that one big punch that would help her take this title back to Ghana. But every time she came forward, she found Han’s stinging left jab in her face.
The only speed bump for Han came in the fifth round .. and even that was questionable. Han appeared to slip in the corner but it was ruled a knockdown. She quickly remedied that problem by totally dominating the remainder of the round.
The crowd continued to chant “Jenny, Jenny, Jenny” as each round went on, each round bringing Han closer to a dream, each round bringing El Paso closer to its first world championship. Her brother Abie, himself a world class fighter, shouted nonstop from her corner: “Stick and move, use your defense, get out of there and use your jab.”
But Han always knew exactly what she was doing, always making the right moves from round one through round 10. As they moved to the women’s championship rounds — nine and 10 — Han continued to listen to her longtime trainer Louie Buirke and continued to make Joseph miss and continued to stick that classic left jab in her kisser.
“That fight was the best, most awesome fight I’ve fought,” Han said. “No words for how happy I am. I’m so honored, proud to be El Paso’s first champion. I want to continue making it proud by defending the world championship.
“She (Joseph) is a hard puncher, but I’m experience and I can take a punch,” Han said. “I started feeling her wearing down after the fifth round. It was a slip on my part in the fifth. She didn’t knock me down.”
And then came that special moment, the moment the bell rang to begin the 10th and final round. Only two minutes separated Han and a dream of a lifetime. The 10th was no different than the first nine. Han jabbed beautifully, moved, mixed it up just a bit with some stinging right hands.
It was classic.
“I’m still shaky,” Han said. “I’ve waited for this moment my whole life.”
And on this September Saturday night, Han boxed beautifully and made her dream come true; and El Paso’s, too.
Credit: El Paso Times