Tunisia native Ikram Kerwat, a mother of two, headlines this Thursday in the initial female boxing main event streamed on UFC Fight Pass, live from Casino Del Sol's outdoor AVA Amphitheater in Tucson, Arizona. Kerwat (9-1, 5 KOs), fighting out of Frankfurt, Germany, throws down with Simone DaSilva (15-12, 6 KOs) of Brazil in the ten-round main event. DaSilva has the distinction of going 0-9 in various title fights. In the co-feature, bantamweight Max "The Baby Face Assassin" Ornelas (12-0-1, 4 KOs) clashes with Alex "Xhino" Rangel (17-9, 4 KOs), of Mexico, in an eight-round bout. Tucson's Alfonso Olvera (11-5-2, 4 KOs) meets Carlos "Silk" Villa (14-3-1, 6 KOs), of San Antonio, in a six-round welterweight attraction, and undefeated middleweights Tucson's Nicholas Rhoads (5-0, 2 KOs) takes on Eduardo Ayala (4-0, 1 KO), of Phoenix in a four-round match.
Kerwat is trained by living legend Roy Jones, Jr., wjo is also the fight's promoter. "Ikram is an exciting fighter with awesome power and good hand speed," Jones evaluated his protege. "She's always looking to improve, and I look forward to her next voyage towards a world title."
The 35-year-old Kerwat will be fighting in the United States for the fourth time as a pro boxer. "Fighting in the U.S. was always one of my biggest dreams," she commented. "It's amazing. I already have a fanbase and they are really awesome. I like the enthusiasm and positive energy of U.S. people. I want to give a big shout out to my family and my coach and promoter, Roy Jones, Jr., his wonderful wife, Natlyn Jones, and, of course, the RJJ Promotions team for this opportunity and their kindness."
A pro since 2015, Kerwat first met Jones at the WBC Convention three years ago in Miami. "It's an honor for me to lean from a legendary boxer like Roy," she added. "He's a boxing guru! Before I met Roy, I was a brawler, more of an aggressive fighter. Now, I'd say I learned to skillfully box. I've made a lot of improvements and I developed more, boxing-wise. I grew mentally, which is the most important part in boxing and life."
Ikram doesn't feel that she's at a disadvantage because of her opponent's edge in quality experience. "My opponent is experienced, but this means nothing to me," she remarked. "I fear nobody, but I respect all boxers who step in the ring. I do not underestimate anyone, nothing more, and nothing less. I don't look at her, I look at myself. This is only thing I have control over. I do my job, live my dream, and I have fun doing it. I enjoy every single minute of it. This next step is very important for us. Every single fight brings me a step closer to my goal, which means that every single fight is significant for my career. Fights like this even more so."
Although she had only three amateur matches, including a gold medal performance in the Berlin Championships and taking bronze in the German Championships, Ikram is positioning herself for a world title fight in the not too distant future, assuming she gets past Da Silva. "I trained myself (as an amateur) and that wasn't easy for me, because I really wasn't a trainer, but I wanted it so bad and now even more," Kerwat concluded. "I have two kids and I used to say boxing is my third child. And it's the oldest. I protest and love it, making sure that I progress and develop, getting better and better.
Undefeated Kazakhstan fighter Madiyar Asjkeyev (11-0, 6 KOs) faces Cecil McCalla (21-3, 8 KOs) to open the non-televised segment in a ten-round junior middleweight bout.
Former UFC fighter Joe "Diesel" Riggs (47-18-1, 1 NC), fighting out of Phoenix, makes his professional boxing debut versus pro-debuting Daviante Jones, also of Phoenix, in a four-round bout.
A pair of Tucson middleweights, Arturo Resendiz (2-0, 2 KOs) and Jose "Raging Bull" Pena (2-1, 1 KO), are matched in the four-round swing bout.