Sport Aussie Cherneka Johnson wins women’s boxing world title

Aussie Cherneka Johnson wins women’s boxing world title

Australia's Cherneka Johnson (r) is a world boxing champion after beating Mexico's Melissa Esquivel. Photo: AAP
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Cherneka Johnson is Australia’s newest world boxing champion after winning by split decision over Mexican Melissa Esquivel in their title fight at the Melbourne Convention Centre on Wednesday night.

Johnson clinched the vacant IBF world super bantamweight title in a 10-round duel on the same card as the middleweight world title eliminator between Michael Zerafa and Issac Hardman.

One judge scored Esquivel as the winner 96-95 while the others gave New Zealand-born Johnson the win 96-94 and 97-93.

Johnson’s superior fitness appeared to win out in the end, with her hard-hitting rival hampered by a knee injury.

With a record now at 14-1-0, Johnson used her jab to keep peppering her opponent while also managing to land some heavy blows in a quality fight.

“I knew that she’d come to fight and I knew that she’d be tough and she was ready to brawl,” an ecstatic Johnson said.

“I stayed on my jabs, stayed on my game plan and I dug deep towards the end there and I’m victorious which is what I came here to do.

“I’m so excited.”

Johnson, who goes by the fight name Sugar Neekz, immediately called out fellow Australian Ebanie Bridges, who won the IBF bantamweight title last month.

“Ebanie Bridges, if you’d like to come up a division (in weight) or I’m happy to come down,” Johnson said.

Johnson now has a (14-1-0) record, her only loss coming last year when she was on the wrong side of a controversial split decision against fellow Australian Shannon O’Connell for the WBA gold bantamweight title.

She said she wanted revenge on O’Connell.

“Shannon O’Connell let’s get that rematch happening,” Johnson said.