Agnesa Kirakosian on fighting her way to a bare knuckle boxing title victory

Agnesa Kirakosian in the ring

Agnesa ‘Spitfire’ Kirakosian has cemented herself as the first Armenian bare knuckle boxing champion. Her journey to hoisting the coveted BYB Super Flyweight title wasn’t always as straightforward as her jabs.

Kirakosian was born and raised in Vagharshapat, located just west of Yerevan, Armenia. Before boxing, she was introduced to a variety of sports that ultimately did not click with her.

“When I was a little kid, they put me in swim, gymnastics, art and forced me to do dance…my brother used to go to karate, and then I would always dress up in his state outfit and be like, teach me moves! And then I would always be fighting with him and other kids in Armenia,” Kirakosian said to the Armenian Weekly.

When she was nine years old, her family moved to the Los Angeles area, where she currently resides. ‘Spitfire’ told the Weekly that her time at Glendale Community College was pivotal in her introduction to the sport of boxing. Seeing the college’s boxers train for the first time drew her into combat sports.

“I thought that was so cool. They were training super hard, and it looked fun. It looked interesting, like, what are they doing? It looked like a Rocky movie,” Kirakosian explained. “I kept going past them, and I was looking at them, and they asked me, ‘Hey, do you want to come join?’ So now people ask me like, when did you choose boxing? I say boxing chose me.” 

That’s when the roots of her love for boxing were planted. But her family was initially hesitant when they found out about Kirakosian’s desire to box.

“They tried really hard to sit me down and talk to me and say that it’s not a good idea. My dad was like, ‘Why don’t you go play tennis?’” Kirakosian said. “My dad plays the electric guitar. He actually had a band in Armenia SpyurkI was like, ‘Why don’t you go play the flute then?’ And he kind of got the point, like, why would I go play tennis?”

“They tried really hard to discourage me and get me out of it, but nothing worked, because it was the true passion that I had, and I didn’t listen to anyone. I just followed what I wanted to do,” Kirakosian continued.

Her family would eventually get on board with her dreams, especially her brother.

“My brother was the only one who actually believed in me. He was the only one who was on my side, and he was like, come on, if she wants to do it, let her do it,” Kirakosian added. “Now they actually support me, and my dad helps me mentally. And when we were growing up, I felt like he would always play Bruce Lee movies. They have fights in them too.”

It wasn’t until 2021 that Kirakosian made her official pro boxing debut along the border of California, Arizona and Mexico. She defeated Sarahi Juarex Godinez, the hometown boxer, wasting no time with a TKO within seconds.

“I was super nervous, and I was really excited. I was just thinking, how am I going to do? And then I did everything that I was supposed to do,” Kirakosian said.

In total, Kirakosian holds an 11-2 amateur boxing record and a 6-1 pro boxing record, including three bare knuckle bouts. The boxing gloves would soon come off as Kirakosian entered the world of bare knuckle boxing.

“I got a really good opportunity from BYB, and my coach told me about it, that they had an offer for a contract to be on their card and fight in Dubai. I wasn’t really able to get more fights for boxing, and honestly, it wasn’t really paying as much. So I said, you know what, I’m down. Let’s do it if that’s what it takes. I want to go to Dubai and fight and rep my country,” Kirakosian explained.

The switch to bare knuckle boxing has been fruitful for Kirakosian. Debuting on March 18, 2023 for BYB Extreme Bare Knuckle (just 21 days after her final boxing bout), Kirakosian scored a unanimous decision win over Mariana Kamara. 

Later that year, Kirakosian stepped into the ring again for a battle with Jessica Link that ended in another unanimous decision win for the Armenian in the fight of the night at BYB 21.

Kirakosian’s success culminated on April 4, 2024 when she battled Shelby Cannon for the BYB Super Flyweight title in Florida. She said the physical preparations were just the tip of the iceberg.

“It was super hard and intense. It feels like the fights have gotten harder and harder each time. It was nerve-wracking, because I was just nervous all of the time, and I was training twice a day. Training with weightlifting, boxing, running, cardio, sparring…it’s like a spiritual, mental, physical fight. It takes a lot out of you. That’s why I’m glad I had my family supporting me and my friends,” Kirakosian said.

For Kirakosian, overcoming the mental challenge that the fight game brings was crucial to her success. “I love the whole thing about pushing yourself as much as you can and seeing where you’re at, but most of the time, I never felt like I was doing good. I feel like I’m doing bad at camp, and then you’re scared, like how is it going to go,” she reflected.

All of her hard work would indeed pay off. 

“During the fight, I felt like I started slow. I don’t know what was up with me. I was super nervous. I felt like, woah, this girl is stronger than I thought,” Kirakosian recalled. “And then I was like, you know what, now I gotta box. She made my nose bleed, and that woke me up.”

Her hand was hoisted up in victory for the BYB Super Flyweight championship.

“It’s basically in the judges’ hands, and I was praying to God. And when they raised my hand, I was for a second so relieved. All I could do was praise God, because we got the victory, and we were training for that. I wanted to perform my absolute best – and I got that. And even when I look back I’m like, man I could’ve done this better. I want to fight her again right now so I can do it way better, but I did everything I could in that moment, so I have to just give myself props instead of tear myself down,” Kirakosian said.

Prior to Kirakosian’s title victory, she made sure to bring the Armenian flag with her during the faceoff with her opponent. She says she takes a lot of pride in her people and where she comes from.

“It’s really important for me to represent my country, because we come from a small nation that’s been fighting our whole lives, even before we were born. Through so many genocides…we’ve been survivors, and I feel like every Armenian that succeeds in life, we’re a representation of our little country. They tried to overcome us, and they didn’t. I am proud to be an Armenian. It means a lot to be able to come from such a small country and represent who we are, and doing it in fighting just shows the fighting spirit that we have,” Kirakosian said.

Kirakosian is now enjoying her title victory to the fullest. Immediately following her fight, she was in pain from sustaining a broken hand during the fight. That led to an overnight stay in the emergency room. She credits the people around her during that hospital visit and eventual discharge for keeping her spirits high despite the injury. 

“The celebrations are happening now that I’m over it. I still have the pain and still haven’t done the surgery, but now it’s starting to hit me that, you know what, honestly I’d rather have a broken hand than a loss. Now I can enjoy it,” Kirakosian said.

Now, Kirakosian has shifted her focus to recovery and a future title defense. Through her experience leading up to her title fight and what followed, Kirakosian wants to help others smell the roses and appreciate what is in front of them. “I’ve been through a lot of stuff, and that’s what it all comes down to – perspective. Changing your mindset,” she said.

Jason Takhtadjian

Jason Takhtadjian

Jason Takhtadjian is a reporter, producer and weekend anchor at KCAU-TV in Sioux City, Iowa. Takhtadjian began college pursuing Mechanical Engineering with a focus on Aerospace until deciding to pursue a sports broadcast career after one semester at the University of Nevada - Las Vegas. While at UNLV, Takhtadjian worked on his own weekly radio show/podcast covering soccer and basketball, produced his own sports debate show, was part of the university’s weekly sports show “The Rebel Report” and was the play-by-play commentator for UNLV men’s and women’s soccer and basketball, to name a few. When the COVID-19 pandemic started, Jason was graduating college and had to pivot to the world of general news to land a job. Three years after accepting a job in the middle of the United States with no Armenian community, Takhtadjian accepted a reporter position at KSEE in Fresno, California. The 26-year-old also worked as a contributor for Armenian Sports News, helping grow the page by thousands of followers in less than a year of work.

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