Having something to fall back on has kept Kim Clavel far more active than most other boxers in recent months, even in a year where she has yet to step into the ring.
It has also produced far more headlines and at least one well-deserved award.
The aspiring contender from Montreal will make her U.S. this Tuesday, facing Natalie Gonzalez (6-0, 2KOs) in a battle of undefeated 29-year old junior flyweights. The bout takes place on the undercard of a junior lightweight crossroads bout between former featherweight titlist Oscar Valdez (27-0, 21KOs) and Puerto Rico’s Jayson Velez (29-6-1, 21KOs), airing live on ESPN from MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
It also comes one month after Clavel was bestowed with the Pat Tillman Award for Service during the 2020 ESPYs, honored with the award for her work as a nurse during the global spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
The infectious disease shut down a planned March 21 appearance in her hometown, which was due to serve as her first main event. Clavel was due to face former two-time 108-pound titlist Esmeralda Moreno. When those plans fell through, she chose to revisit her previous career choice to take on a far more challenging opponent.
“When I came back and my fight was canceled, it was hard for me,” Clavel (11-0, 2KOs) admitted to BoxingScene.com. “It was supposed to be my main event and we worked hard for it. It was canceled due to the coronavirus, but it didn’t mean there was nothing for me to do. It just meant that I couldn’t fight in the ring.
“So, when the opportunity came to work (on the frontline) to help those who contracted the disease, I said yes. I am the type, when I want to do something in life, I go and do it.”
It was Clavel’s first time assuming that role since choosing to leave it behind last summer in favor of pursuing her dreams of becoming a world champion. Having juggled both careers, the decision came last August to fully commit to boxing until the ongoing global health crisis all but crippled the sport from mid-March through early June.
At no point did it dampen her enthusiasm of one day resuming her run as a junior flyweight contender on the rise.
“It is my lifestyle. After my shift, I just needed to train,” points out Clavel. “I needed to do something else (than just work). At first it was a little weird, but it wasn’t difficult. I found the urgency to train and it was easy.”
Her time spent combatting COVID-19 on a daily basis didn’t all go unnoticed, although material rewards were never the goal when Clavel agreed to bravely stand on the frontlines. The honors that came with it were a welcomed bonus, though never at all why she agreed to once again walk through those old doors.
It was simply a necessity in her life, as was the need to stay ready for whenever the time would come to climb back in the ring.
“I didn’t expect to win the ESPY award and didn’t even know I would be considered for it,” insists Clavel. “Everyone who won this award before me was American. Why a little skinny Canadian girl. It was really, really awesome. I was extremely proud and will remember this for all of my life.”
Now comes the time to create new memories—though staying ready for anything out of the ordinary.
“To change back from nurse back to boxer, it was because this opportunity came,” notes Clavel. “It was meant for me to fight now, so I took it.
“If I had to do it all again like this, I would.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox