Amateurs standout at Baby Face fight night

For her latest amateur fight night, promoter Blanca Gutierrez brought the action back home to her native Pacifica.

Well-known for her contributions to women’s boxing and the annual all-female “Beautiful Brawlers” events, Gutierrez and her Baby Face Boxing family presented an exciting night of boxing Saturday from the Pacifica Moose Lodge.

The lodge has been supportive of not only Gutierrez and the Baby Face family, but also women’s boxing in general in recent years. So it was only fitting that Gutierrez – founder and owner of Pacifica’s Baby Face gym – elected to host the event there.

It is because of such support and success that Gutierrez is very grateful to have boxing as a part of her life:

“I feel like I’m born and bred. But most of all, I’ve got to thank God for giving us the opportunities and for being with me every step of the way. If it wasn’t for that, I don’t think I would even be here. Glory to God! I know that sounds corny, but we totally believe it. You really become one with God in this sport.”

The event featured a total of ten fights – seven female, three male – and showcased young, rising amateur boxers from not just the Bay Area, but Canada as well.

Older competitors ranged from ages 14 to 35 while the two youngest were 11-year-olds Lexus Ramirez and Maria Jardinez.

The winners of each bout received first-place trophies while their opponents were presented with consolation medals.

Gutierrez told SFBay she was very happy with the turnout as well as the performances from all the fighters, especially the women:

“As soon as the women took the stage, they took over – nonstop punches, nonstop throwing. We had two stoppages – one (in) a women’s bout and one (in) a men’s bout. So it was a very, very good thing.”

Among the standouts was Pacifica’s own Ariana Borrero, who proudly represented Baby Face Boxing and recorded a spectacular first-round technical knockout to cap off her amateur debut.

Fighting similarly to her famous aunt – WBC women’s heavyweight champion Martha Salazar – 18-year-old Borrero dominated 21-year-old Abigail Rivera from the opening bell.

She constantly pumped her jab into Rivera’s face and relentlessly punished her with combinations, scoring three knockdowns en route to the referee’s stoppage.

Borrero told SFBay she was surprised at how easily she dominated Rivera and expressed her gratitude towards Gutierrez and Salazar for their guidance:

“Without Blanca and my tia Martha, I wouldn’t be able to be here in the same spot that I’m in. To be able to get a TKO, it’s all thanks to them. They showed me what it was like and I had to put in the dedication.”

Borrero has gained more discipline through such tutelage, which was evident in a virtually flawless performance.

Though she was also surprised at such thorough dominance, Salazar couldn’t have been more excited and acknowledged her niece’s hard work and dedication:

“She did an amazing job. She stuck in there and got a TKO, man. I thank Blanca because I train her once in a while, but Blanca is always with her telling her what to do. So much props to Blanca for helping out.”

Honing her boxing craft since the tender age of four, Borrero has trained at Baby Face alongside the likes of Salazar and reigning WBO women’s flyweight champion Melissa McMorrow.

Despite the pressure of living up to her aunt’s reputation in the fight game, learning from fighters of such caliber has been an amazing experience for Borrero:

“They’re very inspirational women and I need to step into their shoes as well and become an inspiration to girls that are younger than me and do what I have to do as well – listen to them and take after them.”

While Gutierrez also acknowledged such pressure, she was happy with how Borrero conducted herself throughout the fight:

“I’m happy with the fact that she got the stoppage and she didn’t have any mercy, because when you box, you really shouldn’t have any mercy. She knew how to end the fight.”

University of California, Santa Cruz student Sandra Magallon also represented Baby Face Boxing on Saturday in a spirited effort against friend and fellow Beautiful Brawler Dalia Gomez Valenzuela.

Magallon, a 21-year-old feminist studies and sociology major, constantly applied pressure on her fellow teammate. But Gomez Valenzuela – an alumna of the Evergreen State College in Washington – displayed effective ring generalship and consistently connected with pinpoint counter punches.

Gomez Valenzuela sealed the decision win in the third and final round when she cracked Magallon with a counter right uppercut followed by a crisp right hand and barrage of punches that knocked Magallon down.

Gutierrez believes such effective ring generalship demonstrates Gomez Valenzuela’s transition from fighting like an amateur to fighting like a professional:

“She is fighting like a pro and she is using her jab, but she should use it a lot more. But most of all, we’ve seen the improvement because she’s been fighting with Melissa McMorrow, Tatiana Almaraz, and Lupe Gutierrez. So for as much as she has taken a lot of pain in sparring, she brought it tonight and she won.”

Beautiful Brawlers champ Almaraz also competed in the first of two special U.S.A. vs. Canada bouts. She displayed her efficient craft by dominating Canada’s River Tucker en route to the decision win in the event’s only four-round bout.

The other bout saw Beautiful Brawlers champ Sarah Kozuma and Canadian Tonianne Willier engage in a spirited heavyweight scrap that Willier won via three-round decision.

Gutierrez believes the success of Saturday’s event further embodies the goals she and Salazar set by first opening the Baby Face gym:

“I think that other people are watching us do what we do and they’re either supporting us or they don’t want to see our success. But we’re not going anywhere. We’re going to get stronger, we’re going to get better, and we’re going to run boxing.”

Salazar also believes any future show she, Gutierrez and Baby Face present will always be successful because they simply emphasize the importance of equality:

“We try to give back to the community and to all these women that want to do this. We’re trying to give them a place where they can come and there are no excuses about (why) we can’t train you or (why) we can’t do anything for you like the other trainers do. So we’re trying to open the doors to whoever (wants to train). As long as they want to work and do what they want to do, we’ll help anybody.”