‘Beautiful Brawlers VI’ continues Labor Day weekend tradition

Boxing promoter Blanca Gutierrez says she is excited to present her annual “Beautiful Brawlers” amateur boxing tournament this Labor Day weekend.

The tournament, which emanates Sunday from the Pacifica Cages next door to Gutierrez’ Baby Face Boxing Gym at 640 Crespi Drive, has showcased the best young female amateur talent from across the world since 2011 and spawned four additional installments – each as successful as its predecessor.

Its fifth installment last November featured bouts contested for World Boxing Council (WBC) amateur titles and was even streamed live on pay per view via the Competitive Fighting Sports website, making it the biggest Beautiful Brawlers event to date.

What began as a vision for Gutierrez and her close friend and boxing sister Martha Salazar has gradually evolved into a well-known tradition in their community and beyond that continues garnering recognition for the opportunities it presents female boxers.

Gutierrez told SFBay that it isn’t surreal to her seeing how well the Beautiful Brawlers tournament has prospered over the last five years because she is simply proud of what she and her Baby Face family have achieved together:

“Martha and I look at each other and smile and shake our heads because it’s something that we planned out and it just happened to be much bigger than we planned out to be. It’s something that we take pride in, it’s something that I’m very happy about, it’s part of my life. I’ve given up other parts of my life because of it, so I am proud of it. I’m happy for these girls most of all, because they get to follow their dreams and we help facilitate that.”

But with happiness and excitement comes the pressure of trying to have each Beautiful Brawlers event surpass the previous installment.

Gutierrez said it isn’t difficult conceiving new ideas for future Beautiful Brawlers tournaments, though she is nervous heading into the show because she takes pride in living up to her expectations.

But as she told SFBay, the show isn’t about her, at the end of the day:

“I put this all together, but it’s the girls who are the show. They need to live up to their expectations and their coaches’ expectations and once they do that, this show is incredible.”

Beautiful Brawlers VI will not be streamed live via pay per view, but Gutierrez said she will stream some fights via Facebook Live in hopes promoters will see the action and reach out to her as she is ready to make big moves very soon.

This year’s winners will receive newly-customized Beautiful Brawlers championships that will sport the Beautiful Brawlers logo as well as that of Gutierrez’ good friend – and reigning World Boxing Organization (WBO) women’s flyweight champion – “Mighty” Melissa McMorrow.

A WBC amateur title will also be awarded to the fighter who earns fighter of the night honors.

Representing Baby Face and Beautiful Brawlers on Sunday are four-time Beautiful Brawlers champion Iris Contreras, Ariana Borrero, Dalia Gomez and two-time Beautiful Brawlers champ Lupe Gutierrez (no relation to Blanca).

Gutierrez, who in July won a Junior Olympics gold medal in Dallas, Texas, said she is excited to be one of the main headliners this year and thankful that Blanca created such a stage for female boxers to compete on and garner recognition:

“I think if it wasn’t for Beautiful Brawlers, the girls still wouldn’t be as known as much. What she’s doing is for all girls and I think that’s getting it (recognized) worldwide.”

Fifty-year-old Beki Light will also make history as the oldest competitor to compete in a Beautiful Brawlers tournament when she represents Baby Face in a special Masters division bout.

The Masters division is open to all male and female amateur boxers age 41 and older. The age difference between competitors is no more than ten years younger or ten years older.

Master Boxers are also prohibited from competing against opponents younger than 35 years of age.

Baby Face Boxing hosted its final morning sparring session on Saturday in preparation for Beautiful Brawlers VI.

Among those in attendance was Marlen Esparza, who won a bronze medal in women’s boxing at the 2012 London Olympics.

Blanca Gutierrez described Esparza’s presence as a beacon of light and said it was great seeing her help the team prepare for the show by sparring with McMorrow, Contreras and Lupe Gutierrez:

“I love (Marlen) a lot and she’s great for the sport and she’s one of those fighters that will always represent us well.”

Esparza’s 2012 Olympic teammate Claressa Shields recently made history at this year’s Rio Olympics on August 21 by becoming the first American boxer, male or female, to win Olympic gold back to back.

Blanca Gutierrez acknowledged Shields’ victory as a big moment for women’s boxing and believes it makes Beautiful Brawlers VI an even more special occasion than it already is.

Such historic achievement is a reminder to Lupe Gutierrez, who hopes to compete in the 2020 Olympics, that anything is possible through hard work and dedication:

“I look up to her and seeing her do that, it kind of melted my heart a little bit just knowing that I could be doing that too.”

Women’s boxing is certainly on a roll in the wake of Shields’ victory, especially after featherweights Heather Hardy and Shelly Vincent made history in New York that same day by competing in the first televised women’s bout in Premier Boxing Champions history.

Blanca Gutierrez acknowledges this as the perfect time for women’s boxing to capitalize on the momentum its fighters have recently built and continue pushing forward with the women’s revolution in sports.

Gutierrez and her Beautiful Brawlers continue to proudly promote and embody female empowerment and hope those in attendance this Sunday acknowledge that boxing will always be their lifestyle.

But she also hopes her tournament will one day present her an opportunity to introduce her fighters – especially hard-working and deserving ones like McMorrow – to broader audiences through television exposure:

“Put Melissa on TV! If I say anything about anybody, Melissa McMorrow puts all her time and effort into this. She’s a tough fighter. Don’t stick her on the shelf to try and pull her out later on a big card to be an opponent. She’s not an opponent; she’s a world champion. Put us on TV – that’s my number one thing out of this.”