Ana Julaton in crucial televised tilt Saturday

Julaton: Time right for women's boxing to rise

Ana Julaton in crucial televised tilt Saturday
August 16, 2013, 2:15 pm
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Daly City's Ana Julaton (12-3-1, 2 KOs), has held the WBO version of the belt in the past. (TEAM JULATON)

"It’s huge to finally have this buzz surrounding women’s boxing here to get it to that next mainstream level."

- Ana Julaton

This is a man’s world.

At least that’s how American boxing promoters and the television networks have portrayed the power structure in combat sports over the past few decades.

But with the recent rise of female fighters like Ronda Rousey adding value to the burgeoning UFC brand, a few movers and shakers in the sweet science might have finally begun to acquiesce to the signs of the times, starting with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions.

This Saturday, Daly City’s Ana Julaton will travel to Cancun, Mex., to face Celina Salazar on a Golden Boy card that will feature not one, but two fights involving female boxers (Fox Deportes, 8 p.m. PT).

“It’s huge to finally have this buzz surrounding women’s boxing here to get it to that next mainstream level,” Julaton told CSNBayArea.com after wrapping up camp in Las Vegas with longtime trainer Angelo Reyes. 

Further aiding Julaton’s newfound momentum is the growing speculation that if she can emerge victorious without injury on Saturday, then she could land on the undercard of the biggest Golden Boy-affiliated show of the year—the Sept. 14 clash between Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez.  In such a scenario, Julaton would theoretically challenge Mexican Yasmin Rivas for the IBF 122-pound title, possibly on Showtime Extreme.

“I just feel so fortunate with everything that’s happened to even be mentioned to fight on a stage like that, or things like Showtime,” said Julaton (12-3-1, 2 KOs), who has held the WBO version of the belt in the past.  “Being inactive for a year, and with my current promoter Allan Tremblay battling cancer, it’s been tough.  But we have to keep pushing forward, and our goal is to get that title shot.”

Perhaps it’s also fitting that new Showtime Sports head Stephen Espinoza has also expressed interest in pushing for more women’s boxing on his airwaves.  The Stanford Law School graduate and former legal counsel for Golden Boy was part of the team that helped propel mixed martial artists Ronda Rousey and Gina Carano into mainstream stardom by featuring them on Showtime as part of the now-defunct Strikeforce series.

“Look at Ronda.  Look at Gina Carano.  If it makes money, it makes sense,” Julaton said.  “Stephen’s really passionate about boxing, and he has no problem with women’s fighters whatsoever.  It’s all about timing and opportunities, and with this being a male-dominated sport, we went out and talked to people like Stephen to try to make things happen, instead of sitting around crying like others have done in the past hoping these people would come to us.”

Tensions might be stoked across the Pacific Ocean if Julaton, a proud Filipina-American, were to fight on a Mayweather show.  After all, Mayweather hasn’t quite endeared himself to the Philippines over the years given his heated rivalry with national icon Manny Pacquiao, with whom Julaton has enjoyed a solid friendship over the years. 

For some, the idea of the most visible Filipina fighter joining “The Money Team” would be akin to Brian Wilson donning a Dodger jersey.  However, Julaton refuses to make the analogy that she’s crossing party lines.

“Being a representative of the Filipino community, I went out of my way to meet Floyd before his fight with Robert Guerrero,” she said.  “He’s the coolest guy.  He’s down to earth.  He’s always calling me ‘Champ’ and giving me hugs.

“In this sport, it’s all about respect, and I don’t see Manny having a problem with me getting an opportunity as a woman in a male-dominated sport.  If Floyd Mayweather or Golden Boy Promotions gives me the opportunity to fight on a card like that, I think any speculation about me with my experiences with Manny Pacquiao and now working with Floyd Mayweather being a negative thing is ridiculous.”

Regardless of the rumors, Julaton realizes that nothing will come to fruition if she doesn’t beat Salazar (4-1-2, 1 KO) this weekend.  The 24-year-old from San Antonio is a capable inside fighter, and she will likely attempt to neutralize Julaton’s signature stiff left jab by turning the bout into a slugfest contested in close quarters.

“I usually leave the film breakdown to Angelo, but he’s given me a lot of weaponry to deal with anything Salazar might bring to the table,” said Julaton, who will wear the silver and black of her beloved Raiders into the ring.  “If she wants to box or brawl, or even if she wants to cheat, I’ll be ready for it, because you never know what’s going to happen in that ring.”

Despite the dangers of possibly incurring an injury against Salazar, or enduring the usual wear and tear from a 10-round war, Julaton has vowed that if the Sept. 14 date becomes available, she would unequivocally take it.  At age 33, the El Camino High alum understands that the sands in her hourglass are not as plentiful as they were in the past.

“I know I’d only have less than a month to recover, but like I said, this is a sport where you have to take your opportunities when you can, bruises and all,” Julaton said.  “There is no such thing as a 401k in boxing.”

Hirsch in tough with explosive Jackson

Julaton isn’t the only Bay Area fighter seeing action on Saturday, as Oakland junior middleweight Tony Hirsch faces an uphill battle in the Virgin Islands against knockout artist John Jackson.

“We took the fight because Tony’s 29 years old, and he’s never had any major promoter behind him, so we’re going to make our own moves,” said Marlon Sullivan, Hirsch’s advisor. 

Jackson (16-1, 14 KOs) is the son of former junior middleweight star Julian Jackson, one of the most feared punchers of his day.  Undoubtedly, Hirsch (14-5-2, 6 KOs) enters the matchup as the clear underdog.  However, under new trainer Robert Garcia of Oakland’s Pacific Ring Sports, he is ready to reap the benefits of a full training camp—a rarity given his past experiences.

“Usually he gets only two to three weeks’ notice for a fight, but this time, he got eight weeks to prepare,” Sullivan added.  “He usually has to fight at whatever weight his opponent is coming in, but this time, it’s his natural weight of 154 pounds.  Plus, he’s usually a slow starter, but now he has eight rounds to get it done.”

The bout will be streamed live on GoFightLive (gfl.tv) at 5 p.m. PT for a price of $9.99.