Q&A with Olympic boxer Marlen Esparza
Any talk of 2013 being a rebuilding year for the local amateur scene has been effectively put to rest as its boxers won a dozen medals at last week’s USA Boxing National Championships in Spokane, Wash.
Despite several rule changes like a pro-style scoring system and the removal of headgear for the Elite Men’s division (but curiously, not for their female counterparts), the boxers of Region 11—the area spanning Northern and Central California—adapted successfully.
Olympic bronze medalist Marlen Esparza recently relocated from Houston to San Carlos to work with her new team (Victor Conte, Brian Schwartz, and Mike Bazzel). The move paid off as she won her eighth national title by unanimous decision over Texas’s Virginia Fuchs in the Elite Women’s flyweight final.
“With the new rules, I don’t think I would have won if I fought the same way I fought last year,” Esparza said. “It’s all thanks to my new team and the pros who sparred with me, Melissa McMorrow and Carina Moreno.”
Defending national welterweight champion Raquel Miller of San Francisco moved up to middleweight and lost her final to Baltimore’s Franchon Crews by unanimous decision. In a rare moment of frustration after the scores were announced, Miller pushed Crews in the face and regretted it later.
“Thank you to all my family and friends for all the love and support,” Miller said on her Facebook account. “I…had a moment of unsportsmanlike conduct. I apologize to my family, friends, coach, opponent and supporters. My mind [is] still set on the ultimate goal—Rio 2016.”
In the Elite Men’s division, Concord middleweight Daniel Thomas surprised the field by advancing all the way to the final, where he would ultimately take silver after losing on a tiebreaker to New York’s Le’shawn Rodriguez.
Reigning Junior Olympic national champion Marisol Lopez will bring a gold medal back to Stratford after winning Friday's Youth Women's light flyweight final by unanimous decision over Arizona’s Monica Suazo.
Here’s a list of all 12 medal winners by division:
165 lbs.: Daniel Thomas, Concord (silver)
114 lbs.: Eros Correa, San Jose (bronze)
123 lbs.: Edwin Sandoval, Bakersfield (bronze)
112 lbs.: Marlen Esparza, San Carlos (gold)
165 lbs.: Raquel Miller, San Francisco (silver)
119 lbs.: Casey Morton, San Francisco (bronze)
114 lbs.: Andrew Moy, San Francisco (silver)
114 lbs.: Brent Venegas, Sacramento (silver)
123 lbs.: Matthew Guerrero, Manteca (bronze)
165 lbs.: Aaron Katzman, Menlo Park (bronze)
178 lbs.: David Gaitan, Sacramento (bronze)
106 lbs.: Marisol Lopez, Stratford (gold)
SJSU’S SANCHEZ OUTPOINTED FOR NATIONAL TITLE
San Jose State's Gabriel Sanchez was aiming to be the school’s second National Collegiate Boxing Association champion in as many years last Saturday, but Army's Emmanuel Osei dashed those dreams in the 139-pound final at the Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, Conn.
UC Davis 156-pounder Colin Schmitt joined Sanchez in attaining All-America honors after his tournament run ended in the semifinals against Army’s Zach Hildenbrandt. Schmitt also won the Sportsmanship Award.
The U.S. Intercollegiate Boxing Association, the NCBA’s rival organization, will hold their own national championships at USF’s Koret Center from Thursday through Saturday. For more information, call (415) 422-6012.
PACIFICA’S SALAZAR READY FOR LAMONAKIS
Martha Salazar (11-4, 3 KOs) will return to the ring for the first time in six years this Saturday at the “Bike and Bash Show, Part II” at Sacramento’s Lions Gate Conference Center. Salazar will meet New York City’s Sonya Lamonakis (7-0-2, 1 KO), who holds the unofficial title of best female heavyweight in the world.
“It’s in my heart,” Salazar said about her comeback. “I’ve been a champ before, so I know what it takes to get back in there…I like to fight the best, and it’s going to be an action-packed fight.”
In the main event, exciting junior featherweight John Abella of Sacramento (3-0-1, 2 KOs) meets Salvador Cifuentes (1-4-1) in a rematch of their technical draw last November.
The undercard features two-time San Francisco Golden Gloves middleweight champion Ricardo Pinell (2-0-1, 1 KO) versus Sacramento’s Velvet Malone (0-4), former law enforcement heavyweight champ Larry “Cyco” Ward (1-4) against debutant Rick Cheek, and Sacramento junior featherweight Mario Ayala (1-0) taking on debutant Angel Silva.
For information to Friday’s public weigh-in and tickets to Saturday’s card, go to oppboxing.com.
Follow CSN Boxing Insider Ryan Maquiñana on Twitter @RMaq28.