Boxing is booming in the San Francisco Bay Area again. Currently the area, once fertile ground for some of the sport’s premier fighters, boasts four world champions. On Friday night at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California, reigning IBA Super Bantamweight Champion Ana “The Hurricane” Julaton looks to capture her second title as she takes on Donna Biggers for the vacant WBO Super Bantamweight title.
Julaton (5-1-1, 1 KO) of Daly City, California claimed the IBA 122-pound crown with a spirited ten-round decision over veteran former champion Kelsey Jeffries at the HP Pavilion this past September. Julaton entered the bout as an underdog, taking on an opponent who had ten times more career victories and won several world titles. After getting out to an early lead, Julaton boxed effectively down the stretch en route to the majority victory. The largely Filipino-American crowd applauded the decision, welcoming a new champion and rising star of the sport.
Just three months later, Julaton looks to repeat the feat as she takes on another experienced veteran for another vacant world title. Biggers (19-8-1, 16 KOs) of Boiling Springs, South Carolina has been in with some of best fighters the sport of women’s boxing has to offer and almost always held her own. Among her eight defeats is a ten-round decision loss to Kelsey Jeffries. On her way up the ladder, Biggers stopped nearly every opponent the states of North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia had to throw at her.
Just as was the case as she entered her last bout, Julaton will have a new, but familiar voice giving her instructions in the corner on Friday night. A pupil of Freddie Roach for the early part of her professional career, Julaton made the move to train under locally-based Nonito Donaire Sr. entering the Jeffries fight. However, Donaire had committed to train recently supplanted WBO Super Flyweight Champion Marvin Sonsona for his title defense two weeks back. With Donaire tied up, Julaton and her team made the call to a friend, and well respected trainer in the field of women’s boxing.
Rick Noble has made a name for himself as the trainer of elite female boxer Carina Moreno of nearby Watsonville, California. Over the years, both Noble and Moreno have lent their support to Julaton as she rose through the amateurs and turned professional. Now Noble takes over as the third different trainer of Julaton’s blossoming pro career.
“Being in the professional field it has been one crazy ride,” says Julaton. “I got to meet up with Freddie and Nonito Sr. and now having Rick Noble around. With the scheduling, it just happened to work out to have Rick come out and help out. He has always been around, and he and Carina have always given me advice over the years. So it just happened to work out for this one.”
For some fighters, making a switch in the corner could require a great period of time before things start to mesh. But, just as was the case when she made the move to work with Donaire, Julaton is working with a familiar trainer, which speeds up the acclimation process. “I was able to build relationships with all three of them before any of the fights,” said Julaton. “For instance, I met Freddie in 2006 when I was an amateur and I got to hook up with him again in 2007. As an amateur, Carina helped me often and we stayed close together. They gave us a lot of advice. The same goes for Nonito Sr. We met him back in 2007 and he got to work with me a little bit. And then I got to work with him again this year. So even though I’ve worked with different trainers I have been able to keep an open relationship with all of them to where I can call on them and see if they can help out. I feel really lucky to have that. Just this morning Freddie called me to wish me luck on the fight.”
In her last fight, Julaton implemented a different fight approach under the tutelage of Nonito Donaire Sr. than she had under Freddie Roach. Now Julaton enters her upcoming fight under Noble. “He is kind of the mediator between the two styles [of Roach and Donaire,]” said Julaton of Noble’s method. “I am still a student of the game. I have not mastered it and I still have a long way to go. Having Rick in the corner, he is kind of piecing things together and getting them to connect. It is always refreshing. It feels like I am always going into training camp and learning something new.”
With the short amount of time he has had with her, Noble did not look to make any major alterations to Julaton’s style of fighting. “In two weeks, the only thing I am working on is finalizing her conditioning and refining some of her defense and providing her with some good sparring,” said Noble. “She did spar with Carina, which was very helpful. She is in shape right now. I am really not making any big changes. She is used to me already. I told her, ‘I am not going to change you. We are just going to sharpen you up, build up your timing and work on your defense.’ She has already had a couple great trainers and she has definitely improved. The training of Freddie Roach and Mr. Donaire has really made her a lot better.”
In the end, it will be Julaton in the ring with Donna Biggers and not her trainers. Biggers is a challenge for any 122-pound fighter and Noble expects a tough fight. “She could pose a bit of a problem,” admits Noble. “Biggers has pretty good wheels and moves around pretty well. She has a lot of movement and she does appear to have a lot of power. The thing about Ana is that she can take a pretty good punch. I expect that it will probably go the full ten rounds. I always prepare for the ten rounds, and I always prepare the fighter for the ten rounds. If something incidental happens, then we will take it, but I expect the ten rounds.”
Dating back to her amateur days, Julaton has championed the cause of women’s boxing and looked to elevate her sport on many levels. The large congregation of Julaton supporters who came out to the HP Pavilion in September was a testament to all of her hard work. Julaton looks forward to another strong turnout for her second main event in San Jose this Friday. “I feel so blessed that everyone has been so supportive of this,” said Julaton. “We have been trying to bring female boxing here to the Bay Area. It has had a tremendous effect not only with female boxers, but I feel with a lot of female athletics. It has been a really exciting time.”
Julaton may have got the general boxing public’s attention with her last victory, and will now look to set the standard for other female fighters to follow. “This is what women’s boxing is all about,” said Julaton. “You have great athletes who are very competitive going at a high level. We are going to highlight that it is an exciting sport.”
Ana Julaton and her team have set up a website through which tickets can be purchased for the fight on Friday night. A portion of the tickets purchased through TeamJulaton.com will go to benefit the victims of the typhoons that swept through the Philippines in September.
Photo by Alfredo Perez
Mario Ortega Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.