Ana Julaton rises again
THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco (The Philippine Star) - April 17, 2017 - 12:00am

Fighters just have to keep fighting, winners just have to keep winning, regardless of which battlefield they’re in.

Former WBO and IBA super bantamweight world champion Ana “The Hurricane” Julaton defeated WBO title contender Maria “La Panterita” Nuñez in an eight-round Main Event on March 25 in Campeche, Mexico. The bout was part of a promotion by Allan Tremblay, CEO of Orion Sports and co-promoted by Yucatan Boxing. The win marked the start of the next chapter in Julaton’s career, which will include going back to her roots, mixed martial arts.

The fight was predicted to be tough for Julaton, (now 15 wins with 2KO’s, four losses and two draws), as Nuñez had knocked out 15 of her 17 victims. Most of Nuñez’s 12 losses were against world champions. Julaton, who had moved from California to Las Vegas to be closer to big boxing promotions, plans on making one more run at a boxing world title before retiring from the sport to concentrate on mixed martial arts, which she taught in San Francisco before taking up boxing full-time. Julaton had a brief dalliance with Asian promoter One Championship before going back to fisticuffs.

Steadfastly sticking to the game plan laid out by her coach Angelo Reyes, Julaton worked the jab in piston-like fashion, staying on the inside against the power-punching Nuñez, and timing her counters to win the fight going away by a score of 6 to 2 on every judge’s scorecard. Julaton has now won her last four fights, including a decision win over Karla Valenzuela also in Mexico last August. Also on the undercard were Serbo-Canadian light heavyweight Milos Pantelic and rising Puerto Rican fighter Emmanuel “Pinky” Colon, who are both also promoted by Tremblay.

There was a controversial mix-up at end of the fight when the announcer said that the tussle was a draw. The Mexican commission spoke with promoters Tremblay, Jose Rivero and Melchor Cob and apologized for the mistake. The fight was clearly and now officially a unanimous decision in favor of Julaton. Prior to the false news, the television coverage missed bit of important action as the director chose to focus cameras on the crowd while the bout was going on. Nevertheless, Julaton was the superior fighter.

“The Ana Julaton of old rose to the occasion against Maria Nuñez in a contest that virtually nobody gave her a chance to succeed,” Tremblay said proudly. “With her back to the wall and her career hanging in the balance, Ana delivered her finest performance over the last three years.”

Reyes, who also trains some of the top fighters in the UFC, revealed that the plan is for Julaton to give boxing one last shot, win a belt, and get a contract with the UFC. Becoming a reigning world champion will give her leverage for a better contract. All she is waiting for is for the right doors to open and clear the path to this next part of her life.

The grand irony is that, despite being where all the action is, and despite being at the zenith of her profession, Julaton still labors in relative anonymity to male counterparts who have not accomplished what she has. She continues to blaze a trail for female and Filipina athletes and fighters around the world, and is hoping the sport makes a breakthrough. At the end of the day, women’s professional boxing is starting to garner more attention, and that is a reflection on the growth of the sport in the lower weight classes. Still, equal treatment has not arrived for most women boxers, in terms of treatment, publicity and pay. Julaton has been vocal in social injustice, and has said so both as a boxer and guest commentator on American sports networks like ESPN.

Ironically, being in Las Vegas and having grown up in the largest sports market in the world has also somewhat distanced athletes like Julaton from a larger Filipino audience. This is why Ana’s management has been comsidering having her film a TV series in the Philippines, as she rediscovers her heritage as a proud Filipina. When you think about it, Filipinas have always been warriors, from the 14th-century northern Philippines legend of Princess Urduja to revolutionaries like Gabriela Silang and others. Fighting the status quo is a genetic Filipina trait, it seems. Julaton is the latest in a long line of women who take their destiny into their own hands.

There is a need to support athletes and sports that are in the cusp of breaking through to the next level. In the last decade alone, fans have brought women’s volleyball, football, rugby and other sports newfound popularity. Women’s boxing, however, has been mistreated at the amateur level. It is either left out because it is disrespected, or it is taken out because other countries fear how talented Filipinas are at it, as the SEA Games has proven.


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