Women’s boxing has a new pedigree of female athletes who are well versed in the facets of the game as a result of training under the same high level programs as their counterparts the men, and doing so from a young age. This evolution in the genre has produced female fighters who are thinkers and more technically sound with their hands instead of just free-swinging bruisers. The level of female talent plying their craft in gyms the world over is at an all-time high. With accomplished and exciting fighters out there such as Ava Knight, Kaliesha West, Ronica Jeffrey, Marlen Esparza (amateur) and teenage amateur sensation Clarissa Shields, women’s boxing has come a long way. Yet it continues to seek fresh faces to add to the growing talent pool and one can be found in the form of San Diego, California’s hard charging undefeated junior flyweight gem, Amaris “Diamond Girl” Quintana (5-0-2, KO).
22-year-old Quintana, of La Mesa, CA, is trained by David and Max Gutierrez of the Gutierrez Boxing Club in San Diego, and she began her pro career at the age of 19 in 2009 with a victory over Riverside’s Gloria Salas, whom she’s gone to war with three times and came out the victor each time.
In fights she thought she did enough to win Amaris fought to a draw twice with the talented Melissa McMorrow [who fights former champ Arely Mucino for the interim WBA flyweight title this weekend], and in her last and best performance to date Quintana got her first knockout when L.A.’s Katarina de la Cruz wasn’t able to answer the bell for the 3rd round after getting run over by one of the 619′s finest female gladiators.
Women don’t hold back inside the ring and it’s no different for Quintana as she brings a fan friendly style that sees her put major pressure on her opponents, often resulting in toe-to-toe action from beginning to end. The Diamond Girl is an orthodox fighter that stands 5′ 2″ and while she’s small in stature she’s tall in heart, comes to bang, and has made it clear she’s willing to go anywhere to fight anyone.
Quintana likes to come forward and utilizes a solid jab. She has a good overhand right and a great left hook, especially to the liver. Like your typical Mexican warrior she likes to exchange on the inside and puts her punches together well, shows a stout chin, and is definitely one of the up-and-coming young guns to keep an eye on.
Amaris had success in the amateurs as well winning the 06′ Desert Showdown, the State and National PAL championship and came home ranked #2 in the country after the 08’ Nationals in Colorado Springs.
Whenever I interview a female fighter I’m always moved by their passion for boxing which is expressed through their devoted sentiments regarding the sport they love. When female warriors speak of the sweet science the desire, respect, and exultation displayed through voice is palpable. And considering the landscape of female boxing, those aforesaid emotions and attributes will reveal themselves in lady paladins nine times out of ten; why else would they do it? Women do not fight for fame, money, or accolades because those luxuries are scant. Instead, ladies like Amaris Quintana fight simply for the love of boxing, no less no more. And that adulation rang clear in the Diamond Girl’s tone when I recently spoke with her concerning her burgeoning boxing career, the women’s division in general and what she wants to accomplish in-and-out of the ring.
SDFights: To get my readers familiar with you, can you tell me how and when you got involved in boxing and why you chose it as a career?
Amaris Quintana: “Well I started when I was about 14-years-old back in 04′ or 05′. I grew up with most of my guy cousins so I was always playing football, soccer and baseball with them. I was always kind of into rough sports. My brother started [boxing] before me, and he would go and train and then come back home and teach me a little bit, and it got me excited to box. So I asked my father, ‘Can I go and train?’ and he said, ‘No, it’s not a sport for girls!’ And since I’m the only daughter he and my mom said no. It took me a while to convince them. Finally he said, ‘okay you can go and train,’ and my mom said, ‘no!’ But my father said, ‘let her go train, she’s going to get hit and she’s going to get scared, and she’s not going to like it.’ But I went to the gym and I started liking it so I kept going and learning more and really got into it. Then mycoach asked me to spar and I said, ‘okay.’ I went home and told my parents that I needed a mouthpiece and head gear and my dad got even more nervous but said, ‘okay fine.’ My dad was there that day and he was surprised that I was able to take the punches and that I was doing well. And he saw that I liked it, and have since. It’s been my whole life now since I started and I just kept training and went to tournaments [as an amateur]. I won the Desert Showdown, the National PAL in Oxnard, the State and National, and then I got ranked #2 in the country after the Nationals in Colorado Springs.”
SDF: What would you say is your style of fighting?
AQ: “I would say that before I was a brawler. I like to go in there and trade but now that I’m with my trainers [David and Max Gutierrez] at Gutierrez Boxing Club, they taught me how to box more. I now know how to box a little bit with more style and technique, instead of just going straight in there. But I’m still a brawler at heart, I just do it smarter. I sit down on my punches now and think about what I’m going to throw, and if a girl brings it to me, I’m going to bring it back, but I try to do it more intelligently now.”
SDF: What do you think is your best asset or weapon?
AQ: “I would say my left hook; and my right hand. When I sit down and throw it right it connects well.”
SDF: How did you come together with your trainers David and Max Gutierrez?
AQ: “I actually had about three different trainers before I met David. What happened is, back in the days when my dad was younger he sparred David one time when he was training at the gym David was training at. So my dad thought of them and said, ‘They’re good coaches, they have good fighters and good schooling.’ So he ended up taking me back there and they accepted me, and I started my pro career with David and Max.”
SDF: I hear your weight doesn’t fluctuate that much and that you stay around 108 pounds. Is junior flyweight where you plan on staying for a while or are you still growing?
AQ: “For me it’s hard to make a higher weight, I’m always under. Every fight I’ve had I’ve either been under by two pounds, and this last fight I was under by four. It’s hard for me to go up in weight but I wish I could. I can make 105lbs; I walk around at 108lbs. My last two fights have been at 110lbs, that’s as high as I can go, and I’m always under by a pound or so.”
SDF: The only blemishes on your record are your two draws with Melissa McMorrow. What did you learn or take away from those fights, and do you feel you won either or both?
AQ: “I thought I outscored her a bit more, but at the same time my mistake was staying in there because she would tie me up and just throw crazy punches. So I think that’s what threw me off, you know, staying in there. I was doing well when I was boxing her and keeping her at my distance. That’s one thing I learned.”
SDF: Would you like a 3rd fight with her to set things straight or are you just focused on moving forward?
AQ: “I want to move forward right now but later on I would like to fight her again yes, and clear it up.”
SDF: You were impressive against Katarina de la Cruz stopping her in 2. She’s tall and outweighed you by 10 pounds on fight night. Did it give you any problems, or did you find it easy to adjust to?
AQ: “Not really, I’m used to sparring the guys at my gym and sometimes they are a lot heavier than me. So I just don’t think about the weight, I just ran in there and did my thing, and did what I was taught in the gym and worked hard.”
SDF: De la Cruz was your first KO victory. Did the fact that she pulled out of your previous fight add fuel to your fire, and were you looking for the knockout?
AQ: “I knew I wanted to go hard because of the time she backed out, but I wasn’t looking for the knockout. Like my coaches tell me, you can’t look for the knockout; the knockout will come when it comes. So I was just doing my thing but I was happy with the knockout.”
SDF: Do you think that was your best performance and how would you grade it?
AQ: “I think I did better. My coach tells me he sees me improving a little bit more in every fight. And I feel it too; I’m improving little by little. In boxing you never stop learning, you’re always learning something, and you work on it hard.”
SDF: It’s a perpetual uphill struggle in women’s boxing in terms of promotion, sponsorship, getting fights and a slew of other hurdles. Can you talk about that a little and are these struggles one’s you find yourself dealing with?
AQ: “It’s gets hard because I train full-time. Everyday I’m at the gym. There are days that I miss because I have to rotate or something happens. I’m always at the gym though, training and staying ready just in case something comes up. It does get frustrating sometimes because you’ll see three; four, five months go by and nothing. Sometimes they’ll tell you a date and the date comes and they don’t have an opponent for you, or something happened, or the event gets cancelled. I have my family and my friends though, that are always there pushing me, helping me to keep my head up, and to keep training and going forward.”
SDF: Who promotes you, Jorge Marron and Bobby D?
AQ: “I haven’t signed a contract with them but they are the ones who have helped me get my fights here in San Diego.”
SDF: Do you have a regular job or go to school?
AQ: “Right now I am working Tuesday through Saturday, five or six hours a day at Cross Fit Gym in Chula Vista [CA]. Then straight from work I go to training from 5 to 7:30 or 8pm. My job has helped me too because I can do my strength and conditioning. My boss also knows that I box and they support me so every time I have a fight he gives me the days off whenever I need. He works with my schedule and that’s a good part of it.”
SDF: What will it take to change women’s boxing so that warriors like you and the one’s that come after have it better?
AQ: “There are a lot of great women fighters and the commission doesn’t give us the respect we deserve or need. It’s a man’s sport but women are doing great at it. There are a lot of women, a lot of styles and different techniques, and great talent out there. We need to step it up a little more. We need to push them [promoters and networks] more to give us the main events, and we need to promote ourselves better, and not give up, and to always keep working hard.”
SDF: What are some things you enjoy doing outside of boxing?
AQ: “I love my San Diego Chargers, win or lose I’m always there. I go out a lot with mycousins. Bowling, movies, walks, the beach. I also like to play rough sports. I like to play football, not just watching it but playing it too. And I like to go for runs with my dog.”
SDF: What do you want to achieve in your boxing career and how do you want to be remembered when it’s all said and done?
AQ: “I want to get to the top. I want to have a big fight in Vegas at the MGM Grand and win a title. I want to help build up women’s boxing and get paid what we deserve, as well as getting the same support as the men. Really; the fame doesn’t matter to me I just want to get my title and know that I achieved my goal. It’s my dream, my everything, this boxing. I want to be remembered as a great boxer and a great person.”
The female combatants we are dealing with nowadays are more developed and display actual skill and expertise. And if the promoters and networks — who up to this point have staunchly resisted marketing the genre — would free themselves from their timeworn misconceptions and give these ladies a chance, they would realize they have boxing attractions that are often more exciting to watch than their male counterparts.
While it’s at a slow pace, female prizefighting has made strides and for the first time in history women’s boxing will be a part of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England. With a platform like that, women’s pugilism is poised to make a climb in notoriety and recognition among the fight fraternity that is boxing. That bodes well for the jewel known as the Diamond Girl who is waiting for her hill from which to shine, as are many other female fighting diamonds-in-the-roughs that yearn for a level playing field while waiting for promoters and networks to open their eyes and realize that these dedicated and brave women are easily within their viewing pleasure.
Quintana’s next performance is March 9 on the undercard of James “El Chocolate” Parison and Lester “Cubanito” Gonzalez’s 8 round middleweight clash. “Champions of Tomorrow” will take place at the Wyland Center at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in Del Mar, CA, at 8pm.