The term “Road Warrior” is an often overused cliché in boxing, but it seems to suit super featherweight Belinda “Brown Sugar” Laracuente of the Bronx, New York, to a ‘T.’ The first thing that she does when she wakes up each morning is scour the Internet for upcoming fights.
Acting as her own manager and booking agent, she contacts promoters from around the world to offer her services. If the price is right she will rarely turn a fight down, regardless of where or when it is being held.
“I put ads on the Web looking for fights,” said the always smiling Laracuente, who exudes an extremely positive life-force. “I let them know that I’m ready to fight from 126 to 140 pounds and that all my medicals are in order.”
Laracuente next laces them up in France on July 15, where she will engage in a rematch with undefeated Myriam Lamare, 12-0 (6 KOS), of Marseille. In their first encounter, in March 2006, Lamare won a unanimous ten-round decision. Laracuente hopes to leave France with a victory this time.
“I’m very relaxed in the ring, even if it is on a big stage,” said the 27-year-old Laracuente, who has squared off in New York, as well as in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Tokyo, Puerto Rico, California, Michigan, New Hampshire, Louisiana, Florida, Nevada, Missouri, and Pennsylvania.
“I’m always in shape, so all I like to have is two weeks notice for fights,” said the superbly conditioned Laracuente, who very often spars with men at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. “Usually I’m lucky if I get two days. Boxing is more mental than physical, so it is important to train hard and do things that keep me mentally focused.”
Laracuente’s seemingly nominal record of 22-13-3 (9 KOS) is deceptive. Every one of her losses has been by decision, and many have been to the best women in boxing. She has lost to Christy Martin in Las Vegas, as well as Sumya Anani and Mary Jo Sanders in Louisiana, Jessica Rakoczy in California, Melissa Fiorentino in New Hampshire, and Chevelle Hallback in Canada.
She has also beaten several previously undefeated or once-beaten fighters, including Ann Saccurato, who was 9-0-2, in both of their hometowns of New York, and Iva Weston, 8-0, and Daniella Somers, 8-1, at different venues in Florida.
Along the way she also battled to a draw with Tracy Byrd, the sister of former heavyweight champion Chris Byrd, and Valanna McGee, who was 11-2-1.
She says that the majority decision she lost to Martin still irks her. “I thought it was an easy fight,” said Laracuente. “Two judges had Christy winning, and the other had it a draw. I thought I beat her seven rounds out of eight. Christy said I ran too much, which is not true. She should give credit where credit is due.”
Laracuente was born in Connecticut, raised in Puerto Rico, and now lives in the Bronx. She became involved in boxing as a teenager through her brother, a veteran of over 200 amateur fights who is now a police officer in Puerto Rico.
When she began training, she most admired Martin and never could have imagined that she’d one day meet her in the ring.
“She was the girl who inspired me,” said Laracuente. “She made me believe that girls could really fight.”
Another girl who she says can really fight is Hallback, who beat Laracuente by decision in November 2005. Their ring battle aside, they are the best of friends and have tremendous mutual respect for each other.
“There are a lot of Mickey Mouse belts out there, so it is hard to respect a lot of the belt holders,” said Laracuente, “Chevelle is probably the most gifted fighter in women’s boxing and even she can’t get the big fights. It’s tough out there for everyone.”
For a while Laracuente studied to be a dental hygienist, but dropped out of school after breaking her ankle. Once recovered and the boxing bug bit, it became her full-time preoccupation.
“I’m always hustling to get fights, because I really don’t have anything else to fall back on,” said the extremely intelligent Laracuente, who would obviously have lots of choices if she put her mind to it. “Right now boxing is really all I’ve got.”
Although she occasionally does private training, she is most comfortable boxing on the road. She insists on earning purses of what calls “clean money,” meaning no sanction fees or taxes are deducted. She usually asks for half in advance. When she took the first fight against Lamare, for which she says she got less than two weeks notice, she received $4,000 and hoped to get $6,000 for the rematch.
She also likes to travel with two people, but most often promoters will only send her tickets for one companion. She also requests a separate room at a decent hotel, three meals a day, and free transportation to the gym. As an independent contractor in the toughest of vocations, she has learned – often the hard way – that if you don’t ask you don’t get.
“I’m always the underdog,” said Laracuente. “I’m not intimidated by that at all. When I go back to France, all I have to know is that there is a ring and I will fight. Everyone there knows that the fans will get their money’s worth. In this business, you don’t work if you don’t produce.
“Promoters know that when I call them, I will show up in shape and ready to go,” she continued. “Boxing is a small world. Once you get a bad reputation, it is hard to shake it. I worked hard for my reputation, and I’m very proud of it.”
Info on the July 15 Laracuente-Lamare bout, which will take place at La Palestre, Le Cannet Cote d’Azur, can be obtained at the following web site: www.lapalestre.com