While in the world of academia Rhonda “The Natural” Luna shows her students the gentle side of her busy life with words of encouragement and caution, but this Thursday those same students and others get a glimpse of her sporting side as she battles New York’s Ela “Bam Bam” Nunez for the junior lightweight world title.
Luna (15-2-2), a highly ranked female prizefighter for the past four years, finds herself vying against Nunez (9-6-1) for the vacant GBU junior lightweight world title on Thursday Oct. 28, at San Manuel Casino. It’s her fourth attempt at a world title but this time she’s at home.
“It’s nice to just be in my own backyard and not working against anything but what’s right in front of me,” Luna said by telephone. “A couple of times I did feel like things were taken from me.”
What Luna means is her previous attempts have always been in other states or other countries. In November 2009, her last fight, Luna fought Ji-Hye Woo in the South Korean fighter’s country. She lost by unanimous decision.
“I was discouraged because from the minute I got off the plane I knew what I got myself into. I knew it was going to take damn near a miracle to pull something off there,” Luna says of that last world title attempt. “Even when I eventually saw the scorecard I knew unless I put that girl on her back I pretty much wasn’t going to win that fight. I took it as a learning experience. Any time you get an opportunity how can you turn it down?”
Other title bids took place in New Mexico and in New York.
“Every title fight I had to go into some adverse situation. First one in New York against a girl from New York,” said Luna, who was undefeated when she battled undefeated Cindy Serrano to a draw in 2005 for a vacant featherweight title.
Once again Luna fights a New Yorker in Nunez, a scrappy and skillful boxer who’s a former junior featherweight world champion.
“I can’t say that I know a lot about her. I’ve seen her fight once. I’m sure she is going to be a tough opponent, she’s ranked like I am,” said Luna who counsels students at Santa Fe Middle School in Monrovia. “I don’t really see anything to be intimidated by. I don’t go in there like that anyway, she’s just the next opponent in my way.”
Nunez has fought some of the best female prizefighters in America including Melissa Hernandez, Jeri Sitzes, Dominga Olivo and Kina Malpartida. She brings a lot of world class experience.
Surprisingly, this fight was not scheduled to be a world title fight but a fight tabbed for the main event evaporated and the female fight was bumped up to the main event. That opened an opportunity to make it for a vacant world title. Both women jumped at the opportunity.
“I was excited. I train hard period, world title or not, I train hard,” says Luna who trains in Duarte. “Ideally it’s not how you expect to go into a world title fight. Part of being an athlete is taking what’s thrown at you. Basketball players getting a jammed finger and they still play. You have to adjust.”
Luna is ready to adjust from being a counselor to a world champion.
“My kids are excited any time I fight nearby,” Luna said. “They’ll be there.”
Those same kids will get a good look at counselor Luna’s wild side.
For more information (800) 359-2464.
Fights on television
Thurs. Fox, 11 p.m., Gary Russell (12-0) vs. Lupe De Leon (8-11).
Fri. 8 p.m., Azteca TV, Hernan Marquez (28-2) vs. Charly Valenzuela (19-14-3).
Sat. 8 p.m. Fox TV, Ramon Hirales (14-1-1) vs. Jesus Geles (10-1-1).