World championship titles mean you are the very best in the world.
Few female fighters travel to other countries to pursue a world title quest. Most are resigned to stay in the comforts of home, let alone fight in another state or city.
Not San Antonio’s Celina “The Sweetheart” Salazar.
The Texas bantamweight has traveled to Costa Rica, Mexico and the boxing Mecca of Las Vegas. Now she crosses the border once again but this time there’s a huge golden carrot in front of her.
Salazar (6-1-2), the number one ranked American bantamweight, meets WBC bantamweight world titlist Yazmin “La Rusita” Rivas (31-8, 9 Kos) this Saturday, March 14, at Auditorio Municipal in Tijuana, Mexico. The world championship is at stake and will be televised on Azteca TV.
“It means I finally have the opportunity I have waited for all of my boxing life. I’ve been training for this for my entire boxing career. I’m at a point I was determined to get to and now that this opportunity is here I won’t let it go to waste,” said Salazar, 26, who last fought and won in Costa Rica against Mexico’s Maria Elena Villalobos last summer.
In spite of having only 9 pro fights, four were against former world champions, including a dominant win over Philippine’s Ana “The Hurricane” Julaton in August 2013. The fight took place in front of the late WBC president Jose Sulaiman, who passed away last year. Salazar (pictured above left, against Julaton, right) has proven to be quite capable of fighting young or experienced veterans in the boxing ring.
“It doesn’t mean much. I don’t have many fights cause I’ve always had a hard time finding women to step in the ring with me,” Salazar said of her lack of fights under her belt. “Anyone who has seen me fight knows exactly what I bring to the table. I come to fight.”
Rivas, 27, defeated Germany’s Alesia Graf for the WBC title in June 2014, and defended it successfully against Australia’s Susie Ramadan this last October. She also formerly held the IBF version of the title that she grabbed by defeating Ramadan in 2011. The native of Torreon, Mexico has proven to be the cream of Mexico’s bantamweight crop.
“Styles make fights. My job as a professional is to fight who they put in front of me. That’s all I worry about. I let my team take care of everything else,” said Salazar, who expects another rugged encounter. “My trainer and I know who I am as a boxer. I let my opponents adjust to my style. The only difference for this fight is that I’ll be doing what I’ve always done, better.”
Salazar has only one loss on her resume and that was against Melinda “La Maravilla” Cooper a veteran and feared fighter from Las Vegas. Of all the bantamweights or super bantamweights in the world, the girl from San Antonio was the only one willing to face the speedy bantamweight.
Both are now signed with Arqangel Promotions, a management group based in Southern California. The reason the group signed Salazar was the incredible performance she gave against Cooper in Las Vegas back in September 2012. After six furious back and forth rounds Cooper won by majority decision but Salazar made a strong impression on everyone at the Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel Casino.
Katherine Rodriguez, an Arqangel spokesperson, said they immediately noticed her fighting spirit.
“What impresses me about Celina is her power and she is not afraid to fight a tough fight against whoever,” said Rodriguez, a former amateur standout boxer. “When she accepted the fight against Melinda Cooper, I knew right away she has a heart of a true fighter because Melinda Cooper is great fighter and very experienced.”
Her trainer knows all about Salazar’s arsenal.
“Beside her work ethic, the willpower to keep at it despite obstacles in and out of the sport. There’s no stopping her when she makes up her mind,” says boxing trainer Arturo Ramos, who’s worked her entire pro career. “One of the best I’ve ever worked with.”
Salazar, called “the Sweetheart” because of her kindness outside of the boxing ring, will be gunning for the very capable Riva’s world title.
“She has something that I’ve been after my entire career. I’m excited and can’t wait to hear the sound of the bell,” Salazar said.
The Zanfer Promotions fight card begins at 5 p.m.
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