Seldom does a country flaunt only one world champion and heap its entire adulation to that person.
Costa Ricaâ€™s Hanna Gabriels stands alone as that countryâ€™s only elite athlete who is considered the best in the world. Even President Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica attends Gabrielâ€™s fights along with thousands of other Costa Ricans. Yes, the two most famous Costa Ricans are women.
Calling the tall, athletic Gabriels that countryâ€™s hero is almost modest. In many ways sheâ€™s near goddess status in the Central American country known for beautiful beaches, green countryside and pleasant weather year-round.
Gabriels (12-0-1, 8 KOs) defends her WBO junior middleweight title against experienced veteran Dakota Stone (10-8-5) on Saturday, Jan. 7, at Palacio de los Deportes in Heredia, Costa Rica. It will be televised on www.cdb.tv and www.boxingchannel.tv depending on whether the viewer prefers hearing the telecast in Spanish or English.
Itâ€™s not an easy fight for Gabriels, a former track star whose pure athleticism has allowed her to make the difficult transition from runner to fighter. She possesses natural strength and speed in her punches.
Stone last fought at the Staples Center in Los Angeles against Christy â€śThe Coalminerâ€™s Daughterâ€ť and won by technical knockout when Martin broke her hand and was deemed unable to continue by the referee. Martin protested vehemently because it was the final round and she could have won the fight by decision. Regardless, Stone can take a punch and sheâ€™s extremely strong.
Because of Gabrielâ€™s lack of ring experience, the fight with Stone can be considered her toughest to date and sheâ€™ll need more than pure strength to beat the fighter out of Washington.
Usually the Costa Rican fighter has a size advantage too but in this match Stone has a two to three-inch height advantage. What Gabriels does have is speed of hands and feet and a natural athleticism that enables her to beat more skilled boxers.
Other Fight Chatter
Riversideâ€™s undefeated mixed martial arts fighter Lorenz â€śMonsoonâ€ť Larkin (12-0) fights King Mo Lawal (8-1) in a light heavyweight bout on Saturday Jan. 7, at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Strikeforce fight card will be shown on Showtime.
Dominic Salcido (18-3, 9 KOs), the speedy junior lightweight from Rialto, is scheduled to headline the fight card at Pechanga Casino on Friday Jan. 13. The boxing card is promoted by famed trainer and television analyst Emanuel Steward, who guides Salcido. Also on the card will be junior middleweight prospect Tony Harrison (4-0, 4 KOs) of Michigan. Tickets begin at $35. For more information (888) 732-4264.
Argentinaâ€™s Alejandra Oliveras (23-2-2, 9 KOs) fights Mexicoâ€™s Jessica Villafranca (13-4, 7 KOs) for the vacant WBO featherweight title on Thursday, Jan. 5, in Buenos Aires. Villafranca fought and lost to Moreno Valleyâ€™s Kaliesha West back in August.
WBA featherweight titleholder Celestino Caballero (36-4, 23 KOs) retained the title by unanimous decision over Satoshi Hosono (21-2, 15 KOs) after 12 rounds. Also, WBA junior lightweight titleholder Takashi Uchiyama (18-0, 15 KOs) knocked out Jorge Solis (40-4-2, 29 KOs) at 19 seconds of round 11 to keep the title. Both title bouts took place in Yokohama, Japan on Saturday.
Kazuto Ioka (9-0, 6 KOs) knocked out Thailandâ€™s Yodgoen Tor Chalermchai (8-1, 4 KOs) at 1:38 of round one to retain the WBC mini flyweight world title on Saturday. The match took place in Osaka, Japan.
WBA junior featherweight titleholder Rico Ramos (20-0, 11 KOs) will defend his belt against former Cuban Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux (8-0, 6 KOs) on Friday, Jan. 20 in Las Vegas. Ramos is promoted by Goossen-Tutor Promotions and will make his first defense at the Palms Casino Resort. Tickets are $25 and $50 and available at www.ticketmaster.com.