Keeping Up With WBO Champion Ana Julaton; Plus Action Heroes
Life for Ana “The Hurricane” Julaton has changed as quickly as San Francisco weather.
No longer does Julaton stay in ramshackle motels near the Sunset Strip, now she travels with a gun strapped former Secret Service agent and resides in a posh guest house reserved for foreign dignitaries and celebrities.
Winning three world championships really changes things.
Julaton (7-2-1) defends the WBO junior featherweight world title against Franchesca Alcanter (18-9-1, 9 KOs) on Friday at Craneway Pavilion in Point Richmond, California. The title fight will be shown on Philippine television and Canadian TV.
One thing that doesn’t change is Julaton’s gracious manners and hospitality. It’s not just relegated to her but the entire team including advisor Angelo Reyes and body guard Glen Mariano. All are focused on the pending world title defense.
On Friday, Julaton has her sights drawn on Kansas prizefighter Alcanter who recently traveled overseas to battle Germany’s Ina Menzer.
“She hurt Menzer,” said Reyes, who studies opponents diligently looking for clues and tendencies like a forensic detective. “Franchesca can be dangerous if you take her lightly.”
Despite only 10 professional bouts, Julaton displays the poise of a prizefighter with 30 or more fights. While working in the boxing ring with famed trainer Freddie Roach, she moves effortlessly and without hesitation. Punches, slips, counters and foot movement flow together smoothly like intricate machinery.
“I think my background in martial arts helps and me being a teacher,” said Julaton, who teaches martial arts when not boxing. “It’s neat to apply it to boxing.”
At the Wild Card Gym the female world champion spars with former men’s world champion Rodel Mayol and current female world champion Rhonda Luna. There are no easy routes taken.
Already she is the second most popular pro fighter in the Philippines. Her whereabouts and sightings by tabloid television are reported almost daily. Her signing with Canadian promoter Allan Tremblay has resulted in her fights being aired on that country’s primary sports network.
“All she has to do is keep winning,” says Reyes.
It’s a lot of pressure for the articulate brunette who’s as comfortable in front of a camera as in fighting and sparring with world champions.
If Julaton gets flustered at all its when she is recognized by fans on the street who flock to her immediately when reality hits. In one recent moment at the Farmer’s Market on Fairfax Avenue a pair of middle aged women tugged her arm to see if she was the boxer.
It’s a familiar occurrence wherever she goes.
Body guard Mariano has already recognized that her fans are every where after two years. Whether in malls, restaurants or just walking in local neighborhoods, the fans come up to her looking for autographs and photos.
“A lot of boxers are not open to meeting people,” Mariano says. “Ana has a soft side.”
But that soft side is not inside a boxing ring.
Julaton’s last fight was a slugfest that resulted in more blood on the canvas than is usually seen. Though the Daly City resident suffered a bad gash she continued to battle it out with equally strong Mexican fighter Maria Villalobos. Julaton won by split decision and captured the fan’s applause with her grittiness and determination.
It’s a major strongpoint and one she uses to help propel the sport of female boxing.
“I feel very lucky that I get to talk about other female fighters,” said Julaton, 30, who is one of the better paid female boxers in the U.S. “There are a lot of great stories. It’s just about getting the word out.”
Meanwhile, her advisor Reyes, works feverishly toward moving Julaton toward greater recognition with possible bouts against other world champions like Argentina’s Marcela Acuna and Mexico’s Jackie Nava.
“It’s just a matter of time,” Reyes says. “She needs to be compensated for the danger.”
After the interview the team gathered their gear, loaded the SUV and the body guard straps on his sidearm. Once more they head out to the gym to work on technique and conditioning.
Some things never change.
Golden Boy Promotions held a press conference for their April 9 pay-per-view date featuring three marquee fights.
Tijuana’s Erik Morales (51-6, 35 KOs) looks to win a fourth weight division world title but first must pass through Argentina’s human Rock of Gibraltar Marcos Maidana (29-2, 27 KOs).
“I know that people are worried for me but I know what I can do,” said Morales at ESPNZone in L.A. Live on Tuesday. The former junior feather, featherweight and junior lightweight world champion fought and won three fights last year.
Also fighting is Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero (28-1-1, 18 KOs) who looks to face perennial warrior Michael Katsidis (27-3, 22 KOs) in a lightweight romp.
“I know he’s a tough fighter and I expect it to be the toughest of my career,” said Guerrero, who is tabbed by several boxing publication’s Pound for Pound list. “Maybe this will be the fight that launches me as an elite fighter.”
Winky Wright (51-5-1, 25 KOs) returns from a two year layoff that he blames on scared fellow elite fighters. But now he faces Britain’s Matthew Macklin (28-2, 19 KOs).
“Hopefully after I win this fight people will be looking at me differently,” said Wright who will be training at Justin Fortune’s Gym. “I want to fight Sergio Martinez for the middleweight title. It would be a great fight.”
The Golden Boy fight card takes place at the MGM Grand on April 9.