A testimony to how promising the lure of boxing in Tucson can be comes in the form of one of the more active promoters of the sport in this state and in general, Michelle Rosado, who heads Raging Babe Media & Entertainment.
You get the feeling with Rosado in Tucson’s corner boxing here has a fighting chance.
Rosado was dubbed “Raging Babe” by the Phoenix New Times a few years ago after it published a story about her, as a Latina in generally a business dominated by men becoming a very active promoter and ambassador of boxing, helping young fighters in Arizona get their deserved opportunity in the ring.
She hails from Philadelphia and has lived in Phoenix the last 10 years. Despite not being from Tucson and becoming affiliated with boxing here only six years ago — “I fell in love with it from the start,” she said — Rosado is a firm believer that the sport has tremendous value locally.
“I think Tucson is a really good fight town and there is a lot of hidden talent here,” said Rosado. “There’s a lot of good trainers and a lot of good fighters here. They have a lot of experience. They have a lot of amateur background. They don’t have the same opportunity as say fighters from Philly or New York or L.A. or California, where boxing is like a religion there.
“Here it’s like U of A, everything is U of A. I have a glove affair. I call it my glove affair with Tucson. I know there are good fight fans here and good fighters. If you do the right grassroots marketing and you put on good fights, they’ll come.”
Rosado was in Tucson yesterday promoting her latest venture (along with Peltz Boxing) in Tucson — the Guerra de Gallos, “Battle for Tucson,” which is taking place July 21 at the Casino del Sol. The card features five fights with most of the boxers from Tucson, including the main event between junior welterweights Alfonso Olvera and Wilberth Lopez.
The press conference yesterday at a packed Paradiso Lounge at Casino del Sol featured all 10 fighters and some of their coaches.
Rosado said she planned for this event, showcasing Southern Arizona’s talent, to give the boxers a chance to be recognized not only by local fans but also by significant promoters and sponsors.
“The more attention these guys get and the better events we have, that’s when the bigger people come in,” she said. “That’s when television wants to get involved. That’s when bigger sponsors want to get involved.
“That goes to the fighters. They can get paid more. They can fight more. They can stay active. They can compete at another level. If we keep them busy here than they have more opportunities and they become contenders.”
Olvera, originally from Nogales, Sonora, like his opponent Lopez, grew up on the Southside and attended Sunnyside High School. He is coached by Jesse Haro, a longtime boxing fixture in Tucson who was once an amateur and pro fighter here. He runs the Scrap Yard Gym, where Olvera trains.
Haro knows more than anybody the difficulty Tucson boxers go through to get their name on a card locally, which affects their ability to succeed overall. He said big-time promoters, such as Oscar De La Hoya and Top Rank, bring boxers here from out of state “to get wins because they have contracts to fulfill.”
“Some of these big promoters won’t put our guys out there because they care more about getting fights out of the way for their guys against other fighters they have contracts with,” Haro said. “As a boxer from Tucson, you’re sitting in the audience when you should be the guy out there. It’s very discouraging that we have to travel outside of our state to fight boxers that are signed by other promoters.
“You’re fighting other elements as well as the guy in front of you. It is very difficult to get a win. You almost have to get a knockout to win. We’ve fought guys on TV, and literally, obviously we won but we walked out with nothing more than a draw.”
Incredibly, Olvera will fight professionally for only third time in Tucson and this is Lopez’s first opportunity. Lopez is trained by Gaudencio Zaragoza, who has coached boxers in Arizona the last 15 years.
Events put on by Rosado and “Raging Babe,” such as the “Guerra de Gallos,” gives Tucson-area fighters the opportunity to overcome this stigma and provide the larger promoters, such as De La Hoya and Top Rank, the ability to view what happens on July 21 and notice what Tucson has to offer in the ring.
“It’s extremely important for the fighters to put on a good show,” Rosado said. “Let’s just say there’s a top matchmaker that comes here or a top promoter comes here. They might see something they like.
“The boxers have to perform. They have to showcase their talent. Most of the promoters want ability and marketability, so these guys have to put on a good show for their city, for themselves. You just never know. A lot can come from staying busy in your backyard.”
Rosado’s work has provided Tucson-area boxers the opportunity to not compete in other fighters’ backyards and deal with their opponents’ home crowds and official.
Olvera (10-4-1, 4 KOs) and Lopez (21-9, 15 KOs) might be in the main event, but the whole evening really is not to showcase only them in front of what will be likely be a capacity crowd mostly comprised of family and friends of all the boxers.
“They all want to fight here,” Rosado said. “They don’t get to fight here. They have to go to Mexico. They have to go to California. They’ve got to fight on the (Floyd) Mayweather card (in Las Vegas).
“When I approached them, they were like, ‘Where do I sign?’ Half of them didn’t even ask me what they are going to make. They didn’t even ask me how many rounds they were going to fight. They were just happy to fight at home. There was actually five, six, seven other guys who were begging to get on but we’ll have to wait until the next one.”
Also on July 21, junior lightweight Jensen Ramirez (5-2-3, 1 KO) will fight against Sierra Vista’s Jesus Arevalo (2-3), and Tucson junior welterweight Christopher Gonzalez (2-0) will make his return to Tucson after securing his second win in Phoenix earlier this year. He will fight Judas Estrada, whose only pro bout was won by knockout.
Super flyweight Mike Martinez, super middleweight Emmanuel Guajardo, junior middleweight Nicholas Rhoads and flyweight Breenan Macias of Goodyear round out the card.
“I hope this is the start of us being more consistent and staying active with boxing in Tucson,” Rosado said. “I personally would love to do a quarterly show. If we can do shows every four months, that’s realistic.
“You know, it’s hard for a small promoter with the funding and the fighters are selling their tickets, they’re hustling. If we can do a show every three to four months, I mean if July 21 goes well, I’m going to tell them (the casino and the boxers and trainers), ‘Let’s do September, let’s do early October.’ That’s the goal.”
Tickets for “Guerra De Gallos” start at $25, and are available online at Casino del Sol’s Web site, by phone at (520) 333-5150 or at the Casino Del Sol Gift Shop.
The July 21 card begins at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.