Most of us would be thrilled to be able to tell the world once in our lifetime that we are number one.
As an USA Junior Olympics amateur boxer, Iyana “Roxy” Verduzco can claim being “number one” four years running.
Her latest crowning came during the USA Boxing’s 2017 National Junior Olympics competition, held last week at the Charleston Civic Center in Charleston, West VA.
Roxy, 15, won the gold medal in the junior girls’ 114-pound division, first outpointing Jennifer Lozano from Laredo Texas, 4-1, on June 28, then shutting out Mireya Marquez of Milwaukee, Wisc., 5-0, in the final on June 29.
She will compete next in December, fighting in the 2017 USA Boxing Elite and Youth National Championships & Junior Open in Salt Lake City, Utah., where she will attempt to regain a spot on the USA Junior Olympics team.
Even if the bouts in Charleston turned out to be relatively easy, Roxy had some obstacles to overcome.
She had sustained a broken middle right finger after getting it caught in a door eight months ago, which cost her the chance to defend her championship in at a ranking tournament in Kansas City, Mo. She had to forfeit her bout and it cost Roxy the spot she already had on the Junior Olympics team
And she didn’t just battle other boxers in West Virginia. Roxy also battled a fever that her mother, Gloria Mosquera, monitored closely before, after, and between fights.
Mosquera — who at one time owned a gym in San Fernando — is managing to keep up with the expenses for training and traveling, but admits the family could use some help.
“We do a lot of fundraising. A lot of car washes,” Mosquera said. “It’s hard. We tried a ‘GoFundMe’ page, but it wasn’t a big success. We’re hoping to find some sponsors from businesses here in San Fernando.”
Roxy is resuming training and conditioning after a short break. She is also sporting a slightly discolored right eye from a sparing session.
“The first week back’s kinda hard,” she said, smiling.
Roxy, who started sparring at age 2 — “I have videos,” Mosquera said — and started becoming serious about the sport at age 5, continues to build an impressive resume.
Last year in Reno, Nev., she won the pinweight division (101-pounds) gold medal in the USA Boxing’s 2016 Junior Open and Youth National Championships. She was also named the tournament’s Outstanding Junior Female Boxer, and was the youngest member of the 2016 Junior Olympics team.
And she expects to remain top ranked in the age group (now 15-16) of her weight class. Roxy had previously been ranked No. 1 nationally for the age group 13-14, starting at age 12.
The Charleston fights were Roxy’s last junior tournament. She’s going to have to move into to the youth division (ages 19 and under), which means Roxy should expect a higher level of the talent in Salt Lake City. She will be 16 by then, and again one of the younger fighters in her division.
Because of where her birthday (Sept. 30) falls on the USA Boxing calendar, she is often considered a year ahead, meaning Roxy will be 17 in the organization’s eyes when, in fact, she won’t turn 17 until September of 2018.
That would seem to place Roxy an unfair disadvantage. But both Roxy and Mosquera seem nonplussed.
“It’s in the rules for how you can qualify” for the USA team that would compete in a Summer Olympics Games event, “like the next one in 2020 in Tokyo,” Mosquera said.
Roxy gently shrugs her shoulders. “I’m fighting at 19-and-under, but I’d have to be 17-and-older to qualify,” she said.
“But I’m used to being ‘the younger one.’ And (because of her age) I’d have more chances to go to an Olympics, hopefully starting in 2020. I’d like to go to two or three, max.”
Her skills and her lineage give her reasons to feel confident. It’s no surprise that Roxy embraces boxing when you learn about her lineage. She proudly calls herself “a fourth generation fighter in my family” that includes uncles Benny “The Jet” Urquidez, a world champion kickboxer and martial artist, and William “Blinky” Rodriguez, a champion boxer and kickboxer.
There’s also Roxy’s late aunt Lilly Urquidez Rodriguez, a world champion featherweight fighter and kickboxer who is in the California Boxing Hall of Fame. And Mosquera was a standout competitive kickboxer.
The sport of boxing isn’t her whole world. Roxy — who will be starting her junior year at San Fernando High School this fall — wants to be on the girls’ cross-country team. She enjoys the team sport aspect, and it is a way to maintain her stamina and leg strength.
Roxy’s main social media outreach is her boxing page on Instagram — “my user name is “right_hook_roxy,” she said — where folks can follow her exploits. Mosquera said the account is closely monitored. “Mommy’s always looking at that page,” she said.
Roxy admits to having “some interest” in mixed martial arts events like those put on by the Ultimate Fighting Championships. And she is considering a career in law enforcement.
“I want to be a homicide detective,” Roxy said. “I want to do the FBI, too, but that’s a difficult path.”
But she plans to be involved in boxing for a long time.
“I still love what I’m doing,” Roxy said. “There’s times when you get, oh, so tired because of the training and the sacrifices and stuff. But at the end of the day it all pays off.
“I just think of the bigger picture. “I’m doing all this hard work so I can become ‘something when I’m older, and have my life, like, perfect.”
As perfect as a life can be where people throw punches at you.
(Those interested in helping Roxy raise money for the championship bouts in Salt Lake City can contact Mosquera at firstname.lastname@example.org.)