The hometown kid is now internationally known.
The boxing prodigy is now a world youth amateur champion.
Iyana Roxanie Verduzco, aka “Right Hook Roxy,” no longer belongs to just her San Fernando Valley fanbase. Not after etching her name and reputation a little deeper into the minds of boxing aficionados, and the pages of pugilistic record books.
When Verduzco left for Budapest, Hungary on Aug. 18 for the International Boxing Association (AIBA) Youth Women’s and Men’s World Championships, she was primarily defined as being the youngest member of the American team. She came back a gold medalist in the Women’s Youth Bantamweight division (54kg or 119-pounds) after defeating Aizada Yeslyamgali of Kazakhstan in the final.
The AIBA championships were held over 11 days in Duna Arena in Budapest, Hungary, from Aug. 21-31, with more than 300 male and female bouts taking place.
Verduzco is one of 20 new youth World Champions representing nine different nations. Also winning gold medals for the USA team were Asa Stevens of Waianae, Hawaii (men’s flyweight), and Heaven Garcia of El Monte (women’s flyweight).
“World champion.” Verduzco 16, repeats the words with a shy smile.
“It still really hasn’t kicked in that I’m a world champion. I still feel like I won a national tournament. But I’m a world champion now. That’s something I can say. Number one in the world (in her weight class). It feels good.”
It’s a designation she’s earned. Verduzco did have one bye, but then waded through three tough fights in route to winning her championship. Although she won all three fights by decision on the judges’ cards — 5-0 over Michidmaa Erdenedalai of Mongolia, 4-1 over Aycan Guldagi of Turkey and 4-1 over Yeslyamgali — she also took her share of blows from the other fighters. Yeslyamgali bloodied Verduzco’s nose in the final.
For her first foray into international competition, Verduzco could not have gotten a better introduction, or better outcome.
“I really thought [Yeslyamgali] was one of the toughest fights,” Verduzco said of the title bout. “But I also felt the first girl I fought (Erdenedalai) was the strongest girl I’ve ever fought.”
The world championship has put an exclamation point on Verduzco’s 2018 amateur boxing season that so far has stretched into 15 fights. Other notable victories this year include winning at the Junior Olympic National Championships in Charleston, West Virginia, and at the American Confederation Women’s Youth Boxing Championships in Colorado Springs, Colo.
There are still more contests before the year ends — the 2018 Eastern Elite Qualifier and Regional Champions tournament in Tennessee in October, and the USA’s 2018 Elite And Youth National Championships in Salt Lake City in December to maintain her standing on the USA national youth team, where she is ranked number one in her weight class.
She is invigorated by the increased workload. “It’s gotten better since I was little,” she said. “Before you’d fight maybe once a year,” if there was no one else qualified in her weight division.
Her increased schedule is also directed toward making the USA Olympic boxing team in 2020. She’ll have two qualifying opportunities next year in October and December.
“I only have two chances to make the team because I’m barely turning 18,” Verduzco said.
In order to accommodate Verduzco’s pursuit, Gloria Mosquera — her mother and co-trainer, along with Mosquera’s husband Rodrigo — removed her from San Fernando High School in the 2017 spring semester and is homeschooling her. That will continue this fall, although Verduzco is set upon returning to San Fernando High for her senior year because she wants to graduate with her class.
In winning the AIBA title, Verduzco can now boast of an amateur overall record of 80 wins, four losses and no draws.
“She hasn’t lost since she was nine years old. But the losses in the amateurs don’t matter (the same as they do the pros),” Gloria Mosquera said. “In the amateurs, you can win the fight but lose the judges, so to speak. It’s not your record, it’s your ranking that matters in the amateurs. That’s important to know.”
For those still squeamish at the idea of girls and women as boxers, the sport is one Verduzco will tell you she was born to do.
She is a fourth generation fighter, with a family lineage that includes uncles Benny “The Jet” Urquidez, a former world champion kickboxer and martial artist, and William “Blinky” Rodriguez, a champion boxer and kickboxer. Her late aunt was Lilly Urquidez Rodriguez, a world champion featherweight fighter and kickboxer who is in the California Boxing Hall of Fame.
Verduzco admitted to sustaining a minor left shoulder injury while in Budapest. Nonetheless, she returned to training this week, and expects to be ready for the October competition in Tennessee.
Her desire to succeed burns fiercely. If anything, the international experience has intensified that desire.
“I realized [for the first time] I was representing the United States in a competition against the world,” Verduzco said. “But I was still hungry for more. I did appreciate it (winning the AIBA youth championship) but I also felt…this was another step.
“I also have a better idea now of what’s out there.”