It was an amazing, decorated career in youth amateur boxing for San Fernando resident Iyana Roxonie Verduzco. But it’s over.
The “youth boxing” part, anyway.
Now “Right Hook Roxy,” who turned 18 on Monday, Sept. 30, will attempt a big step up in class.
This weekend, the young bantamweight will travel to Columbus, Ohio for the 2019 Elite Qualifier and Regional Open, and hopes it’s a start toward fulfilling a dream — making the USA Women’s Boxing Team.
The competition in Columbus, which begins Oct. 7, is the third of four qualifiers offered by USA Boxing to determine the candidates in each weight class for the Olympic team that competes next summer at the 2020 Games in Tokyo, Japan.
If Verduzco finishes in the top two in her weight class, she earns a spot in those upcoming trials. If unsuccessful, she would have one final chance to quality next month in Oxnard.
The Olympic boxing trials will be held in December, in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The top eight fighters in each weight class who emerge from the four qualifiers will battle to make the Olympic team.
Verduzco could not compete in the qualifying events — the first two were held last December and in March — until she turned 18. She will be one of the youngest fighters in Columbus, if not the youngest.
But all she wants is a chance. And she’s earned it.
“It feels…not nerve-wracking but a little anxious,” Verduzco told the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol upon her return to the US. “But I’m also ready for this qualifier.”
Even though she will now battle adult women as opposed to fellow teens like herself, Verduzco is a seasoned fighter. As a member of the USA Boxing program, she has won 10 national, and three international belts and medals since 2013, and has consistently been ranked No. 1 in her weight class.
Her latest triumph came at the 2019 International Silesian Women’s Championships held in Gliwice, Poland in September. Verduzo dominated two fighters — getting a second round stoppage against Lena Szyrqinska in the semi-final, and the following day registering a 5-0 decision against Izabela Rozkoszek — for the gold medal.
“The first fight…I hadn’t fought since March — just sparring — so I was a little rusty. But I felt I was back after the first round,” Verduzco said. “My last fight I was more comfortable.”
Verduzco has graduated from high school, and has put off further education while she immerses herself in her pursuit of becoming an Olympian. Along with the training she receives from her mother Gloria Mosquera, a former kickboxer, Verduzco has been receiving instruction from noted world-class trainer Freddie Roach, who’s coached some of the best pro fighters in history including professional world champions, Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, and Julio César Chavez.
“I’ve known him since I was 6-years-old. He’s known me my whole life. And he’s worked with Pacquiao, who’s a lefty like me. Freddie is a perfectionist with left-handers,” Verduzco said.
Mosquero says she can watch Verduzco box dispassionately as a trainer, but the “mom” side of her stirs up different emotions.
“The training part of it…we have our ways of communicating when it’s time to train,” Mosquero said. “Being ‘Mom’ can make it a little difficult at times; I have to watch everything she eats, I know what’s out there. I don’t have to worry about homework anymore, thank God.”
Verduzco has no illusions of how things will turn out in Columbus. But she believes she is ready — at least as ready as she can be at this point in her career.
“Boxing has always been serious to me. But I am training harder now because this is the next level,” Verduzco said. “I have sparred with older women, trained with older women and boys. I feel I have some sense of [what awaits her].”
Hopefully, it’s a ticket to the Olympic trials.