Every fighter cannot wait for the weigh in to be over. Once you step on the scale and achieve your goal of “Making Weight” everything just seems more official. As in every one of my fights, Robert Ferguson, my nutritionist and conditioning coach has been such a key factor in guiding me to make weight in the safest and healthiest manner.
At the weigh in, both myself and my opponent came in under the contractual weight for the NABF Featherweight Title. So the fight was on. When fighting for a Title you are given two sets of fight gloves each and are required to have a rules meeting with your team and the Supervisor sent by the sanctioning organization. During the “Rules” meeting my opponent’s manager was refusing to fight with the unopened packaged gloves Everlast sent, claiming he had never seen boxing gloves like these used in a fight before…
My team and I were extremely confused as was the NABF representative and NYS Commission. Unless contractually agreed upon it is typically the promoter who provides the gloves. In this case that is exactly what was done. Pugnacious Promotions provided the unopened Everlast fight gloves. I left this issue to be discussed by my manager, my opponent’s manager, the NABF Supervisor and commission. My only job was to focus on myself and my fight.
After the glove issue seemed to have been resolved we each signed our respective copies of the rules and were dismissed to go eat. My team and I went to a local restaurant and while we were there, it was relayed to us that my opponent’s manager was threatening to go home, still complaining about the fight gloves. At this point I thought two things, either this man is a complete unprofessional and is trying to play a mind game or he really does not want to fight. It was later brought to my attention that he had checked out of the hotel with the apparent intention to leave. I just couldn’t make sense of all this nonsense, and chose not to try. I went back to the Hotel with my team and we gathered in the lounge to relax and catch the rest of the Yankee game. Again, my opponent’s manager came into the lounge, bag in hand, claiming he was not happy about the glove situation. At that point I asked him what the problem was. He turned to me and said, “Just remember, you have been stopped before, my girl hasn’t.”
I laughed; at that moment I realized my earlier assumption was correct. We were dealing with an unprofessional who was trying to play mind games. I removed myself from the situation and wished him luck on the fight with a smile.
The day of a fight I am relaxed. I take the day to rest and read which is what I did. Before I knew it we were on our way to the arena. A certain something happens to me when I get to the Arenas where I fight. It’s like a switch goes off, and I am taken to a place. I put all my energy and focus on the one task at hand, to do my best and give it my all.
My team and I (Aroz “Terrific” Gist- trainer, Luigi Olcese-manager, Danny Milano-cut man, Ryan Songalia-publicist) set up in the locker room we were assigned to. My fight was the co main event so we had some time to kill. I relaxed, read and listened to some music before it was time to wrap my hands. That is when everything takes form. The hands get wrapped, the gloves go on and the warming up begins. Before each fight my team and I say a prayer. Thanking God for giving us this opportunity and asking that we perform to the best of our abilities and that both me and my opponent come out safe.
And the entrance music begins…
Entrance music means a lot to a fighter. It has a certain relevance to the fighters training camp, attitude or overall character. As for myself, I usually choose a song that catches my ear during training. Sometimes it’s a newly released song or an older song depending on my mind state leading up to the fight. For this fight I had chosen “Not Afraid” by Eminem. This song talks about struggle and the overcoming of it by facing your fears and knowing what you are destined for. What I love about this song is how the artist includes his audience. He lets them know they are not alone, and offers his support in finding their strength. This was so relevant to me with my fans. Those who come to my fights, follow me on Twitter or Facebook and support me know how much they mean to me. I do my best to reach out to them as much as I can and include them in my journey!
When I had my manager give my music to the DJ he was told that my opponent was coming out to the same song. I had to laugh to myself when he told me. So I chose to come out to the same song I came out to my previous fight, “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z featuring one of my all time favorite female artists, Alicia Keys. This song is relevant to me for obvious reasons, I am very PROUD to be from New York!
Entering the ring for a fight is sort of like a roller coaster ride. When you are climbing to the first drop of the roller coaster you get this feeling in your stomach, sort of like anticipation. In a fight, that is something like your walk from the locker room to the ring and into the ring. Then just as you hear that first bell sound, that is the first drop on the roller coaster ride. That is when the fight begins. The internal and external fight that is. The internal fight is to make sure you are relaxed and mentally clear to hear the instruction given to you between rounds. The external fight is making the adjustments you need to make in order to win.
To be honest as I entered the ring I completely forgot about the drama from the previous day, I even forgot that this fight was for the NABF Title. That just shows where my focus was, on what was right in front of me!
And the NEW……!
The fight was stopped by the referee in the 3rd round after I landed a hook to the body of my opponent. She could not respond or defend herself after that blow. It was in that moment that I had realized that I had just captured my FIRST Championship! I can only tell you that I didn’t know if I wanted to cry, yell, or just drop to the floor in thanks to God for the moment. I think I did all three after looking at my photos following the fight ☺
The best feeling was exiting the ring and having so many of my fans and new supporters come up to me congratulating and hugging me. The best part for me was the looks on the younger fans faces when I smiled at them and stopped to take photos with them. After I cleaned up I came out once again to greet and meet my supporters. I signed a bunch of autographs and took many photos. I even got to chat with some young amateur boxers who came to see the fights.
With all due respect to my opponent, Liliana Martinez, she came to fight. She was also in no way involved with the drama her manager displayed le. ading up to the fight. She conducted herself with the utmost sportsmanship and carried herself with class. She fought a good fight and I left that ring with nothing but respect for her