Amaris Quintana to face Katarina De La Cruz at the Sheraton, Thursday night

Amaris "La Reina" Quintana poses for a photo at a recent weigh-in at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in San Diego. Photo: Jim Wyatt

If you’ve ever seen the happy go lucky Amaris Quintana on the street, you’d never figure she’s a professional boxer. Sure, she’s confident, but she’s also quiet, the polite listener and never out spoken. She comes from a loving family that supports her in whatever she does. That doesn’t mean that Mom and Pop don’t cringe every time they see their daughter get walloped in the ring.

On April 30, it will be exactly two years since she began her pro-boxing career at the tender age of 19. On that late April day, she won an unanimous decision over Gloria Salas of Riverside, Ca. Twice she gave Salas an opportunity to avenge the loss, and twice more Quintana came out victorious.

Thursday, she’ll be back in action going for win number five as one of the headliners on a Bobby D Presents in association with Jorge Marron Productions Boxing Show at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in San Diego. Her opponent will be the 36-year-old Katarina De La Cruz (2-6-1) from the mean streets of Los Angeles.


Even while pregnant with her daughter, Rafaella, Katarina De La Cruz went to the gym to work out with her coach Ben Lira. Photo: Michele Chong

What do we know about De La Cruz? The veteran of nine fights appears to be recommitted to boxing and won her last two matches. The mother of four, Rafaella, Anthony, Ole and Aiszellyn, has overcome a lifetime of trials and tribulations. She’s been a juvenile delinquent, a gang banger, spent time in jail and on the streets, been a part-time model, an International kickboxer and now for the last five years a professional-boxer under the tutelage of California Boxing Hall of Fame trainer Ben Lira at his South El Monte Gym.

Ever since her first fight, Quintana (4 wins, 0 losses and 2 draws) has made herself available to the promoters and matchmakers who can use her services. In other words, she wants to remain active and get better and better at the sport she loves. Finding a female opponent can been difficult as they have a history of pulling out of a match at the last moment. Countless times she prepared for a rival only to have them come up with some lame excuse. From bad hair day to a broken nail, they don’t seem to be as dedicated as she is.

After a grueling workout, Amaris Quintana poses for a photo with her longtime coach David Gutierrez. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Since her weight rarely fluctuates (she now weighs 108 pounds), Quintana is considered a natural, junior flyweight. Her last bout was on January 28, at the very same Sheraton Hotel against Blanca Raymundo of San Bernardino, CA. Even though Raymundo was taller and more like a super flyweight, Quintana dominated the match. Thursday’s opponent, De La Cruz, is also bigger and fought the majority of her fights as a bantamweight (115-118 pounds).

David Gutierrez and his dad, Max, coach Quintana. The same David Gutierrez who’s considered the best boxer to ever come out of the South Bay. As an amateur, he won regional, state and national titles, including the National Junior Olympics in 1981 and the U. S. Western Olympic Trials in 1984. In the Olympic Trials, he came very close to defeating the eventual gold medalist, the former world welterweight champion Mark Breland.

Gutierrez’s undefeated pro career (17-0-1, 9 KOs) ended prematurely after a severe neck injury. In his after-boxing life, Gutierrez became a practicing lawyer. Along with his father, he now trains and advises young boxers. His younger brother, James Parison, by adoption, is now a professional with a record of 13-1-0, 4 KOs. Parison is just one of many talented boxers training at the gym.

Gutierrez, along with his dad, have tried to get Quintana to move more and work the different angles. She tends to be a toe-to-toe, in-your-face brawler. Because she loves to train, she’s always ready for the next fight at a moment’s notice.

“My responsibility is to keep my opponent at a distance,” said Quintana at our meeting at the Gutierrez gym. “And not let them get inside or take me to the ropes. If I keep moving and controlling the tempo of the fight, I’m home free. My stiff jab and more accurate punches will dominate. I like to use my reach advantage and keep an opponent in the middle of the ring.”

Comments from fans and other coaches:

“I bring my daughter to her fights because many of her fights are like boxing clinics for young girls who want to enter the sport. The amazing thing about Quintana is her conditioning. She always looks like she’s ready to go many more rounds.”

“In most of her fights she controls the action with her quick in-and-out and lateral movement. She shows excellent footwork and balance and an ability to deliver fast, straight and accurate combinations.”

Who does Quintana have on her radar?

Yesica Patricia Bopp (14-0-0, 5 KOs) of Wilde, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Carina Moreno (21-3-0, 6 KOs) of Watsonville, CA., Hollie Dunaway (23-9-1, 10 KOs) of Las Vegas, Nevada, Naomi Togashi (8-0-1, 4 KOs) Tokyo, Japan, Nanako Kikuchi (12-4-1, 5 KOs) Tokyo, Japan, Esmeralda Moreno (17-6-0, 7 KOs) of Mexico City, Irma Sanchez (19-4-1, 5 KOs) of Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, Ju-Hee Kim (14-1-1, 6 KOs) of Seoul, South Korea, Keisher McLeod-Wells (4-1-0, 1 KO) of Brooklyn, N.Y. and last, but not least, Melissa McMorrow (4-2-3, 0 KO) of San Carlos, Ca. who is fresh off her loss to Keisher McLeod-Wells at BB Kings Blues Club in New York City.

The last time Quintana faced McMorrow, the fight ended in a draw, a repeat of an earlier meeting. While Quintana kept landing the big shots from the outside, McMorrow remained small, patient and kept boring in with her short rights and lefts. Both of their matches ended up being classics.

Also take note, April 16, Jackie “the Azteca Princess” Nava (24-3-2,11 KOs) of Tijuana will go against Ana Maria Torres (24-3-2, 14 KOs) of Mexico City at the World Trade Center, Boca del Rio Veracruz, Mexico, in a super bantamweight title fight being build as “Queens at War” for the bragging rights of best ever Mexican female boxer.


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