Celina Salazar No Longer Underdog After Beating Julaton

By David A. Avila 

CANCUN, MEXICO-Celina “The Sweetheart” Salazar proved she was not the underdog with a dominating performance against former world champion Ana “The Hurricane” Julaton in the Mexican resort.

A literally steaming hot arena, packed with more than 5,000 vocal fans, saw a relatively newcomer to the world boxing scene win every round. After 10 frames Salazar (5-1-2) left fans surprised at her strength in beating Julaton (12-4-1) with an aggressive and a nonstop attack at the Plaza de Toros.

From the opening round Salazar seemed stronger and quicker to the trigger as she bobbed and weaved under Julaton’s jabs and right hands. Julaton was warned for holding as Salazar attacked with combinations throughout the first round despite the holding.

“I was a little surprised that she held,” said Salazar, 24, who lives in San Antonio, Texas.

Julaton, 33, looked to hold and hit again the second round but was thrown down by Salazar. Both were fighting to control the other. Julaton was warned for putting her head down repeatedly. Salazar took what was given and hit on the body.

“She tried to get rough with me but I was too strong for her,” Salazar said.

For unknown reasons, perhaps from time spent at the Floyd Mayweather gym in Las Vegas, the perky Filipina fighter Julaton sought to hold and hit her way to victory. It was a strange sight to see the former world champion resort to those tactics. She seldom held in previous fights and probably was not accustomed to grappling.

Julaton went down twice in round three, once just to get away from Salazar’s attack and another when trying to evade the Texan’s onslaught. Julaton could not seem to get untracked and could not figure out the bob and weave style of Salazar. Luckily for Julaton neither of her visits to the canvas resulted in a knockdown. On one occasion Julaton was on the ground following a punch. It should have been ruled a knockdown but the referee seemed out of touch.

“We work on that all of the time,” said Arturo Ramos, who trains Salazar and is a former boxer. The grappling by Julaton was a tactic Salazar’s team prepared to handle.

There was lots of holding by Julaton again in the fourth but she scored with a good left hook and a counter right hand. It was her best round but the referee warned Julaton again for ducking her head down. Salazar took advantage and continued hitting whatever was available. At the end of the round the Texan fired a five punch combination and had Julaton against the ropes.

“Whenever she put her head down like that I just put my weight on her,” said the Texas fighter. “We work on that all of the time.”

In round five Salazar was deducted a point for hitting behind the back as Julaton continued to hold and hold. Still, Salazar had a good round as the Filipina just couldn’t fire a combination. If you ever saw Julaton fight before, she usually fires combinations and gets out. The combinations were nonexistent in this fight.

“We watched a lot of tape of Ana,” said Ramos. “We know if she gets hit hard she comes back even harder.”

It was a dominant round six for Salazar who hit Julaton with everything she could. A right hand wobbled the Filipina and she held on and went to the ground. It was ruled a slip again. Salazar attacked the body intensely as Julaton seemed very tired. There was no snap to Julaton’s jab and when she did fire a punch there was no power behind it.

Julaton had gone into overdrive with the holding. She seemed physically spent after the first 30 seconds and held as Salazar attacked. It was an ugly round in the seventh with all of the holding and the fans whistled a lot at the lack of punches.

Not many punches came from Julaton who seemed looking to pot shot in round. She landed a good uppercut but later took a hard overhand right. Salazar was on the attack and Julaton seemed very tired in the ninth round.

Julaton just couldn’t muster any energy as Salazar had her way on the inside with combinations and uppercuts. The former champion tried to make a stand but her legs just couldn’t carry out her commands. Salazar was the stronger fighter as the final round ended.

When Salazar was hoisted by her trainer, the crowd erupted into a loud cheer inside the packed bull ring arena. The fans had no doubt who the winner would be. All three judges scored it 99-91.

“I felt strong,” said Salazar who never seemed to tire from the punch output. It was her first 10-round fight but it didn’t show. “I was a little worried because I had never fought 10 rounds before.”

Julaton was gracious in defeat. The Filipina former world champion just couldn’t get off with her punches.

“She didn’t have trouble making weight,” said Angelo Reyes the next day. “She just didn’t have it. It wasn’t her day.”

No it wasn’t. It was Salazar’s moment to show the boxing world that a new member has been admitted to the female elite. She took the stage and exited an overwhelming winner. The Mexican crowd cheered her loudly.

“My goal was hitting, hitting, always hitting,” said Salazar who fought for the first time outside of the U.S. “After the third round, I knew I could make 10 rounds.”

Salazar’s victory loudly announces to the world she can fight anyone under 126 pounds and not as an underdog.