Underdog Gutierrez on her way to being top dog at Trials

Published 7:00 pm Thursday, December 12, 2019

Lupe Gutierrez (blue) from Sacramento, CO defeats Iyana Verduzoo from Los Angeles, CA during the USA Boxing Olympic Trials at Lake Charles Civic Center in Lake Charles, Louisiana on Wednesday, December 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Lake Charles American Press, Kirk Meche)

Kirk Meche

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Entering the USA Boxing Olympic Trials as the seventh of eight boxers in the female 125-pound weight class has done little to deter Lupe Gutierrez, who has opened the tournament with a pair of wins against higher seeds, including an action-filled decision win over No. 6 Iyana Verduzco Wednesday night at the Lake Charles Civic Center.

Gutierrez, of Sacramento, said the fast pace was to her liking.

“I like to go,” she said. “I stayed on her. She couldn’t fight going back so I just kept the pressure on her.”

The 20-year-old isn’t lacking for confidence despite the low seeding.

“Everyone has got me as the underdog, but the underdog’s coming up,” she said. “This was a good fight and there are great opponents, but it all comes down to who is the best.”

Gutierrez said she has the physical traits and mental make-up to win the tournament.

“I have power, speed and movement. I’m quick to adapt,” she said. “I’m Filipino and Cuban, boxing is in my blood. Watching Manny Pacquiano made me want to fight. It’s a contact sport and I love being in there showing what I can do.”

In the super heavyweight class, No. 4 Jeremiah Milton beat top seed Luis Alvarado.

“I wasn’t worried about seeding coming in here, everybody has to fight everybody,” Milton said. “All year I’ve been getting better and better.”

The win avenged an earlier loss to Alvarado.

“Alvarado has the best motor in the division,” Milton said “I fought him before when I had only 10 fights and was training myself. He won a close decision. I had to learn from that, stay relaxed and be confident in my abilities. I tried to stay on the outside and not let him get inside where he works best. I just took the plan from Anthony Joshua (the heavyweight champion who won a rematch against Andy Ruiz Saturday).”

Winners from Wednesday advance to Friday’s semifinals while the losers have a quick turnaround, fighting elimination bouts tonight against the winners of Tuesday’s fights, which featured fighters who lost in the opening round.

Winners of Friday’s semifinal fights will have to lose twice in the final round to be eliminated, but will need one win to qualify for Team USA and advance to next year’s Continental Qualifier tournament, the final stage of qualification for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The Olympic trial bouts will resume at 6 p.m. today. The national championship tournaments for youth and junior age groups resume at noon today.