Mariela Banuelos and Marco Valladares stepped into Fresno’s Aleman Gym on Saturday racked with nerves as they prepared for the first boxing match of their amateur careers. The two fighters tapped into more than three years of training to defeat their respective opponents via decision, becoming the latest fighters from Delhi Boxing Club to win in their amateur debuts.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Valladares said. “It took a while for it to hit me.”
“I was happy and excited,” Banuelos said. “I’ve been working in the gym for three years so it was an accomplishment.”
Fifteen-year-old Valladares defeated Farmville’s Jesus Vidana during their three-round, 120 pound bout with a mixture of speed and combination punches. The first two rounds clearly belonged to Valladares who stunned Vidana midway through the second round with a flurry of punches while the third round was split between the two.
“Going into the fight, I was real nervous,” Valladares said. “I didn’t know how different it would be from sparring. I found out it was a lot more tiring.”
Seventeen-year-old Banuelos has added pressure to her fight as she took on 25-year-old Shannon Bettencourt in the 140 pound division.
“I was nervous and a little scared because she was older and looked bigger and stronger,” Banuelos said. “After the first punch I felt comfortable though. Then she stopped landing, so I started to feel real confident.”
Banuelos jumped on Bettencourt early, nearly knocking her to the canvas in the first round with a three punch combo that ended with a left hook. Banuelos continued to pressure her opponent with steady strikes and combinations and claimed all three rounds despite gassing out in the final round.
“I learned that I need to listen to my coach more and that running is real important,” Banuelos said.
Saturday was the first step in what both fighters hope will be long careers. Banuelos plans on competing in the Girls Golden Gloves and eventually earning a college scholarship while Valladares is focused on becoming a professional boxer. Banuelos is currently looking for future opponents. Valladares will fight again on Saturday in San Jose; his opponent has yet to be determined.