Sandra Tovar began her amateur boxing career at the tender age of 10. Just four years later, she’s now a national champion after her first place finish in the Junior Female 110 pound division at the Elite and Youth National Championships and Junior Open in Kansas City, Missouri on Friday.
“All the hard work I’ve been doing, it paid off at the most perfect time,” Tovar said.
Having finished third at the USA Boxing Junior Olympic and Prep National Championships as part of the 101 pound division in 2015 and the 106 pound division in 2016, Tovar (23-5) entered the six-day tournament at the KCI Expo Center last week to compete at 110 pounds for the first time in her career. Part of a three-person bracket that included Mayra Ruiz of Buena Park and Destiny Diaz of Las Vegas, Tovar received a first-round bye and was able to scout her competition ahead of her championship bout that saw her beat Ruiz via decision to capture her first major tournament championship.
“It was an advantage because I was able to see what she would do,” Tovar said of Ruiz. “When she fought Destiny she pretty much put everything out, so I was able to see everything.”
What Tovar saw was a fighter who liked to push forward and initiate the fight, spurring the Turlocker to implement a strategy that turned Ruiz’ strengths against her.
“[I decided to] keep her on the outside and go forward instead. A lot of boxers who go forward, they can’t fight backing up,” Tovar said of her strategy. “Whenever she tried to come in I’d throw the one-two and catch her.”
The win secured Tovar a spot with on the 2017 national team and an opportunity to train at the USA Boxing facilities in Colorado Springs, Colorado to prepare for the 2017 USA Boxing Junior Olympic and Prep National Championships.
“It felt really good because it was my first championship fight and it was a really big one to win,” Tovar said. “Now, from this, I’ll have to keep working harder to keep it up.”
Tovar, who represents the Stanislaus Police Activities League and runs cross country and track at Turlock High, believes her title as number one in the nation is the first major step towards her ultimate goal of qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and hopes her second step will come next year with a tournament win in West Virginia at the 2017 USA Boxing Junior Olympic and Prep National Championships.