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South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Belinda Laracuente Hungry For Title
By Sharon Robb
January 17, 2003
HOLLYWOOD · It was March 3, 2000 in Las Vegas and Belinda Laracuente, then a 21-year-old young promising boxer from Puerto Rico, was taking on veteran champion Christy Martin.
They had just finished an eight-round, 140-pound title fight and were awaiting the judges' decision.
What Laracuente called "the most exciting moment as a pro boxer" when the bell sounded to end the fight, turned into "the most disheartening" when the judges awarded Martin the controversial majority decision, as judges Carol Castellano and Patricia Jarman-Manning had it 77-75 for Martin, and judge Dave Moretti had it 76-76.
Despite the boos from the audience, Martin, then 31, retained her belt and Laracuente learned a valuable lesson.
"I was certain that I had won by a wide margin," Laracuente said. "I was already thinking of all the doors that my victory over Christy would open for me. I beat up the old lady. She is a joke right now, fighting bums and making money because of her name.
"I was so disappointed when the judges' decision was announced. I felt the judges had made a joke of me in public, that they were laughing at me. I realized at that moment that Christy only had to finish the fight on her feet and she would get the decision. It took me a while to get over that fight. I was nobody, and sometimes boxing can be political when you are a nobody.
"It was a huge setback. ... It hurt my career. Had I won, there would have been no Christy Martin, and I would have been the top fighter around."
Though she had a handful of fights afterward, including another loss to a lesser-name opponent Karla Redo "where the real Belinda simply never showed up," according to then trainer David Marks, Laracuente was never quite the same in the ring.
Eventually, she walked away from boxing.
Nearly three years later and many more years wiser, the 23-year-old Laracuente (18-5-1, 9 KOs) continues her comeback against Denver's Jennae Romero in a non-title fight Saturday night during the Backyard Brawl pro card at Seminole Okalee Native Village. The 135-pounder's last fight was in August, an eight-round unanimous decision.
Also featured on the Seminole Casinos/Warrior's Boxing card: the 12-round IBA bantamweight title bout between Vernie Torres and Julio Coronell; former nine-time world champion Hector "Macho" Camacho coming out of semi-retirement to face Otilio Villareal; and the pro debut of former Davie PAL state champion Terry Moore.
For Laracuente, who lives in Miami, the fight will be a tune-up for an eventual showdown with WIBA champion Lucia Rijker and perhaps a rematch with Martin (43-2-2, 31 KOs), according to trainer Jessie Robinson of Warrior's Gym in Hollywood, where Laracuente trains.
"I am starting all over, from bottom to the top, so I can bring them all down again," Laracuente said. "I am putting the pieces back together.