(MAR 22) Suszannah Warner made an impressive win over Canadian
former amateur champion Noriko Kariya, on Saturday. As a pro,
Kariya was undefeated, with a 3-0 record and managed out of Jersey
City by Arturo Gatti’s team. Warner and Kariya had a 4-round bout
in Atlantic City on Saturday and were the only women on the all-male
Top Rank-promoted fight, head-lined by James Toney and Hasim Rahman.
Warner was considered the “underdog” with a record of 2-3-0 (1KO),
to date, and the crowd pulled for their “local fighter”. What the
crowd and Kariya did not know, was this was Suszannah’s homecoming.
She spent the first six months of her professional career in
Colorado, training at-altitude with the respected Krishna
Wainwright. Between September and February, Warner had fought five
times, including bouts with WIBFA, bantam title-holder Terri Cruz
and outstanding amateur champion, Kaleisha West.
Warner was drawn to Colorado, after attending the US National’s last
year. But after a few months, it became clear that she missed her
home-town. As a New York-based fighter, Suszannah turned heads in
the amateurs. In 2003, she made it to the finals of the Golden
Gloves, after training for just 3 months. In 2004, she won the
prestigious Gloves at the finals in Madison Square Garden; and in
2005, she won the US National’s. Four months later, she turned pro
and committed to working with Wainwright out west.
As a 35 year-old, Warner feels a sense of urgency, about her career,
that many new fighters do not have. In Colorado, everything was
going well. But there was something important missing. She was in
a sport that she loved, but not in a place where she felt at home.
Warner had spent eleven years living as a New Yorker. Previously,
Warner had made attempts to leave the city but always returned.
After five months in Colorado, “The Atlantic City fight came up and
I thought it would be a great opportunity to find the right people
to work with and return to where I belong” says Warner.
She adds, “It was really an act of Destiny”. Her manager had been
tracking the success of ‘Team Shea’ for the past year. A central
force in the Team, Luigi Olcese, has acted as manager/trainer for
Maurean Shea; Ann Marie Saccurato; amateur standout, Angel Bovee;
and a host of very successful pro male fighters. “As a renouned
trainer, and protégé to the legendary Hector Roca, Olcese’s
knowledge of the sport is unquestionable. The team’s solid
connection, combined with their skill, industry presence and strong
record made for little doubt about who to call as the top-choice for
a New York-based trainer”, Warner’s manager states.
Warner began to train with Olcese and Hector Roca, in preparation
for the Atlantic City bout. “It’s astounding when you think about
it. In just a few weeks, Suszannah got acquainted with her new
team; had to make organic, a whole new fighting style; and was able
to take command of the ring, against a New Jersey-based,
celebrity-backed, up-and-coming fighter in Atlantic City. It was an
incredible accomplishment”, adds Warner’s manager.
Actually, it was an accomplishment that Suszannah is quick to credit
to and share with her new team, “This whole experience has been like
a dream. Leading up to it all, I had the opportunity to spar with
Maureen Shea. I was privileged to be on the under-card of two great
Heavy-weights, fighting for the championship, after just six months
in the pros. Brad Goodman and the group at Top Rank were so kind
during the process. Before the fight, I was warmed up by Hector
Roca. Afterwards, I looked to my corner and saw my new trainer,
Luigi Olcese, along with Pasqual [“Tiger”] Rouse. It’s just
Warner now begins a new chapter, in the city she loves and working
with a rock-solid team. With her continued sense of urgency, she
strives to be a “World Champion” in the next year. After three
years in boxing, no one can dispute her progress. Warner has
reached a world-ranking of #9, in just six months as a pro fighter.
Tomorrow, it’s back to the gym with Olcese and the rest of the team;
there is much work ahead. But for today, she takes a moment to
smile at the thought that she can always say she fought on the Toney
v. Rahman card in Atlantic City.