The hallway over the stone stairway
leading up to Gleasons Gym was being painted last week and I would
have bet some serious money that one of the resident wits had
already likened putting paint on any part of that ancient
on-the-waterfront building to putting a patch on the Titanic. Inside
the gym it was business as usual and in Gleasons that business is
boxing. Suszannah Warner was going about shadow boxing, in the main
ring, stopping periodically to listen to comments and instruction
from her trainer, Hector Roca.
Warner is currently training for an eight round NABF Atomweight
 title bout against Yvonne Caples on December 8, promoted by
Star Boxing, at the Paradise Theater on the Grand Concourse in the
Bronx, NY. It's a major step up for Warner, who currently has a 5-3
record, her lone, significant win, thus far, being a majority
decision over Noriko Kariya in March. Warner has never been beyond
four rounds in her career, while Caples, a veteran of twenty bouts,
has been the eight round distance, or beyond, nine times.
If the Atomweight designation gives you pause, it's an innovation of
the NABF. Jill Diamond, the head of the NABF Female Divison,
explains, "Rex Walker, and the NABF, is very excited about this
fight; it's the first Atomweight title bout we've had. We added the
weight class for the same reason the male division was split into
Heavyweight and Super Heavy. There are some lean, powerful women
who've had trouble against slightly heavier fighters and this [Atomweight]
division accommodates those lighter fighters. This fight is coming
together as a result of Allison Emmert [Warner's manager], who
fought the battle outside the ring to make it happen."
As far as the upcoming bout, Warner is the first to admit that, from
an experience standpoint, the bout is: Advanatage:Caples. But she
adds, "I've always been a person who believes that when opportunity
knocks, you step up, no matter how it looks 'on paper' ."
Additionally, she points out that she doesn't have to look far for
examples that such a strategy can work: "Two New York fighters,
Melissa Hernandez and Ann Marie Saccurato, both took 'big fights'
when the opportunity came. Melissa had a chance to fight Kelsey
Jeffries, in her [Hernandez] fourth bout, and she didn't hesitate
for a moment. She went out there when no one thought she had a
chance against a very good fighter, who had over forty bouts, and
Melissa came back with a draw. My teammate, Ann Marie, did the same
thing in her fourth fight, taking on a more experienced Eliza Olson
and she also surprised everyone, but herself, holding Olson to a
In addition to a feeling of "Destiny," which is also Warner's
nickname, Suszannah has a distinguished amateur background. She was
the New York Golden Gloves champ in 2004 and won a couple of Silver
Gloves in ' 03 and ' 05 and captured the U. S. National title in '
05, all at 106 pounds and all in just over two years in the sport.
She turned "pro" in September 2005 and had her first five fights
"out west". "I thought the opportunity might be better out there,"
Warner recalls, "but I was wrong. I came back to New York, pretty
quickly. In New York, I have a team that works closely to support
each other and that has made everything a lot better. I have a great
training team, both Hector [Roca] and Luigi Olcese have shown me not
only the 'hows' of boxing, they've also made sure I understand the
Warner, likewise, has a sense of comfort fighting at what she feels
is her best weight. "When I started out, I went up as high as 119
and I just didn't feel right, I was sluggish and felt heavy. On the
other hand, I feel very comfortable at 102 and I have no trouble
making weight. In fact, I usually have more trouble adding weight."
Something you notice, right away, about Warner, is that she seems
considerably taller than her listed 5' 5". Suszannah explains, "I
guess it's my slender build, it probably makes me look taller and
everyone is surprised when I tell them my height." It's her
shoulders and arms, however, that are anything but slender, well
muscled and toned. "I'm considered to be a boxer," says Warner, "but
I can hit, so I suppose you can label me a boxer/puncher."
All that will be on display on December 8 in one of the grand old
movie theaters on a grand old avenue in the Bronx. "What a great
place to stage a boxing card," Warner raves, talking about the
Paradise Theater. "I was blown away when I walked into that theater,
it's beautiful, the type of place that simply isn't built, today.
Joe DiGuardia and Star Boxing made a great choice of a venue for a
boxing card and I'm really happy they included me as one of the
fighters." Warner is originally from England, she's been in the
United States for 12 years, thus, she knows good architecture when
she sees it. She also knows opportunity when she sees and December
8, at the Paradise Theater, is a big opportunity. "Sure I'm
nervous," Warner admits, "but it's a good nervous. I know I'm ready.
I've had great preparation and I'm confident. Also, my older brother
is flying over from England for the bout. So in addition to all the
support I already have, it will be wonderful to have him here."
Gleasons' old hallway will soon have a new paint job and, on
December 8, the NABF will have it's first Atomweight title holder.
And if "Destiny" has her way, that title belt will be going up those
stone stairs to the gym and Suszannah Warner might even take a
moment to seek out Melissa Hernandez and Ann Marie Saccurato and