5'4" junior bantamweight Monica Lovato is from Española, New Mexico, USA and
lives in Albuquerque. She was born on December 12, 1977 and is the only child of Leonard and Mary Lovato.
As a child she was a tomboy, "I rode horses, got punked by my
older cousin Chris and had a blast. I graduated from the Espanola Valley in 96!
Those years were sooo fun!", she
says. She also watched lots of movies and wanted to be an
actress - but one of her favorite movies was "Rocky" starring Sylvester
Stallone, a sign of things to come for her!
Lovato began boxing after the death of her friend Leroy Quintana in a car crash.
She was living in Albuquerque and her way to work took her past Irene Garcia's
women's boxing club. She eventually went in with the idea of just working out, but within a couple of weeks she had told her father
tat she wanted to take up boxing. "It was an escape. It was a way to get over Leroy's death," she said.
"It was a
distraction from what had happened."
She compiled a 10-2 record as an amateur boxer before turning pro in order to use her
boxing talents to help her disadvantaged home community of Española.
Monica made her professional
boxing debut on February 28, 2004 at the Santa Ana Star Casino in
Bernalillo, New Mexico, winning a four-round unanimous (40-36,40-36,40-36) decision over
fellow debuter LeAnne Villareal of Albuquerque (photo by Chris Cozzone at left)
On June 24, 2004 at the Bren Events Center at the University of California in
Irvine, California, Monica (114 lbs) lost a four-round unanimous
(40-36,39-37,39-37) decision to Julie Rubalcava (5'6", 112¾ lbs) of Westminster,
California who improved to 2-0 with the win. Maria Castillon told WBAN: "The
taller Lovato started off slowly with her southpaw style as
Rubalcalva used her speed to gain the advantage in the first round landing
quick combinations. Lovato seemed too slow for her Orange County opponent and
was hit by right after right by the shorter fighter. The second round saw Lovato turn the fight around with extra
pressure and solid left hand uppercuts to the shorter Rubalcalva who ducked
under most punches in the first round but was getting tagged in the second.
Rubalcalva hurt her right hand in the second round and with an aching
right hand, resorted to her left in the third round and four-punch combinations
to take the momentum back. Though Lovato
landed powerful lefts, they weren’t enough to offset the combinations
Rubalcalva threw and landed. The Westminster fighter began the fourth and final
round with a thudding left hook and a double left hook. Lovato retaliated with a
right-left combination and a double shot of straight lefts. Both fighters fired
their left hands repeatedly while standing toe-to-toe with Rubalcalva landing
slightly more successfully accurate punches."
“I really liked fighting her,” said Rubalcalva who had 10 amateur fights
before turning professional. “I don’t want to make excuses about my hand.
She was a very tough fighter.”
On November 13, 2004 at the Santa Ana Star Casino in Bernalillo, Monica won a
four-round unanimous (40-36,39-37,39-37) decision over Valeria Flores of San
Antonio, Texas. According to reporter Chris Cozzone, "Round One was a
waiting game for Lovato, who let things slip by while Flores bulled forward
throwing rights and lefts. Lovato finished strong, landing a solid left but
Flores’ output gave her the round. Lovato snapped to in the second, letting
Flores push her to the ropes but countering with accurate left hands while
fending off her opponent’s careless flurries. Fighting on the move, Lovato
picked her shots, landing crisp left hands but never moving forward to continue
her attack, even when hurting Flores. In the 4th, Lovato landed her best shot, a
stunning straight hand that put Flores on the floor. Unfortunately, the ref did
not rule it a knockdown for some reason. When the fight resumed, Lovato did not
go for the finish but let Flores recover." Flores fell to 5-2 with the
Monica's debut in her home town was all too short!
© Copyrighted photo by Chris Cozzone
On March 26, 2005 at the High School Gymnasium in her home town of Española, Monica TKO'd debut
fighter Doreen Hilton of Denver, Colorado at 1:52 in the first round. As
by Chris Cozzone, "What Hilton lacked in skills, she had in heart and from
the opening bell, she took the fight to Lovato, landing several shots. Lovato
covered up a bit, found her footing and then unleashed her own shots, putting
Hilton down. To minimize the damage, Hilton’s corner threw in the towel and the
fight was stopped at 1:52, much to Lovato’s disgust."
On June 12, 2005 at the Ohkay Casino on San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico, Monica
knocked out Nancy Bonilla of Puerto Rico just 0:48 into the first round, dropping
Bonilla's record to 2-4.
On February 3, 2006 at the Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, Monica
(117½ lbs) TKO'd Tiffany Wilson (120 lbs) of Moore, Oklahoma, at 0:53 in
the first round, dropping her record to 0-1-1.
It was time for her to raise the level of her competition and on April 1, 2006
at the Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio, Colorado, Monica fought to a six-round split
(60-54,58-56,56-58) decision over Sharon Gaines (117
lbs) of Las Vegas.
Lovato established her jab early in the fight while Gaines relied on her
defense to stay in the fight but took the offensive and backed Lovato to
the ropes with her body attack at the end of the round. In round two, Lovato
landed an overhand right over the top and several body shots to drop Gaines to
the floor. Gaines began to bleed from her nose as she received a protective
standing eight-count. In the third round, Lovato displayed her boxing ability as
she landed her jab consistently. Gaines responded with a hard strong left
hook midway through the round only to find herself on the receiving end of a
Lovato uppercut successive power shots that sent her to the canvas again. In the
fourth, Lovato landed a strong right followed by a left hook and successive
power shots from both hands, at which point referee Kenny Bayless stopped the
fight. Gaines, who was still on her feet, protested the stoppage but Lovato was
declared the victrix by TKO. Gaines fell to 9-6-0 (3 KO's) with the loss.
On May 12, 2006 at the Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada,
Monica (117 lbs) TKO'd Sharon Gaines (116½ lbs) at 1:13 in the fourth round in a
scheduled six rounder. Lovato won with ease in this rematch
and was picking her shots throughout the bout. Gaines was
knocked down twice. Lovato improved to 7-1-0 (4 KO's).
On July 21, 2006 at the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon, California,
Monica (115¼ lbs) won a six-round majority (59-55,58-56,57-57) decision over
Heather Percival (116¼ lbs) of Fontana, California who fell to 8-3. "Heather
Percival was tough and she is a great boxer", said Lovato.. "She’s
constantly moving, so I had to adjust to that which was tough."
Later that year, Lovato was temporarily sidelined by a non-boxing injury (a dog
bite) but she returned to ring competition better than ever in 2007.
On January 27, 2007 Monica (114 lbs) won the NABF Junior Bantamweight title with
an eight-round unanimous (78-74,79-73,79-73) decision over Julie Rubalcava
(112½ lbs), avenging her earlier loss to the Californian, who suffered her first
defeat as a pro boxer.
Monica trades with Carly Batey defending her NABF title
© Copyrighted photo by Chris Cozzone
On April 28, 2007 at the Sky City Casino in Acoma, New Mexico, Monica (114½ lbs)
had her hands full earning an eight-round split (79-73,79-73,75-77) decision
over previously undefeated British-born Carly Batey (5'4", 112½ lbs) of San
Diego, California in a defense of her NABF title. The hard-charging Batey fell
to 2-1-2 with the loss.
videos of this fight).
On July 28, 2007 again at the Sky City Casino in Acoma, New Mexico, Monica (116
lbs) was strongly tested by former world champion Mariana
Juarez (111 lbs) of Mexico, in a ten-rounder for the IBA Bantamweight title.
Lovato came away with a
decision and a new belt after a hard-fought battle.
to Chris Cozzone of NewMexicoBoxing.com, "Juarez established an
early lead in the first rounds. Lovato, usually a slow starter, proved otherwise
this time around, although a successful counter-punching aggression did not fall
into place until round three. In the meantime, Juarez’s straight-forward
aggression and heat-seeking missile of a straight right hand found its mark
enough times to warrant the first two stanzas. Lovato had her figured out in the
third, however, and the fight turned into a series of heated exchanges of the
mauling, brawling variety. Lovato rough-handled Juarez, neutralizing her right
hand and matching the Mexican’s straight-forward movement, in the third. In
round four, the Espanola southpaw started to find a home for her big left hands.
The fifth was close, Juarez’s relentless aggression an even match for Lovato’s
rapid counter-punching combinations that, more often than not, took place
against the ropes. ... By round six, Lovato ... had control of the round and was
increasingly moving forward with aggression rather than wait to counter Juarez,
who was unable to land that right with the success she had in the early rounds.
Still aggressive, but somewhat neutralized, Juarez lost both battles—the inside
exchanges and mauling, plus the outside jabbing with Lovato’s big left hands—to
the Espanolan. Juarez’s frustration was evident in the eighth when she
resorted to a foul here and there, but the blazing exchanges started to turn the
fight back around. Lovato took a breather in the ninth while Juarez loaded
up on left hooks, taking the round, but in the final chapter, despite a ruthless
attempt to close the show, Lovato finished strong, matching Juarez’s pressure
with clean left hands and superior footwork."
Juarez fell to 14-5-3 (8 KOs) while Lovato improved her record to 11-1-0 (4
KOs). (See Youtube
of this fight).
On February 29, 2008 at Fantasia
Night Club in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Monica barely won an eight-round
decision over Crystal Hoy
of Las Vegas. Lovato controlled the first half of the fight with her boxing
skills but then began to tire and was drawn into a brawl with the previously
unbeaten Hoy. She was knocked down twice in the seventh round and barely
survived the eighth and appeared lucky to escape with a decision.
According to Chris Cozzone of NewMexicoBoxing.com, in the seventh: "From
out of the blue, Hoy planted a right hand on Lovato’s jaw, crumpling the
champion to the canvas for the first time in her career. Looking dazed and her
legs going every which way, Lovato beat the count but Hoy was all over her.
Boom! Lovato hit the canvas again, soon after, this time from a monstrous left
hook. Barely able to stand, and with Referee Burke a breath away from calling
this fight over, Lovato sucked it up and, somehow, survived the round, but was
dead on her feet when the merciful bell rang. Round eight was all about
survival. Hoy was all over Lovato, plastering her with bombs, any one of which
could have ended the fight. Somehow, Lovato stayed on her feet for what could
have easily been scored 10-8, despite the lack of a knockdown."
The two were fighting for
the NABF Junior Bantamweigh title. Lovato moved to
12-1-0 (4 KOs) while Hoy fell to 3-1-2 (2 KO's).
Monica tries to be a positive role
model for kids in New Mexico and to bring hope and
inspiration to Latino youth by motivating them to be
ambitious, committed and disciplined.
SantaFeNewMexican.com, one quarter of Española residents live below the poverty
line and in 2006, the drug overdose death rate in the Española Valley was
approximately five times the national average. In 2006, Lovato and
Española's recreation director Nannette Smith started a youth boxing program
at the Lucero Center aimed at giving kids a productive way to expend their energy. The program raises
money for uniforms, equipment, and travel money. Monica donates her time, takes kids to competitions, trains them, goes out to eat with them, and
does as much for them as she can. Several hundred children have
participated in the program and as of September 2007 seven were officially
competing as amateurs.
"When I walk into the school and all the kids run up to me and want to get my
autograph ... I can do something for my community and for my town and let kids
know that they can achieve any goal they want."
Monica's work with kids has earned her recognition as a
Between work, school (she is studying for a degree in exercise science), her
boxing training and her work with the youth boxing program, Monica is often on the go
from as early as 3 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Her other activities include mountain
biking, fishing and hiking.) She trains in Santa Fe, New Mexico with Al Lovato (no relative,
but also from the Española area), who says Monica is "a strong hitter,
a very powerful puncher, and she learnt a lot about boxing since she
turned pro." He adds that "I understand where she is coming
from. She is a very determined person. She is so determined to make it."
Other Monica Lovato links
To check out fight reports, complete up-to-date boxing records, with huge digital photos you can go to
the WBAN Records Member Site
Page last updated:
Friday, 09 August 2013