Fresh Faces: Selina Barrios
By Felipe Leon
In female boxing like in a life, there is long road and a short one. Many say taking shortcuts in life is not the way to go but in boxing, it just proves how hard you have worked in the past and the talent you bring into the ring. That happens to be the case for 24 year old Selina Barrios (3-0, 1KO) of San Antonio, Texas. With only two pro bouts she captured the vacant NABF lightweight title in her third fight this past December 29th against the talented Lisa Porter.
The regional title, her first, came after a long road inside boxing gyms, amateur tournaments and sacrifice that began at the age of nine. Originally from Racine, Wisconsin, her family, father, mother and younger brother Mario, moved to Texas to be closer to her grandmother. Once there, her once-amateur fighter father took both she and her brother to a boxing gym.
“Honestly, I liked it,” Barrios said with a smile. “When I was a kid I was like a tomboy. I was always wrestling with my brother, always play-fighting with my brother. When I went to a boxing gym and I saw people actually doing the sport, I liked it. It was natural for my brother and me, something we actually liked. We weren’t forced to do it; we wanted to do it ourselves.”
Her brother is super lightweight Mario Barrios (20-0, 12Kos).
Barrios mentioned the fact her brother and her practiced the sport together made them all that much closer. “Everybody thought we were twins. We went through everything the same so that made the bond closer between us.”
After a year training, Barrios had her first amateur fight at the age of 10. At that point she began a career which saw her amass an impressive record of 75 wins against only 4 defeats in the unpaid ranks. Within that she captured various tournament titles with the biggest being four Ringside World titles, Silver Gloves, Golden Gloves, the Texas Games and Junior Olympics. Barrios soon saw herself in the 2012 Olympic trials where she beat Top Rank fighter Mikaela Mayer but lost to the #1 ranked Queen Underwood.
“They pretty much had who they want to go to the Olympics already,” Barrios says regarding the politics of the USA Boxing amateur program. “At that time I wasn’t known, I was barely turning open. They ended up putting me in with Mikaela Mayer the first night. She was the favorite to win but I ended up beating her. The next night I had to fight Queen Underwood who was ranked as #1 at 132 pounds. They pretty much were throwing all the top dogs at me. Many of them were getting byes and I was the main one that had to fight.”
Because of the experience Barrios developed a bitter taste towards boxing which saw her leave the sport for the better part of four years. In between that time Barrios became a mother to a three-year-old little girl.
“The amateurs was all about politics,” Barrios explained. “Who they want to win they are going to have win regardless. After that I didn’t even want to box anymore. After going to the trials and winning the fight but pretty much robbing it from me, I just stopped. It wasn’t until my brother told me I needed to do something with my boxing if not for me, for my daughter.”
“He was on me every day,” Barrios said of her brother and his push to get her back to boxing. “He was going to the gym and I was just sitting at home doing nothing. He’d seen that and pretty much pulled me out of bed and took me to the gym.”
Barrios jumped back into the gym but not without its trials and tribulations before having her first professional fight in her hometown of San Antonio, Texas.
“It was the running,” Barrios answered when asked what was the most difficult part of her return to training. “I was so overweight from not training for so long and having the baby, it actually hurt to run, honestly, it had to be the running.”
In her first fight as a professional without headgear and smaller gloves, Barrios knocked out the over matched Tammy Franks in the first round of four. It happened so fast, Barrios hardly remembers any of it.
“It was like a blur to me,” Barrios said. “I don’t even remember how it happened. I have video of it but I can’t believe I actually did it.”
In her second pro fight Barrios defeated the much more experienced Jasmine Clarkson going the full four round distance for the first time. “It was a tough fight. It went all four rounds. Jasmine Clarkson has a lot of experience. It was a good experience for me being that it was my second fight and going to the full distance.”
Surprisingly, the developing Barrios took a huge step in competition in only her third pro fight facing amateur standout Lisa Porter for the vacant NABF lightweight title in Louisiana on December 29th. Barrios walked away with a hard fought majority decision as well as the new white and green strap around her waist.
“It was a good experience,” said Barrios about the title fight and her first fight outside of of San Antonio. “That is one thing as a pro you have to do, fight out of state in different areas. It was a good experience for me, I got to build a fan base, not only from where I am from but in different states.”
“The videos that I did see of her, that is what we worked off of,” Barrios said of Porter. “She didn’t use what she has done, if she did change it, it didn’t work. Everything my coach and I worked on, it worked. I thought her jab would be her biggest weapon but in the actual fight she tried to use it but for the most part she was just holding me.”
Because she was not in her hometown, Barrios was nervous of the decision after the fight. “I won but after hearing the first judge say it was a draw, I didn’t want what happened to me in the amateurs to happen again. I was actually shocked, real surprised.”
Barrios won by majority decision.
A nice surprise was the fact her brother was in the stands cheering her on.
“A lot of my family went and even some from Wisconsin ended up going to my fight also,” Barrios shared. “It was a surprise for me because my brother had left to Cali for training camp in November and my dad bought him a plane ticket to the fight so it was my Christmas present.”
Now with the NABF title around her waist, Barrios is ranked in the top 20 in the lightweight division for the WBC title, the one she really wants. “I just won the title so I am guessing to defend it a couple of times and hopefully get a shot at the WBC title.”
To get there Barrios knows she will have to face once again an opponent from the past, a fight she has no problem making right now. “That is the goal, to get their spot. Mikaela Mayer, for example, because she is in my weight class, she is pretty much who I am coming for besides Katie Taylor.”
Another fight she has no issue making right now is against the current WBA lightweight champion and perhaps the biggest name in the division, Ireland’s Katie Taylor.
“If I am offered it, I am not going to turn it down,” Barrios said of a possible Taylor fight. “That is pretty much why I train. That is my goal.”