She’s Here, And She’s Back: Boxers Jennifer Lozano, Jajaira Gonzalez Thrive In Continental Championships

by Santosh Venkataraman

Jennifer Lozano celebrates after winning her final bout at the AMBC Elite Continental Championships on March 31, 2022 in Guayaquil, Ecuador.


For Jennifer Lozano, it was an international debut to remember. For Jajaira Gonzalez, it was a return to competition on foreign soil that brought back winning memories.
Lozano and Gonzalez became the first of six U.S. boxers to capture gold medals at the American Boxing Confederation Elite Continental Championships last week in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Both came through despite facing unique challenges in the buildup to the event.
The 19-year-old Lozano had proven herself to be superior to the competition for five years running at 52 kg. but dropped down to 50 kg. for this event, in preparation for the upcoming world championships in Turkey. So committed was she to the process that she adopted a vegan diet.
“It wasn’t a smooth ride, it wasn’t easy,” Lozano said. “110 (pounds) and 50 kg. was actually the first time in my life I had been that weight, and been that light.”
She also said that she used the weight drop as motivation to add “fuel to her fire,” and it helped her focus on the fundamentals in training.
“I was fully focused, nerves weren’t really an issue,” the native of Laredo, Texas, said. “I was just really focused on getting every punch to hit, getting everything to land and making sure I was the aggressive one, making sure my defense was right, my footwork, everything.”
The 25-year-old Gonzalez faced hurdles to get into shape in a different manner. A three-time world champion as the junior and youth levels, she was gearing up for her first international events since 2018, after a self-imposed hiatus. Making matters worse was her decision to take time off came right before the COVID-19 pandemic, which left her wanting in terms of motivation to train.
“I took my break from competing because I felt like I just really needed a mental break,” said Gonzalez, who also won a Youth Olympic Games gold medal in 2014. “I didn’t feel like myself. I was kind of just training really to train. It wasn’t like I wanted to anymore; I wasn’t really motivated. There were a lot of like personal things that I was going through.”
The Montclair, California, native eventually found her groove in training, and that carried over in her return to international competition.
Both fighters swept through their competitors in Ecuador, although that doesn’t mean their foes in the ring weren’t stiff. That was particularly the case for Lozano. Her unanimous decision over Tatiana Flores Milagros of Argentina for gold belied how close that fight was.

Jajaira Gonzalez celebrates on the podium after winning her final bout at the AMBC Elite Continental Championships on March 31, 2022 in Guayaquil, Ecuador.


Four judges scored the fight 29-28 for the American, who had to regroup after some trouble in the second round of the bout.  
“Second round, I lost it because I was too much in my head overthinking stuff,” Lozano said. “So, the third round I picked it up tremendously and just went all out. I made sure I dominated. And even then, I swear I thought it was a close decision and I wasn’t sure I was going to get it.”
Lozano said she screamed and burst into tears when she won, as her USA Boxing teammates looked on in awe.
“She did amazing. She literally was fighting like she belonged there and had been doing it for years, and that was her first international trip,” Gonzalez marveled.
Gonzalez wasn’t concerned about proving she belonged as much shaking off the rust and ensuring she was at her best. She claimed a 4-1 decision over Brazil’s Rebeca Santos in the 63 kg. gold-medal bout to demonstrate that she was back to form.
“It's definitely a blessing, like a year ago I never would have imagined just being back on top,” she said. “It was really something that I really felt I took for granted back in the day, so just to be back with amazing athletes and seeing how hard they worked, we all kind of motivate each other. So, it was definitely a great experience.”
And while Lozano was boxing internationally for the first time, she is comfortable outside the United States. The triumph had special meaning, she said, since she hails from a border town — Laredo is just across the border from Nuevo Laredo in Mexico.
“I couldn’t believe I had won internationally my first time and also being the first female ever in my hometown to represent both border towns,” she said. “It was amazing because I’m just not representing Team USA and USA Boxing, I’m representing women and females back at home.”
The journey was similarly a pleasant experience for Gonzalez, who also speaks Spanish and felt comfortable in the humid conditions.
“I did love being somewhere where I speak Spanish as well, so it was really easy for me to adapt, like I wasn’t really lost,” Gonzalez said. “It was very hot, definitely very hot at the arena, we were losing two, three pounds before we even competed.”
Up next, the boxers will head to Colorado Springs, Colorado, for a training camp before going to Italy to train overseas for the world championships that take place May 6-21 in Istanbul, Turkey. It’s a stage that Gonzalez relishes.
“That’s like the really big one,” she said. “Continentals was pretty big too, but it was just like a warm-up for worlds, for me at least, where it really matters.”

Santosh Venkataraman is a freelance contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.