Gabriel Muratalla wants to take Edwin Rodriguez to school tonight in Atlanta
Gabriel Muratalla has a daily objective in his classroom as what his students need to learn.
Muratalla’s objective tonight in the boxing ring is pretty simple: Won and do so impressively.
The unbeaten Muratalla will face Edwin Rodriguez at the Overtime Elite Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The six-round bantamweight bout will precede the main event bout between junior featherweights Elijah Pierce and Mike Plania. Both fights will stream live on DAZN (7:30 p.m. ET/ 4:30 p.m. PT).
Tonight’s card on DAZN will be the debut of the Overtime Boxing series, which will run on four consecutive Fridays in August. Overtime is best known for its basketball league, featuring top high school and collegiate-age players.
Muratalla (9-0, 5 knockouts) last fought on January 28, knocking out Michael Nielsen in the third round. He is trained by Robert Garcia in Riverside, California, where he trains along and spars some of the best fighters in the sport.
“Preparation for this fight has been amazing, sparring Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez, Joshua Franco, (unbeaten prospect) Arturo Cardenas, and many more,” Muratalla told The Ring late Wednesday night. “Training and conditioning non-stop, feeling the strongest I’ve ever felt, physically and mentally.
“Also knowing my opponent is a tough veteran, I’ve gotten ready as if it were a 12-round fight. I know it’s going to be a hard fight, but my style will work its way and make it the fight I want it to be. I will come out victorious.”
The 29-year-old fought a handful of times inside ‘The Bubble’ in Las Vegas during the COVID-19 pandemic, winning each fight by knockout or decision.
Muratalla is the older brother of unbeaten lightweight contender Raymond Muratalla, who is ranked No. 10 by The Ring at 135 pounds. Both have excelled with Garcia as their trainer, and could continue to see their stock grow in their respective weight class.
“I’ve always enjoyed training with my brother,” said Muratalla, who resides in nearby Fontana. “I honestly can’t imagine training without him. We definitely push each other to our limits. We are also competitive, so we do try to beat records and such, when it comes to working out and training. Having my sibling definitely pushes me more than training solo, so I feel I have a gain in my camp with just that (in) itself.
“Training at Robert Garcia’s gym is amazing. The training and sparring there is actually insane. Elite fighters are always there and there’s so much sparring, especially during camp. Robert being my manager (has been) a great decision we have made, not only because he is a legend, but he also knows exactly what he is doing while being the most humble gentleman ‘til this day to me. My father is my trainer and I’m blessed for that because it’s learning everyday for me, no days off.”
Muratalla spent time in the classroom in middle schools before becoming a preschool teacher in nearby Rancho Cucamonga. A typical day is running in the morning, educating students during the day, and training at Garcia’s gym or his home gym.
Over the last couple of years, Muratalla has balanced his life between being an educator and prizefighter. He holds out hope he will contend at 115 pounds, but is open to also contending at 118 pounds.
Muratalla understands the difficult challenges that await in the ring as he continues going up the ladder of success, but enjoys the fruits of educating students in the classroom.
“I feel my students are too young to understand that I punch people professionally although my coworkers love my career. They’re always amazed (that) my happy self was a professional boxer. They always supported me through school and boxing and that also gave me motivation to continue my passion for boxing. I also never told the parents of the children that I did boxing because I felt they would look at me differently or think boxing is too rough. To find out some parents actually found out through some of my televised fights and were actually supportive was amazing.
“It’s summer break so I have set up my own boxing school in my backyard and have private training classes with students or clients.
“I want to make a statement that I’m a preschool teacher who can fight. I will show that my skills are different and that they are up there with elite fighters. I will be teaching lessons in that ring.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]