Joel Iriarte, Central California’s Next Boxing Prospect
You might have heard of WBC and WBO super lightweight world champion Jose Ramirez of Avenal, Ca, or blue-chip contender Gabriel Flores Jr, of Stockton, Ca, but meet 16-year-old Joel Itriate of Bakersfield, California, who hopes to add his name next to those fellow fighters.
“From 2013-2019 I saw I had a 90% winning average,” Itriate said humbly when looking USA Boxing’s chart they sent out to the public that show Itriate’s performances in national tournaments.
Irtiate is already making headway as his performance in the 141 lbs junior division is nothing short of impressive. He has won two youth national titles in 2019, three in 2018, three in 2017, and the Golden Gloves back in 2015. Not to mention in 2019, Itriate placed first place in Bornemissza Tournament, which is an international competition.
“Transitioning to nationals it was a bit nerve-wracking,” said Iriarte. “When I was 14-years-old, I found out about the being on U.S.A [boxing] team, and I stepped into the fifteen and sixteen age category, being fourteen [years-old]…and I have been on the USA team all three years.”
Training in Bakersfield, Itriate works closely with his father, Temo, who is also his coach, as the two have created a special relationship, one that also has a winning formula. Iriarte’s mother is his nutritionist making sure he eats healthy foods while staying at a certain weight and especially when cutting weight. The sparring either comes from road trips to the Los Angeles, California area or going to Fresno to spar Golden Boy Promotions’ fighter Evan Sanchez.
“For me, and my dad, we connect inside and outside of the ring,” said Iriarte. “We know what our strategies are in the ring, and we know how to execute them.”
Iriarte, who was set to compete in all the national tournaments is now on pause as he has wait for the world to come back together after the COVID-19 fiasco that is 2020, yet this has not deterred him from his goal.
“I would say moving onto the Olympics and god-willing get the gold medal and transitioning to the pros and winning a world title,” said Iriarte, when asked what his dreams are in boxing.
Nonetheless, with such high standards and so much winning Iriarte is a fighter worth keeping a diligent eye out for, especially in 2024.