Pearl Gonzalez returns to the ring to fight in her father’s memory

SAN DIEGO - Pearl Gonzalez has worked her way to becoming XFC Flyweight Champion, but now she's overcoming her biggest obstacle yet – the death of her father.

"He raised me as a single parent…because of that we were very, very close,” Gonzalez said.

The 32-year-old professional fighter said her father struggled with drugs over the years, but it never stopped him from raising her.

“My dad was like a very soft gentleman and I was just an angry little kid. That's why he probably found fighting for me."

Gonzalez started fighting when she was 11 and has developed into a world-class fighter. Her record as a professional fighter is 9-3.

"[I’m] obsessed in my training. This is the only place I feel free, challenged and where I'm not sad and I'm not missing him,” she said. "I'm going to honor him through this sport. He's my biggest fan. I owe it to him and his hard work and how he raised me to do the best I possibly can.”

Gonzalez uses the lessons her father taught her in everything that she does, including her pursuit of the Invicta Flyweight Championship belt.

The Invicta Flyweight doesn’t have a champion. Come December, Gonzalez has a chance to change that.

"The next fight will be at 125 [pounds]. My only sole focus is this flyweight world title. I want this belt."

Even though her father is gone, her fighting spirit remains.

“I think about him every single day in the training,” Gonzalez said. "We lose more than we win, and if you can just find your ways, your little ways every single day to just persevere and get through... You get stronger."