Melinda Cooper’s Win Brings More Clout for Arqangel Promotions

By David A. Avila

Melinda Cooper continues the run toward world titles for a Southern California female boxing promotion company.
Cooper, a former flyweight world champion from Las Vegas, defeated Mexico’s Zenny Sotomayor on Wednesday by unanimous decision in Tijuana, Mexico. It was her first fight in two years that saw cancellations and injuries add to her inactivity. She fights under the Arqangel Promotions banner.

Aside from Cooper, the Riverside-based boxing company also has top-rated Celina Salazar of San Antonio, Texas and current IFBA lightweight world champion Crystal Morales of Oxnard, California. It’s a super strong triumvirate.

When Cooper, whose nickname is “La Maravilla” traveled to Tijuana, her reputation had preceded her into Mexico and fans showed up to see her in action against a proven veteran in Sotomayor. The Mexican girl Sotomayor had twice fought for the world title unsuccessfully in the past year and was looking for a win. 

Cooper dominated with her precise combinations and boxing skills that had enabled her to become one of the most feared female fighters below 122 pounds. This fight took place at the bantamweight division and according to Arqangel Promotions she could possibly fight at 115 pounds. Her win was convincing.

“I think it says that she is still a force to be reckoned with. People have counted her out because she had a couple of losses,” said Jeannie Coston-Avila, COO of Arqangel. “This win proves she is not done.”

Coston-Avila said that many believed Cooper had retired or was uninterested because of her inactivity since defeating Celina Salazar by majority decision in a razor close win.

“It’s another notch on our belt and proves we have some talented girls that can put on some great fights,” Coston-Avila said, adding that it was Salazar’s competitiveness against Cooper that convinced Arqangel to sign the Texan to a contract.

“Celina is a tough up and comer that I think has proven herself time and time again,” said Coston-Avila adding that Salazar defeated former world champion Ana Julaton and Mexico’s Maria Villalobos. “She is willing to fight anybody. She’s ready for the next opponent. Even when she is not ready she is ready.”

In Salazar’s last fight this past July, Salazar was asked if she would accept a fight in Costa Rica against a Mexican opponent. She had not been training and was given less than two weeks to prepare. Salazar, whose nickname is “The Sweetheart”, took the fight and defeated the always rugged Villalobos by decision in San Jose, Costa Rica.

“We’re in the process of getting a fight for Celina for a bantamweight world title,” she said.

Another fighter on the Arqangel roster is Crystal “La Morenasa” Morales who holds the IFBA lightweight world title she captured by defeating Rhonda Luna. 

“Crystal is a scrappy brawler and willing to fight anyone,” Coston Avila said of Morales “She is not afraid of anyone.”

Morales also has the ability to bring in crowds as she proved in her two fights with Rhonda Luna at the Orange County Hangar in back-to-back fights. She loves to fight as do all of the Arqangel prizefighters.

“Pretty much all of the girls we signed are not afraid of anyone. It’s the reason we wanted each of them because they are not afraid of fighting anyone,” said Coston-Avila. They aren’t the type of people that just wanted wins under their belt. They want legitimate wins and not false wins like some people have.”

Cooper, Salazar and Morales are also fighting to bring recognition to female prizefighting.

“We’re getting closer and closer,” said Coston-Avila.