Photo by Team Cooper
Legend of Melinda "La Maravilla" Cooper Continues in Mexico
By David A. Avila
The first time I ever heard the name Melinda Cooper somebody
was mumbling about a young girl from
I tucked the name into my memory file and two years passed when the name Melinda Cooper came up again.
It was nearly a decade ago when a very young Cooper, 17, stepped into the ring against Elizabeth Cervantes at the Orleans Casino in a bantamweight match. A fair chunk of the crowd was on hand to watch the teen do her work. I was curious.
That night, May 17, 2002, Cooper stopped Cervantes with some blinding punches that left the native Mexican fighter impotent and unable to stop the rush of blows. It ended in two rounds.
Cooper’s victory was slightly hollow because Cervantes was
basically incapable of defending the
Since then her legend has grown.
“La Maravilla” Cooper (21-0, 11 KOs) travels to fight Fredee
Gonzalez (5-6-1) on Saturday Jan. 22, in
“I’m just happy that I’m fighting,” said Cooper who is
trained by James Pena in
Sick or not she dominated Miriam Avila who has more than 20
pro fights but they’re not recorded on stateside ledgers. In fact, Cooper beat
Still, the pretty brunette Cooper with the flashing fists
has not fought in her hometown in four years though
“It’s really been difficult to get a fight here,” said Cooper, 25, who was born and raised amid the neon lights and glitzy hotels of the Las Vegas Strip.
Up to 2005 the pretty
From 2006 to 2010 she fought once a year though many in the boxing world knew she was one of the best and most exciting female boxers in the world winning the flyweight world title and beating everyone that stepped in front of her. Fans get a kick out of watching this demur brunette with the angelic face slip into another persona and blast opponents right out of the ring.
Knockouts are her specialty, but in female boxing it’s a rare event. It’s kind of like finding women in pro basketball who can dunk. They’re rare. But there was little Cooper stepping into her punches with alacrity and leverage that would make the late Sugar Ray Robinson proud. Cooper delivers a deadlier right cross than anyone in female boxing and her left kook packs more kick than a sidewinder missile.
Cooper can punch. Just ask the 11 victims that she demoralized.
Sparring is another matter. She hates sparring women and prefers the boys rather than other female pro boxers.
“The boys hit harder and are quicker,” says Cooper.
James Pena, who’s trained Cooper since she was 11, says it’s a chore keeping her sharp. During the past five years all of the training they’ve done has been nearly fruitless with postponed fights and female opponents unwilling to face the pocket-sized destroyer.
“She gets bored with just training,” says Pena. “Now things are beginning to pick up.”
Cooper signed with Sampson Boxing LLC and he’s immediately
given her three fights in
“I’m excited to be working with Claudia,” said Cooper.
A world title bout is on their sights for 2011, nothing less.
“I expect La Maravilla not only to get more fights a year,
but to get tremendous exposure through my new company,” said Ollis, a
Cooper has more to add to those plans.
“I expect to reclaim my position at number one and become a world champion again,” said Cooper on Tuesday. “Also to achieve recognition and respect within the sport of boxing, not only as a female athlete, but as an athlete in general.”