Female Boxing Legend Melinda Cooper Returns to Las Vegas Ring
By David A. Avila
Melinda “La Maravilla” Cooper may have the face of an angel but once she steps inside the boxing ring don’t look for a trace of pity because winning each and every single prizefight is her goal.
“I want to win,” she says emphatically.
Despite living in Las Vegas her entire life and being ignored by most of its fight journalists, Cooper has blazed a career that has most real experts tabbing her as that city’s most exciting prizefighter. Whether it’s a man or woman Cooper’s talent and style shines above the others.
The petite brunette Cooper (21-1, 11 KOs) will meet Puerto
Rico’s Ada Velez (19-3-3, 6 KOs) for the IBF super bantamweight world title on
Nov. 20 at the Texas Station Casino in
Walking down a street or in a shopping mall few if any could determine that the model-looking Cooper is one of professional boxing’s most skilled boxer-punchers in the world.
Since childhood the soft-spoken girl has veered toward one of the most dangerous sports in the world as an outlet for her burning compulsion for achievement.
Of course there is a softer side, but not when she dons the boxing gloves. Once she enters a boxing zone you can forget about chit chat or joking around. A veneer of dispassionate focus appears on her face and whoever is her opponent has experienced that look. It’s a remorseless expression you might see in a hungry leopard about to feed on its prey.
“I’m super excited about fighting in Vegas!” exclaims Cooper. “I love fighting in my home town.”
The last time Cooper stepped in a ring in
Cooper’s fans were many and each and every time she fought a
large number showed up eager to see her flashing fists and skillful maneuvers.
Even Ultimate Fighting Championship’s Dana White was a regular supporter of the
female prizefighter. Now she finally returns to the ring. Unknown to many of
her fans is she still lives and works in
“Not much has really changed in my life since I last fought in Vegas. I am older now and have had a few more fights since,” says Cooper who is trained by James Pena. “The biggest disappointment would have to be that women do not get to fight on the big fight cards.”
Outside of the ring, Cooper works in two different jobs and rarely has time to enjoy her youth. Working and training consume most of the day throughout the week. She never complains.
“Melinda works a lot,” said Pena, who’s known her since her childhood. “She needs to fight more often.”
Those that have seen her perform in the ring are often awestruck.
“She’s the best girl fighter I’ve seen since Lucia Rijker,” said Robert Johnson, a boxing fan who’s attended two of her fights. “There are girls just as skillful as Melinda, but not as exciting. She goes in to beat you down.”
Most opponents don’t realize that the angel face they see in front of them during weigh-ins and introductions is not the person they are going to face in the ring.
“She’s a whole different person in the ring,” says Pena.
There are definitely two sides to Cooper.
“Outside the ring I would describe myself as a disciplined, fiercely private and extremely loyal individual,” says Cooper. “In the ring I am very confident, competitive and determined.”
And she’s one of the best female prizefighters in the world.
Cooper returns to a