Melinda Cooper's Road to a Championship Goes Through Velez
By David A. Avila
Walking down the street Melinda “La Maravilla” Cooper looks like any other 20-something year-old with wants and needs that might be described as mundane. But her goals are much more than that.
“This title fight means everything to me,” says Cooper unflinchingly.
Beginning as a youth, the pretty brunette with the shy smile has surprised many including legendary trainers and promoters like the late Eddie Futch and Dana White with her abilities to battle in the ring. She plain likes to bang.
“When I was a kid Eddie Futch used to show me things all the time; I just never knew that he was a living legend,” admits Cooper who was a mere child of 11 when the master boxing trainer who taught Freddie Roach and others his craft.
Ultimate Fighting Championship’s White remembers witnessing
Cooper’s uncanny abilities in the crowded gyms of
“I have known Melinda Cooper since we go way back. I met her back in the boxing days when she used to train out of one of the big boxing gyms that Kirk Kerkorian used to fund Nevada Partners,” says White, who knows a thing or two about mixed martial arts and boxing. “I met her over there she was a little girl.”
Cooper is no longer the little girl who likes to bang. Now she’s one of the best female boxers in the world.
On Sunday afternoon, Nov. 20, Cooper (21-1, 11 KOs) eagerly
gets a return match with Ada Velez (19-3-3, 6
Cooper loves fighting in
“I have wanted to fight in Vegas again for so long and now I am, and for a world title,” says Cooper who seldom shows excitement.
Velez won a split decision against Cooper back in late
March. The match took place in a huge soccer stadium in
“Although I can never get
my record back, I can set my mind at ease once I beat
During the press conference on Friday afternoon, Cooper and Velez shoved each other and words were exchanged.
“Melinda means business,” says James Pena who has trained Cooper throughout her boxing career. “She’s ready.”
White, who helped Cooper in obtaining the first world title she won back on 2005 by paying for her sanctioning fees, knows that the model-looking prizefighter is serious about her craft.
“I think she just loves the sport. I think she’s passionate about it. And she’s tough man. She’s tough as nails,” says White. “Since a little girl she’s been like that.”
Velez said recently that she has prepared much better than her first fight especially after exchanging blows with Cooper for 10 rounds last spring.
Though the very girlish looking Cooper hasn’t made any verbal predictions or threats, she’s poised to show her hometown what it’s been missing for nearly six years. The last time she fought for the home crowd was in January 2007.
“They are all so excited to see me fight in Vegas, they know how much I love fighting at home and they will be at my fight cheering me on,” Cooper said.
She may look like a model but don’t expect her to pose.
Other title bouts
IBF featherweight titleholder Stacey Reile (10-3) defends
Both fought each other in
Doors open at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. For ticket information go to www.texasstation.com