Melinda Cooper Is Back
Mexican Fans Can See Melinda Cooper in Action
By David A. Avila
Over the years people whispered about a young girl Melinda Cooper from Las Vegas who could punch as fast and hard as the young men who filled the gyms in the casino-ridden city in the desert.
People said she was the best female boxer in the Southwest and they weren't wrong. At age 19 she captured a flyweight world title and expected many more. Women’s boxing did not oblige and for the last nine years Cooper was caught in a web of promoter disinterest in female boxing and fearful women boxers unwilling to suffer a loss.
After two years of inactivity Cooper (22-2, 11 Kos) finally gets her chance on Wednesday against Mexico’s Zenny Sotomayor (10-7-2, 8 Kos) in a six round bantamweight bout. The contest takes place at Discoteca 27 in Tijuana, Mexico. No television.
Cooper still remains one of the most electrifying talents in women’s boxing. But years of disappointment took their toll on her fire. Every year it seemed a fight would come forth then disappear. Every year she would show up in the gyms with her boxing gear in hand and put in hours of mitt work, sit-ups, sparring and running. But slowly the fire seemed to ebb from her willpower.
Mexico’s Sotomayor doesn’t have the same problem. In her country women’s boxing has more importance and often they are the main event. Women lace up the gloves knowing they will fight often as long as they are willing. Refusing a fight in Mexico is almost a sin.
Still, Cooper knows that a win in Mexico convinces the powers that be she can fight and entertain. It’s not often that a girl fighter possesses the speed and power that the pretty Las Vegas fighter wields. Knockouts are seldom seen in the bantamweight division but Cooper has 11. Fans love to see her fight.
Cooper still sizzles when she enters the ring after shaking off the nervousness.
“Yes, I do get nervous before a fight,” said Cooper, 29, who began boxing at 11 years old. “My proudest moment as a fighter I would say is when I won my first professional fight.”
Here she is after 24 professional prize fights and still gets revved up when entering a boxing ring.
“I’m excited about fighting,” said Cooper who last fought more than two years ago. “My life hasn’t changed much since becoming a boxer other than working and getting older.”
After a decade of fighting Cooper has one more goal that keeps her training and grinding in the gyms after all these years.
“At first my goal as a boxer was to become a world champion and I did that at 19,” said Cooper who captured the flyweight world title in 2005. “Now my goal is to become a WBC world champion before I retire.”
The petite bantamweight wants nothing more than to wear the green belt and knows Sotomayor stands in her way. She knows each year the women putting on the gloves get better and better.
“Boxing has improved. More females from the amateurs are turning professional and better trainers are interested in training women,” says Cooper.
Mexican fans get a chance to see one of the best female boxers in the world.