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The Unusual Journey of Melinda Cooper

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Melinda_Cooper_conf._3Melinda “La Maravilla” Cooper is unlike other girls or even other female fighters. The Las Vegas brunette doesn’t spend days and nights on Twitter or Facebook, she would rather read poetry or biographies when not at one of her three jobs.

She’s a very unusual woman of supreme talent.

Even Cooper’s career is unusual. Despite winning a flyweight world title in 2005 at age 19, the petite boxer with a quiet demeanor has not engaged in another world title fight.

That will change in Costa Rica when Cooper (21-0, 11 KOs) travels to Central America to face former bantamweight world champion Ada Velez (18-3-3, 6 KOs) for the vacant IBF title on Thursday, March 31. It won’t be televised in the United States.

“I’m very excited to be fighting for a world title again,” said Cooper, 26, who’s a native of Las Vegas.

Critics may wonder why it’s taken so long for the demure prizefighter to finally compete for another world championship but the fault is not Cooper’s. It’s very difficult to find opponents willing to face a legendary fighter whose exploits have been bandied about for over a decade. Yes, legendary.

Ever since trainer James Pena laced up gloves on Cooper the Las Vegas boxer has displayed blinding speed, power and quick absorption of boxing’s do’s and don’ts. And so have opponents.

“Don’t fight Cooper” seems to be the mantra of female prizefighters from flyweights to junior featherweights.

Who can blame them?

After more than 15 years of dominating the sport including a spotless record after nine years as a professional, Cooper’s prowess has sent shivers worldwide to potential opponents.

Last December she was scheduled to fight Fredee Gonzalez in that fighter’s home country Mexico. Gonzalez canceled at the last moment claiming she was overweight. A few weeks later that same fighter opted to fight leading junior featherweight contender Jackie Nava rather than get beat up by Cooper.

One reason might be that Cooper twice fought in Mexico and dominated Miriam Avila in front of her home audience. Mexican fans are not accustomed to seeing one of their native fighters resort to survival tactics. It’s not their way. Cooper doesn’t allow them an alternative. It’s run or get knocked out.

Now here comes Velez. She fears no one.

The Puerto Rican prizefighter has fought anyone willing to face her. While others were unwilling to step in the ring with speedy Kaliesha West, the Boricua from Florida traveled to California and fought to a draw after six rounds.

Now Velez faces another tremendous prizefighter with even more power. Cooper respects her opponent and everyone she’s ever fought in the ring.

“I respect and admire every female fighter that shows up to the gym or steps in the ring,” said Cooper, who is currently attending college.

Uniqueness is what attracted Southern California business woman Claudia Ollis to sign on as Cooper’s advisor.

“She is very sweet and soft-spoken,” said Ollis who advises Cooper on matters outside of the ring. “Melinda is very appreciative of anyone who helps her toward her goals.”

Ollis said that MTV is currently discussing using Cooper as a subject on one if its upcoming shows. Another television project is also in discussions that includes the Las Vegas boxer.

“I believe Melinda Cooper is going to be the next superstar,” said Ollis, adding that she also has other female fighters with superstar potential.

Fame is fine for Cooper, but inside the boxing ring the hard-working Las Vegas student zeroes in toward dismantling opponents. She never looks to win by decision; it’s the knockout or destruction that she seeks like a diminutive cruise missile.

Promoter Sampson Lewkowicz signed Cooper last year when he spotted the female boxer brushing aside a tough Mexican fighter like tumble weed.

“She fights like a man,” said Lewkowicz who’s known internationally for discovering boxing talent like Sergio Martinez, Michael Katsidis and Manny Pacquiao. “She is one of the best female fighters in the world.”

Lewkowicz also notes that Cooper is also one of the sports prettiest fighters but once she begins to fight, her talent is obvious.

“You need to see her to believe it,” Lewkowicz says.

Walking among regular people in the casino capital of the world Cooper doesn’t look like the extraordinary boxer that other boxers fear. She’s just another attractive girl in a city that attracts people.

Don’t expect to reach her by one of the social networks that dominate most other female’s time today.

“I seldom go on Facebook,” Cooper says.  

However, you can count on Cooper entering the gym like clockwork.

She’s a very unusual talent.

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2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura

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The WBC World Super Featherweight title bout between Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura came on one of the biggest boxing stages of 2015, as the bout served as the HBO pay-per-view’s co-main event on November 21st, in support of Miguel Cotto vs Saul Alvarez.

Miura entered the fight with a (29-2-2) record and he was making the fifth defense of his world title, while Vargas entered the fight with an undefeated mark of (22-0-1) in what was his first world title fight. Both men had a reputation for all-out fighting, with Miura especially earning high praise for his title defense in Mexico where he defeated Sergio Thompson in a fiercely contested battle.

The fight started out hotly contested, and the intensity never let up. Vargas seemed to win the first two rounds, but by the fourth round, Miura seemed to pull ahead, scoring a knock-down and fighting with a lot of confidence. After brawling the first four rounds, Miura appeared to settle into a more technical approach. Rounds 5 and 6 saw the pendulum swing back towards Vargas, as he withstood Miura’s rush to open the fifth round and the sixth round saw both men exchanging hard punches.

The big swinging continued, and though Vargas likely edged Miura in rounds 5 and 6, Vargas’ face was cut in at least two spots and Miura started to assert himself again in rounds 7 and 8. Miura was beginning to grow in confidence while it appeared that Vargas was beginning to slow down, and Miura appeared to hurt Vargas at the end of the 8th round.

Vargas turned the tide again at the start of the ninth round, scoring a knock down with an uppercut and a straight right hand that took Miura’s legs and sent him to the canvas. Purely on instinct, Miura got back up and continued to fight, but Vargas was landing frequently and with force. Referee Tony Weeks stepped in to stop the fight at the halfway point of round 9 as Miura was sustaining a barrage of punches.

Miura still had a minute and a half to survive if he was going to get out of the round, and it was clear that he was not going to stop fighting.

A back and forth battle of wills between two world championship level fighters, Takashi Miura versus “El Bandido” Vargas wins the 2015 Fight of the Year.

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Jan 9 in Germany – Feigenbutz and De Carolis To Settle Score

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This coming Saturday, January 9th, the stage is set at the Baden Arena in Offenburg, Germany for a re-match between Vincent Feigenbutz and Giovanni De Carolis. The highly anticipated re-match is set to air on SAT.1 in Germany, and Feigenbutz will once again be defending his GBU and interim WBA World titles at Super Middleweight.

The first meeting between the two was less than three months ago, on October 17th and that meeting saw Feigenbutz controversially edge De Carolis on the judge’s cards by scores of (115-113, 114-113 and 115-113). De Carolis scored a flash knock down in the opening round, and he appeared to outbox Feigenbutz in the early going, but the 20 year old German champion came on in the later rounds.

The first bout is described as one of the most crowd-pleasing bouts of the year in Germany, and De Carolis and many observers felt that the Italian had done enough to win.

De Carolis told German language website RAN.DE that he was more prepared for the re-match, and that due to the arrogance Feigenbutz displayed in the aftermath of the first fight, he was confident that he had won over some of the audience. Though De Carolis fell short of predicting victory, he promised a re-vamped strategy tailored to what he has learned about Feigenbutz, whom he termed immature and inexperienced.

The stage is set for Feigenbutz vs De Carolis 2, this Saturday January 9th in Offenburg, Germany. If you can get to the live event do it, if not you have SAT.1 in Germany airing the fights, and The Boxing Channel right back here for full results.

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2015 Knock Out of the Year – Saul Alvarez KO’s James Kirkland

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On May 9th of 2015, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez delivered a resonant knock-out of James Kirkland on HBO that wins the 2015 KO of the Year.

The knock-out itself came in the third round, after slightly more than two minutes of action. The end came when Alvarez delivered a single, big right hand that caught Kirkland on the jaw and left him flat on his back after spinning to the canvas.Alvarez was clearly the big star heading into the fight. The fight was telecast by HBO for free just one week after the controversial and disappointing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao fight, and Alvarez was under pressure to deliver the type of finish that people were going to talk about. Kirkland was happy to oblige Alvarez, taking it right to Alvarez from the start. Kirkland’s aggression saw him appear to land blows that troubled the young Mexican in the early going. Alvarez played good defense, and he floored Kirkland in the first round, displaying his power and his technique in knocking down an aggressive opponent.

However, Kirkland kept coming at Alvarez and the fight entered the third round with both men working hard and the feeling that the fight would not go the distance. Kirkland continued to move forward, keeping “Canelo” against the ropes and scoring points with a barrage of punches while looking for an opening.

At around the two minute mark, Alvarez landed an uppercut that sent Kirkland to the canvas again. Kirkland got up, but it was clear that he did not have his legs under him. Kirkland was going to try to survive the round, but Alvarez had an opportunity to close out the fight. The question was would he take it?

Alvarez closed in on Kirkland, putting his opponent’s back to the ropes. Kirkland was hurt, but he was still dangerous, pawing with punches and loading up for one big shot.

But it was the big shot “Canelo” threw that ended the night. Kirkland never saw it coming, as he was loading up with a huge right hand of his own. The right Alvarez threw cracked Kirkland in the jaw, and his eyes went blank. His big right hand whizzed harmlessly over the head of a ducking Alvarez, providing the momentum for the spin that left Kirkland prone on the canvas.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez went on to defeat Miguel Cotto in his second fight of 2015 and he is clearly one of boxing’s biggest stars heading into 2016. On May 9th Alvarez added another reel to his highlight film when he knocked out James Kirkland with the 2015 “Knock Out of the Year”.

Photo by naoki fukuda

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