Maricela Cornejo’s Work Begins On Friday
By Felipe Leon
Despite a solid professional record, a world title challenge and a WBC international title under her belt, for 30 year old Maricela “La Diva” Cornejo her work starts now.
On Friday, March 9th, from the Hangar in Costa Mesa, CA, the outspoken and charismatic Cornejo (9-2, 2 KOs) makes her much anticipated debut under the banner of Golden Boy Promotions when she faces Lisa Garland in a six round bout.
Cornejo joins 2012 Olympic medalist Marlen Esparza and light flyweight standout Seniesa Estrada as the first wave of female fighters signed to the Oscar De La Hoya-owned promotional company.
“The real work starts now,” Cornejo, originally from the Pacific Northwest, said via telephone from her camp in Indio, CA. “Getting that support from a promotor is great but you can’t have the attitude that now you made it. It does relieve some stress because you know you are going to fight, all you have to do is be ready but now it is time to give it your all. You have to be ready but you know you are going to be on a card. I am blessed they gave me the opportunity and now there is three of us under the Golden Boy banner but I want them to sign more women. I don’t want it to be just us three. I want to see women get the opportunities we deserve and the pay.”
Interestingly, the signing came after perhaps the worst performance of her career. In her last fight Cornejo traveled to Cancun, Mexico, to face rookie Irais Hernandez. In the tough six rounder in which Hernandez gave as good as she got, Cornejo walked away with a split decision.
“Totally dissatisfied with that performance and for allowing the judges to see it as a split decision,” Cornejo said of the fight. “My mind wasn’t there. I needed to make some changes outside of the ring so as not to have so many voices in my head. I wasn’t at my best. I know what to do when a punch is coming to my head but I had some other voices telling me how I should do things when I know how to do things. But I am good mentally now and when I am mentally ready, look out. I learned from that bout and what I needed to do to improve.”
On Friday Cornejo is scheduled to face Lisa Noel Garland (15-9, 8KO), a career welterweight, who will be going up to the catch weight of 162 pounds to face Cornejo for the scheduled six rounder. Garland in her last fight was dispatched in the first round by no other than Raquel Miller.
Cornejo and Miller made quite a stir about 15 months ago with a heated beef between the two on social media that was closely followed by devoted female boxing fans. After a number verbal jabs, hooks and right hands from both camps in interviews and on social media, it all came to a head in a verbal confrontation in Las Vegas, Nevada, obviously taped for posterity after the Pacquiao vs Vargas world title fight.
“La Diva” did not seem all that concerned with the unavoidable talk that will emerge if she doesn’t finish Garland in the same fashion or better than Miller.
“I’m glad they will be talking, whether it is good or bad, they still will be talking about me and have my name in their mouth. I don’t really care what she did before. If I knock her out with my first punch and Raquel Miller needed 30 seconds of the first round, what are they going to say then? I don’t care, I have to take what is available and if I see it as available, I am going to take it. If it’s not, it’s not. I will make the decision at the moment.”
Cornejo did reiterate she would be looking to put on an impressive performance in what would be the swing bout of the ESPN-televised portion of the Friday night fight card.
“Of course I am looking for the knockout, every boxer does,” Cornejo said with a laugh. “Any boxer that says they aren’t looking for the knockout is lying.”
To this day the much anticipated fight against Miller has not materialized but Cornejo says she is more than willing to face her and the sooner the better.
“If they set it up that fight for my next fight that would be great. I don’t think they would do that to her. Her promotor is DiBella, so that will be new excuse, that her promotor doesn’t want the fight.”
Although happy for Miller and her contract with DiBella Entertainment, Cornejo doesn’t think the fight deserves as much as others that can be made for her.
“She is just another opponent,” Cornejo said of Miller. “If it was Claressa Shields, we wouldn’t take that fight unless it was on TV or PPV but with Raquel Miller, she is just another opponent, no big deal. She has a fan base and I think if it is promoted correctly it can be bigger so I don’t see why a promoter wouldn’t want to capitalize on that. I think fans would show up.”
As far as what it is in store for Cornejo for 2018, according to Golden Boy Promotions, it is work. She has been given the order to stay ready because she should be fighting more often than at any time in her six year career. As far as when she will be again fighting for a world title, she is ready, willing and able as long as it is the right one.
“Whatever title is the right one at the right time, at 160 or 168 pounds, I’m not just going to go to another division because the title is available like Alicia Napoleon did with the WBA 168 pound title,” Cornejo explained while taking a dig at the newly crowned champion. Napoleon before her world title fight this past weekend had never fought above 157 pounds. “I think it is disrespectful to the real fighters of the division. She always said the division was too heavy and now she is the WBA champion? You have to deserve it in that division. She is on our lane now, all the 168 pounders, so she needs to fight all of us.”
(Photo by Al Applerose)