According to a report Tuesday on ProBoxingInsider.com, women's boxing is floundering, and has been for years. Not since the days of Laila Ali has the sports received any attention at all from fans. Despite some quality talent out there, nobody has so far been able to spark the interest of the casual fan. Perhaps, that is, until now.
Maricela Cornejo has barely begun her career. At 2-0 she is off to a nice start, entering the top 15 in the middleweight rankings. With a small, but rapidly growing fan base, she is already among the most popular girls out there fighting. What is she doing that is different, that gives her the potential to become a breakout star in a sport that desperately needs one? She is marketing herself.
Cornejo has been blessed with the looks of a model. That is definitely a huge benefit in getting over with a crowd that is dominated by male viewers. If guys like to look at you, they are more likely to pay attention to what you are doing. But looks can only get you so far, and that's the part that Maricela Cornejo understands.
She has done acting, posed for sexy pictures, worked as a spokes model, and all the things necessary to get her name and face out there. And it has worked. People are starting to take notice. But her personality is her real secret weapon. Once she grabs your attention, she refuses to let it go.
I is frequently said that female boxers are wasting their talent by refusing to embrace the media in any way. With the exception of Mia St. John and to a lesser extent Ava Knight, almost all top fighters, at least in the United States, are more than comfortable living in complete anonymity and wondering why they are not famous and making money like some of their male counterparts do.
Maricela Cornejo still doesn't have the credentials to demand such treatment, but she does anyway. And that's why she has the potential to become the next big star in women's boxing. As relentless at promoting herself outside the ring as she is at fighting inside it, she has pushed through barrier after barrier, putting herself in positions she has no business being.
What has her determination done for her? It has landed her in the Mayweather Boxing Club, with Floyd Mayweather Sr. as her trainer, looking to have her next fight on May 3, on a card that goes off the day before the pay-per-view involving Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Robert Guerrero. If that fight goes through, with all the media in town for Floyd's fight, she will be showcased on a card seen by many of the top figures in boxing. How many women who are currently among the very best out there would love to have such a showcase for their talents? Instead, most are fighting in front of tiny crowds in small towns, or in other countries.
As she says, it's all about networking. She refuses to take a backseat to anyone, making sure she busts through as many doors as she can. Instead of being shy, afraid to offend, she gets herself out there, making connections, looking to be the boxing version of Ronda Rousey. If you don't like her opinion, that's your problem, not hers. Not afraid to be pretty, while at the same time talking about wanting to bash another girl's head in, she is exactly the type of fighter that is needed to elevate the sport.
Given the determination she has shown so far in her young life, it is hard to bet against her.