Have you ever watched a short clip of “La Diva“ Maricela Cornejo training in the ring? It will put a shiver up your spine hearing the sound of sliced air as she throws a right hook. Damn that would hurt, is what goes through your mind. She’s a super middleweight professional boxer with a record of 13-3.
Maricela Cornejo is the most googled female boxer. If you think she gets attention because she’s pretty or you’ve heard about the infamous red swimsuit, think again. Watch her fights, her fights are damn good fun to watch. Maricela’s form is always complemented by ringside commentators. “Light on her feet,” “powerful,” “solid combinations,” “a fierce jab,” these are words you hear describing “La Diva.” Her fights force you to take notice of her boxing style and beautiful footwork.
We agreed to meet at 10 am for her photo shoot and interview at her trainer Marvin Somodio’s Combinations Boxing Academy in Lawndale. Mari was right on time with her badass boxer shorts with sick bling. She is very tall with incredible muscular arms. Anytime I interview someone down to earth and happy, it’s a pleasure. Today was one of those days.
Maricela was an instant natural in front of the camera. We got the money shot, then proceeded to sit ringside for a chill conversation. The Combinations gym was quiet on this Tuesday, but sparring was going to take place shortly. I had so many questions I wanted to ask her, it was a cinch to get the conversation started.
Just at sight, she makes you want to ask what the hell do you eat? I wanted to know what her day is like, any given day. It’s a lot of training. La Diva has a 5 member team behind her. A trainer, nutritionist, marketing team, and sponsors. When she’s training for a fight she’ll wake up at 6 am, go for a run, eat, rest, train, eat, rest, train, sleep and repeat. Today, it’s clear she’s in the best shape of her life, lean and mean.
Mari “La Diva” had a late start to boxing, she’s only been boxing 8 years, but what a start a start it has been! With a background in volleyball and fast pitch softball, she’s a true jock. Her first 4 amateur fights resulted in 4 first round KOs. Mari decided to go pro, go big or go home.
Maricela Cornejo moved to LA from Washington State in her early 20’s by herself. She bought herself 10 boxing lessons at Freddie Roach’s and the rest is history. Everything happened fast for Maricela. Mari went straight to the front of the line.
Do her boxing peers hate on her for that? Sure they do. One thing led to another for Mari, she met all the heavy’s at Roach’s and learned. Mari is not playing, every move she makes is calculated and with strategy. Mari would watch and learn from all the greats such as Cesar Chavez Jr, Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather, and Amir Khan.
“I would watch them for hours,” she explained.
It took Mari seven years of training until she got signed with Goldenboy Promotions. Mari is proud of her self promotion and how her team took it to the next level.
Mari in her red one piece created an internet sensation. When I asked her if that was strategic, she answered, “Yes, I thought to myself how am I going to stand out?”
With a huge smile on her face she said, “It was hard to keep a straight face, but when it was time I stood on that weight scale and did my pose, and I saw the cameras go crazy!” Damn right they did.
Mari has a huge fan base both in the sport and on social media, “You’ve got to take that risk.” Mari reflected on how she has been hated on instead of encouraged,“I let it get to me in the beginning, but then I thought that if I can’t take it now, how am I going to later? God’s preparing me for what’s to come.”
Mari has fought all solid opponents, in sold out arenas and some empty ones too. Mari has an orthodox stance and looks sharp in the ring. Her fight with Latasha Burton gave her the WBC International Super Middleweight title in 2015. One of my personal favorite fights of hers is Cornejo vs Pill, an incredible display of female boxing.
“I give myself 2 years” said Maricela, and agreed when I asked her if she tangled with the idea of kids.
“Women cannot make a living in boxing.” Maricela is also an aspiring actress.
Before we parted ways I asked her if she was dating anyone. Her answer, “People can’t ruin what they don’t know, but I can tell you I’m very happy,” with a giant smile.
When Maricela isn’t training to fight she likes to visit her family and friends. Will we get to see Maricela fight the champion boxers in her weight class? Knowing Maricela is to know she has a strategy. We will have to wait and see like the rest of her fans.