Cooper Comes Back to the World Stage at Home in Las Vegas - Page 2
Surrounded by familial, team, and community support, perhaps no one understands her journey more than James. Dedicating the past 15 years to assuring Melinda’s wellbeing and future, James continues to not only commit to her full time training schedule, but he does so while reporting to two jobs that push his average weekly work schedule to well over 40 hours. “I work seven days a week, but I do what I have to do,” James said. “Not everyone gets the opportunity to ever be the world champion of anything and Melinda has this second opportunity to capture her second world title. This is special. It’s the opportunity of a life time. It’s a must win.”
While on familiar Las Vegas terrain, Cooper most recently sparred with 126-pound title challenger Dahiana Santana of Dominican Republic who also challenges for a world title in another rematch in the same event. In a most unique setting, punches were traded at Kwan International Marketing and Media’s facility at the Speedway Commerce Center which resides at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Watching sternly in the corner and commenting every step of the way, James leaves nothing on the table. For him, when Melinda fights, he fights.
Through enjoying the highs of an undefeated career, they both now enter an arena where they have something to prove. A rematch and a win over Velez would nullify the one single defeat on her record, yet its significance spans much more than just rectifying a number. This is Melinda’s future. This is James’ future. “Starting at the first world title Melinda won at 111 pounds, our goal was to win multiple world championships at multiple weights,” James said. “This was the vision all along.”
Perhaps overcoming adversity is the greatest triumph of all. Avenging a loss, a misfortune, and missed opportunity can either distinguish or fuel the fire. For this team, the fire burns while their self-induced pressure mounts. “We didn’t lose that fight in Costa Rica, but it is what it is,” James affirmed. What the duo has now is another opportunity at the world stage to claim a victory that they felt always belonged to them.Continued on the next page