San Diego, Calif., January 24, 2019 – Boxing appeals to athletes and fans alike as a metaphor for life. Individuals prepare themselves to meet and defeat their challenges. Sometimes they prevail, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they get knocked down. What matters is whether they get back up.
Former super middleweight Maricela Cornejo (12-3, 5 KOs) of Los Angeles has never been stopped in the ring, or by life’s hardest blows. Cornejo kicks off 2019 with her first fight at super welterweight in the return of Tom Loeffler’s 360 Promotions’ ‘Hollywood Fight Nights’ series at the Avalon Nightclub in Hollywood, California on Sunday, January 27. Cornejo faces Erin Toughill (7-3) of Huntington Beach for local bragging rights in the eight round bout.
“I’m very excited, I can’t wait to be there and fight in Los Angeles. Fighting in LA is always special, it’s always good to fight,” said Cornejo. After working toward the WBC super middleweight title but coming up short against Franchon Crews-Dezurn last September in an ESPN televised fight, Cornejo decided to give the super welterweight division a try instead. “There’s never a right thing to do, just stay true to yourself and put the work in. When you put the work in, people will see that. That’s what takes you to the next level.”
Boxing teaches many life lessons
Cornejo came to boxing through improbable circumstances, hoping merely to get in shape and leave a problematic past including childhood abuse behind. Boxing became its own motivation for Cornejo. “You have to be a little bit crazy. Like the world, you have to have love for it. With love, anything is possible,” said Cornejo.
At age 31, Cornejo has accumulated plenty of personal wisdom through boxing, some of it the hard way. “Boxing is like life, no one goes through life without a struggle,” said Cornejo. “You have to ask yourself at the end of a loss, ‘what can I learn from it when we fall? How do we come out of this loss? How do we find the strength and spirit, mostly spirit, to get back up?’
“Truly what I learned, is me staying true to myself … As long as I can look in the mirror and tell the truth behind any fall or struggle in life, what will come out of that loss is being stronger, wiser.
“Don’t let it take your soul. Don’t let it break your heart. I came out of that – happier, because I knew the truth behind a lot of things. Obviously I wasn’t happier at the time I was down. You mourn about it, but at the end you see a little bit clearer,” said Cornejo.
Hollywood Fight Night headline opportunity about “having fun”
Cornejo, always one of the world’s most popular professional boxers on the women’s side, said she knows the boxing world will be watching her performance at the Avalon, and welcomes it.
“I know I’m going to have a lot of eyes on me to see if I have anything left in the tank,” said Cornejo. “I have to go out there and have fun, and do what I know I have to do – and fight. That’s the only way we’re going to make a change in the sport.
“When we have an opportunity to headline, we need to perform at the end of the day. We need to entertain the people. I have to take responsibility for that. I’m excited for it.”
Cornejo says her opponent is among the tallest woman she’s faced as a professional at 5-10. Toughill, who’s faced quality opponents including Laila Ali, hasn’t been in the ring in some time. But she’s had her eye on her fellow Southern Californian. “She called me out a year ago, finally decided the opportunity was right, it’s a local event, and it made sense,” said Cornejo.
Cornejo won’t underestimate Toughill
What Cornejo won’t do in the bout is take her opponent lightly. “Hey, she wants to come back in the game – she has nothing to lose,” said Cornejo. “She’s going to put up a fight. I’m not allowing people to say, ‘oh, this will be a walk in the park.’ One hit can change the game.”
Both Cornejo and Toughill follow a plant-based diet, and Cornejo finds this aspect of the fight intriguing. Changing her diet has allowed her to pursue a title in the super welterweight division. “I leaned out so much in the past year, I lost so much body fat. That’s why I went down a division.
“Eating plant-based, I truly just listen to my body, after dealing with a lot of eating disorders at a young age,” said Cornejo, who openly shares her struggle with other women who have battled their body image. “Making weight and gaining weight after fights, I’m at a place in my life where I appreciate the nutrients I put into my body. I’m sure many other women work on getting comfortable with our bodies. I’m at an age where I love my body and love what I can do with it and put it through. It’s a peaceful time of my life.”
Cornejo says she’s focused only on Sunday’s fight, and says while she still has many things she wants to achieve as a boxer, she’s also working on exciting non-boxing related projects she will pursue when she can turn the page.
“We’re all in this world, we’re human … Boxing is just a small part of my life, very very small part. I’m here to be the best me in this world. If I’m able to show somebody that life has knocked me down so many times, you can choose to be somebody’s light in their darkness. It’s all a choice. At the end of the day we’re all the same. We all have a story. I try to remind myself every day,” said Cornejo.
Sunday card streamed live for fans worldwide
On the undercard, top undefeated welterweight prospect Brian Ceballo, (6-0-0, 3 KOs) of New York will fight Randy Fuentes, (8-7-1, 2 KOs) of McAllen, Texas in the six-round co-feature.
Light heavyweight contender Israel ‘Bumaye’ Duffus, (19-5-0, 16 KOs), of Los Angeles tests undefeated prospect Juan ‘Sky’ Barajas, (7-0-0, 5 KOs) of Victorville, California in a six round bout.
Junior lightweight prospect Adrian ‘Bam Bam’ Corona, (3-0-0), age 18, of Rialto, California, faces veteran Guadalupe Arroyo of Huntington Beach.
“We’re very excited to kick off the 2019 season of Hollywood Fight Nights with an evening of great fights on Sunday, January 27 at the Avalon,” said promoter Loeffler. “Our first four events last year were very successful and our shows have become one of the most popular nights on the Southern California boxing schedule. Maricela Cornejo is one of the most popular female fighters in the United States and will be making her debut at junior middleweight.”
Advance tickets priced between $60 and $150 for VIP ring apron seat are on sale online at www.360Promotions.us VIP Booths are also available by inquiring at [email protected]. Doors open at 3 p.m. with the first bell at 4 p.m.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News.
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