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"Honey Girl".....A Conversation with Melissa Del Valle
By Bernie McCoy
May 6, 2004
(MAY 6) Melissa "Honey Girl" Del Valle may be the ultimate "road game" fighter, being the only woman boxer who's gone into two of the more intimidating "road" venues. Melissa went eight rounds with Isra Girgrah in
Washington, DC in a bout promoted by....Isra Girgrah; in other words Del Valle was fighting the woman who was paying the judges. Melissa also fought ten rounds with Jenifer Alcorn in Lemoore, CA, a venue from which Alcorn rarely strayed and which was probably the ultimate "home court" in Women's boxing.

Asked about the two bouts, Del Valle is, like she is about most things, absolutely unequivocal: "Isra Girgrah definitely didn't beat me, (Girgrah won a unanimous decision last August in a decision that was deemed "controversial") and Alcorn, well, let's just say that place was loaded with her fans and at the end of the bout there was no one who thought she won. Her friends were coming up to me, telling me I got robbed." (Alcorn was awarded a split decision last December despite hitting the canvas, for the first time in her career, in the second round.) And while she's warmed up, Melissa wants to make another thing perfectly clear, "Kelsey (Jeffries) didn't beat me, either." (Jeffries won a six round unanimous decision last July.)

Before one begins to think that Del Valle is somewhat delusional about her past bouts, in spite of her 28-4-1 record, and believes she's never come up on the short end of a decision, she makes it very clear that "Chevelle (Hallback) beat me, Chevelle beat me good." (Hallback won a one sided decision three weeks after Del Valle had fought Girgrah.) It's at this point that Melissa throws her first verbal sneak right hand, "Serrano (Laura) beat me too. She deserved that decision (in August 2000) and the only reason it was called a draw was that it was in "my house" (Miami).

Talk to Melissa Del Valle for any length of time and she'll keep you off balance with her rapid fire conversation, straight from the streets of New York City, where she was raised. She seems to talk in two minute bursts, almost seeming to be waiting for a trainer to call "time". Del Valle is one of the few people I've ever talked to who you feel is trying to look through the phone lines so she can stare straight into your eyes and make sure you believe what she's telling you is "gospel". Intense? Melissa Del Valle goes way beyond intense.

Listen to her talk about how she got started in the sport: "I was dating this fighter and I go to one of his fights. He hits the other guy and the guy goes down so easy. I thought, ' that doesn't look too hard '. Later, I talking to my brother, Louis, and I'm telling him about the fight and he asks ' who's this fighter ' and I say his name's Roy Jones, Jr. Louis says 'Uh, Melissa, that guy makes every fight look easy ' (Lou Del Valle, a former WBA Light heavyweight champ, later lost the title to Jones on a 12 round decision, after having Jones on the canvas in the eighth round). "About that time, my brother saw Christy Martin fight and said to me, ' you can do that '. Next thing I know, I'm in the gym training for the New York Golden Gloves. I win the title the first year and then come back and win again the next year and go to the nationals in Augusta, GA, win five fights, and I'm a national champ. Turning pro was simply the next step up."

During the early part of her professional career, Melissa was criticized for taking a number of "set up" bouts (she fought Shakurah Witherspoon four times). Del Valle, not surprisingly, doesn't step back from the criticism, "The people around me, at the time, were bringing me along slowly, and, to be honest, I wasn't taking boxing as seriously as I should have, I was partying too hard and training too easy."

After her fourth bout with Witherspoon, in September '01, Melissa took nine months off and "got her head together" following a series of upheavals in her personal life, including her mother's illness. In June '02, Del Valle returned to the ring, in a big way, winning a ten round decision over Ada Velez for the WIBA title in one of the featured bouts at the "Texas Shootout", an all-female card in Waco, TX. Since that time, Del Valle has been in with some of the best fighters in the sport: Jeffries, Girgrah, Hallback, Kelli Cofer (a six round win last October) and Alcorn. "I got serious and I took the sport seriously" is how Melissa describes her reincarnation, "I'm a hungry fighter now and I want to be in with the best fighters."

Del Valle gets her wish on May 30 in Washington, DC in the main event of an all-female card promoted by W.I.S.T. Promotions. She's in with Trish Hill, newly crowned WIBA featherweight champ. (It was recently reported that Hill was stripped of the title as the result of a urine sample following the championship fight. The WIBA also reported, in their opinion, Hill took and illegal substance, unknowingly.) Nonetheless, Del Valle looks forward to May 30, "Trish is my size (Melissa is 5' 4'') and I know she has a big punch, but I'm confident I'll come out with a win. I never look past any fighter, especially a good fighter like Hill, but I hope to have another fight in July and then matchup with Jessica Rakoczy in September out in California. After that, who knows, I might go up in weight and try Sumya Anani. She's at the top right now and I fought on a couple of cards with her and I know she'd probably have no problem giving me a fight. Sumya is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet....outside the ring, but once that bell rings, here comes ' Mr. Hyde ' from the other corner. I'd really love to have that challenge."

At this point in her career, Melissa Del Valle is all about challenges. She went to Washington, DC and thinks she beat the promoter; she went to California and she knows she beat the hometown favorite. Thus the best pound/pound fighter, Sumya Anani, is simply another "step up". If you doubt it, all you have to do is get Melissa on the phone and after a few two minute bursts of conversation, she'll go a long way towards convincing you, while at the same time seeming to look you right in the eyes....over the phone.

Bernie McCoy


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