By Mike Anderson

Melinda Watpool, a five-time national amateur boxing champion, is set to fight her first professional bout on September 9 at the CAA Centre in Brampton.

Watpool, 33, who lives on her family’s farm on Lake Ridge Rd in Pefferlaw, won her first amateur fight in 2007 at 18 and has since won over 60 fights.

Her amateur career has taken her worldwide, travelling with Canada’s national team to two world championships and multiple international tournaments in Russia, Turkey and China.

“I’m looking forward to taking it to the next level,” Watpool said. “It’s a different sport. There’s an entertainment aspect to it.”

“A few friends have gone professional after good amateur careers, and I’ve worked some of their corners. So just seeing that, I thought I could do this.”

A recent trip to New York’s Madison Square Garden, a mecca for professional boxing, also influenced her decision to turn pro.

Watpool saw two female boxers, Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano, featured for the first time as the main event.

“The place was packed. They got paid pretty good money. And people were supportive. It was a really good fight,” said Watpool, who is confident she can succeed in the pro boxing world.

“You have to put in your time and have the right people around you. But there are opportunities to do well.”

Watpool definitely has the right person in her corner. Her coach is Dewith Frazer, who owns Dewith’s Boxing Club in Mississauga. Frazer is a former olympian and three-time Olympic boxing coach.

Watpool lands a punch during one of her amateur fights
Poster promoting upcoming pro fight in Brampton

While COVID wreaked havoc with her training regime, Watpool stayed in shape by lifting weights, running on country roads, and sparing whenever she could.

“Boxers don’t have to run far because our fights aren’t technically that long,” she said. “You’re doing between five and six kilometres, but at a faster pace.”

“I have a heavy bag in my garage that I use as well. And then I do conditioning with weights. My older sister is a kettlebell lifter. So, it’s been really good.”

Still, Watpool hasn’t been able to formulate much of a game plan because there isn’t any video of her opponent.

“I don’t know much about her. I know she is from Mexico and has one win by a knockout and one loss by a knockout,” she said.

But Watpool’s not worried.

“With amateur fights, you get that too. You often don’t know who you’re fighting,” she said.

“You have a little bit of a game plan, but sometimes you have to change in the fight. And, you’re looking to your coach sometimes to recognize what you need to change. And some of it, you have to recognize yourself.”

Watpool is thankful her family supports her as she begins a new boxing career.

“I probably would’ve done it, even without their support. But it makes a big difference. I’m lucky to have them. They help a lot,” she said.

She also gets plenty of encouragement from folks in the community.

“People are excited about it. And they have a lot of questions. I also work at Pefferlaw Hardware, so a lot of the customers have seen the poster and like to talk about it. They seem pretty into it,” she said.

Watpool says she’s always been fascinated with the sport, watching every boxing movie and documentary she can get her hands on.

She laughs when asked if she identifies more with Rocky Balboa or Apollo Creed from the classic Rocky films.

“I’m a little bit of a combination of the two,” she said.

“I can move and jab and be a little bit slick, but I can brawl as well. So I feel like I’ve got the best of both.”

Tickets for Watpool’s first pro fight with United Boxing Promotions, scheduled for Friday, September 9 at 7 p.m., are available on Ticketmaster.ca.

Ticket prices range from $40 to $58. Enter Melinda as a coupon code before you select your tickets to get five per cent off.

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