Beacon of Light: Raquel Miller shines with a unanimous win in the first female boxing match on a ROC Nation fight card

Raquel Miller’s pre-fight public work-out with her coach, four-time Olympic boxing Coach Basheer Abdullah, drew a crowd of press, fighters and an admiring public. The workout was held at HIT Fit at 1150 Sutter St. in San Francisco’s Nob Hill. – Photo: Malaika H. Kambon
Raquel Miller’s pre-fight public work-out with her coach, four-time Olympic boxing Coach Basheer Abdullah, drew a crowd of press, fighters and an admiring public. The workout was held at HIT Fit at 1150 Sutter St. in San Francisco’s Nob Hill. – Photo: Malaika H. Kambon

by Malaika Kambon

She came and she showed us all how it’s done.

Her fans came out to support her in waves. And Raquel “Pretty Beast” Miller did not disappoint.

It is a known fact that boxers always enter the ring to music of their choice, flanked by their crew. It makes a statement.

When it was time for Raquel “Pretty Beast” Miller to enter the ring on Aug. 6, 2016, she came flanked by nine women who entered the Oracle Arena rocking to the strains of Beyonce’s “Formation” and doing Formation Walk moves of their own design and execution.

These 10 women came strong and correct, beautifully dressed, and dynamic: Jimiah Campbell, Shanna Chaney, NieCie Campbell, with boxer Raquel Miller, her young protege, Marley McNealy, and cut woman Jayme Mejia in the center, flanked by Taneshia Miller, Jasmyn Tarrant, Kamela Murphy and Delashon Green.

The ladies who do The Formation Walk in support of Raquel Miller as she enters the ring are, from left, Jimiah Campbell, Shanna Chaney, NieCie Campbell, Raquel Miller and Marley, Taneshia Miller, Jasmyn Tarrant, Kamela Murphy and Delashon Green. – Photo: Malaika H. Kambon
The ladies who do The Formation Walk in support of Raquel Miller as she enters the ring are, from left, Jimiah Campbell, Shanna Chaney, NieCie Campbell, Raquel Miller and Marley, Taneshia Miller, Jasmyn Tarrant, Kamela Murphy and Delashon Green. – Photo: Malaika H. Kambon

It was done intentionally, it will happen again, and it was done specifically to show the unity among women, supporting each other, sharing the light, being strong, powerful and fierce.

“I decided to walk to Beyonce’s song, ‘Formation,’ and ask all of my ladies to walk with me because I felt it was important to show us women strong, beautiful and supporting one another,” said champion boxer Raquel “Pretty Beast” Miller.

“That was the reason I made sure to ask my cut woman to be a part of my walk and corner. To show beautiful women in all roles: boxer, cut woman, accountants, bookkeepers, dental hygienists etc. All beautiful women who support each other.”

Raquel Miller weighed in at 164.2 and Gabrielle Holloway weighed in at 160 at the official weigh-in held at Oakland’s City Hall (Oscar Grant) Plaza. – Photo: Malaika H. Kambon
Raquel Miller weighed in at 164.2 and Gabrielle Holloway weighed in at 160 at the official weigh-in held at Oakland’s City Hall (Oscar Grant) Plaza. – Photo: Malaika H. Kambon

It was a powerful statement, made even more so when Raquel Miller unanimously defeated Gabrielle Holloway as the two women made boxing history on Aug. 6, 2016, in Oakland’s famed Oracle Arena, as the first female boxers to ever fight on a ROC Nation fight card.

She is Raquel “Pretty Beast” Miller, Afrikan woman, boxer extraordinaire, entrepreneur, community leader, decorated amateur and now 2-0 in her professional boxing career.

Team Miller: Jayme Mejia, cut woman; Jairo Escobar, trainer; Raquel Miller; Coach Basheer Abdullah; King Steven Nelson, corner man – Photo: Malaika H. Kambon
Team Miller: Jayme Mejia, cut woman; Jairo Escobar, trainer; Raquel Miller; Coach Basheer Abdullah; King Steven Nelson, corner man – Photo: Malaika H. Kambon

It is a hell of a statement. And considering the rarified air in which she suddenly found herself on no more than a week’s notice, it was a hell of a powerful statement!

Presented by ROC Nation Sports and sponsored by Corona Extra, Verizon, ProSupps, corporate Travel Management Solution (TMS), Brand Jordan, Shoe Palace, Kingsford, Autocom Nissan, Ticketmaster and the Clorox Co., the historic Aug. 6, 2016, event featured seven strong competitive fights. The addition of women boxers strengthened an already vibrant card showcasing some of the world’s best and most renowned up and coming young boxers, pound for pound in their respective divisions.

The Main Event headliner was undefeated, several times world champion Andre “Son of God” Ward, who is now 30-0, 15 KOs, vs. Alexander Brand, now 25-2, 19 KOs. The powerful undercard featured Bilal Mahasin vs. Luis Alfredo Lugo; Daniel Franco vs. Marcello Gallardo; Raquel “Pretty Beast” Miller, now 2-0, 1 KO, vs. Gabrielle Holloway, now 0-2; Darmani Rock vs. Mike Kyle; Junior Younan vs. Jinner Guerrero; Maurice Hooker vs. Tyrone Barnett.

All of the fighters featured by ROC Nation Sports won decisively, either by unanimous decision or, as with Junior Younan and Maurice Hooker, by an impressive knockout minutes into the first round.

Short, chopping inside hooks and straight punches by Raquel Miller counteracted Gabrielle Holloway’s grappling, grabbing fighting style. – Photo: Malaika H. Kambon
Short, chopping inside hooks and straight punches by Raquel Miller counteracted Gabrielle Holloway’s grappling, grabbing fighting style. – Photo: Malaika H. Kambon

Typical of the class and eloquence of Andre Ward, whether inside or outside the boxing ring, his remarks in response to questions about the addition of women fighters to a ROC Nation fight card showed that he is a champion who knows his boxing history.

Recalling the days of Christy Martin fighting on Mike Tyson undercards and the illustrious career of Laila Ali, Mr. Ward nevertheless recognized that women boxers do not get the respect, recognition and exposure that they deserve.

“I think for one, this is a great shot in the arm for women’s boxing,” he said. “Unfortunately, our women do not get the respect they deserve. They do not get the exposure that they should get.

“As you know, Raquel Miller and many other female fighters are doing what we do. They’re training, they’re grinding, but they’re just not always noticed. I remember the days when Christy Martin used to fight on Mike Tyson undercards, and Laila Ali; they got some good publicity, some good shine, but there are so many other young female fighters coming up and women fighters that have been fighting and have been established that we don’t even know about – that people don’t even know about.

“It’s a beautiful thing therefore to have a fighter of Raquel Miller’s stature on the card, I’m excited and happy for her, and I hope that they get their respect. I don’t believe that there isn’t a market for women boxers. Let’s create a market; let’s create some buzz, I’m happy for her.”

Raquel’s own tenacity and skill, combined with advice from her corner, gave her the victory, bringing her professional record to 2-0, 1 KO!
Raquel’s own tenacity and skill, combined with advice from her corner, gave her the victory, bringing her professional record to 2-0, 1 KO!

Ms. Miller was equally as excited as well as analytic and knowledgeable about her chosen profession. Speaking with 48 Hours Out, Inside the Ropes, EsNewsReporting.com, Paul Marcellus TV, Troy King’s BoxingEgo, KNBR Sports and other media before and after her historic fight, Raquel’s comments were on point as she discussed her phenomenal career, her views concerning women boxers, and how important the support of ROC Nation and Andre Ward have been in giving women boxers this important opportunity to shine and create a venue that both showcases and respects the skills of Women Who Box.

“I’m always in the gym fighting my opponent, shadow boxing and competing. I think I should always be competing. That is how you get better.

“This opportunity means everything to me, because it’s right at the door of opportunity. You’ve got to knock and walk on in, or let opportunity pass you by. And it’s not just about what it means for me; it’s about what it means for females, for people from the hood, for low income people, for people who do not have money or silver spoons (in their mouths) people who’re working hard every day.

“So to be given this opportunity by ROC Nation, it’s like when I win, we win. And to have Troy King – who is like my big brother – shouting me out, and for Dre acknowledging me the way he did was everything. Not only was it amazing for Troy to just speak up and say how do you feel about women boxers; but for Dre to acknowledge me the way he did and to have the response that he had was everything. I feel like so many women can just smile and love Andre Ward so much more because he’s ready for us to have our shine too. “

The debonair Mr. Jimmie Miller, Raquel’s dad – Photo: Malaika H. Kambon
The debonair Mr. Jimmie Miller, Raquel’s dad – Photo: Malaika H. Kambon

I really loved it when Raquel said, after the fight: “I definitely feel that as a woman it is important to understand that we’re always beautiful inside and outside the ring. We fight a combat sport, and it’s an aggressive sport, but it doesn’t mean that I have to be masculine to do it.

“So I like to play up my beauty. I love girly stuff, I love pink, I’m a woman and I box. The world needs to get used to it and get out of the notion that women don’t belong in the ring. We belong anywhere we want to be.

“And if I want to box, let me box, just like the fellas. We work hard, we train hard, we deserve it and it’s time for the world to wake up. It’s 2016, we’re fighting, we’re not going to stop.”

This reminded me of Florence Delores Griffith Joyner (Dec. 21, 1959-Sept. 21, 1998, also known as Flo-Jo, who was a track and field athlete and the fastest woman of all time. Her world records, set in 1988 for both the 100 meter and 200 meter still stand and have yet to be seriously challenged.

Flo-Jo also developed a clothing line, created nail products, and established the Florence Griffith Joyner Youth Foundation in 1992 to aid disadvantaged youth. She told children, “Don’t try to be like me; be better than me.” In competition, she wore her designer tights, her nails long, her hair pretty and defeated everyone she ran against, male or female!

On the upcoming Ward vs. Kovalev fight, Ms. Miller had the following analysis: “I definitely think that Ward is the more technical fighter. I think that Kovalev is very strong and very aggressive, but I think that Andre Ward is a technician, and that he’s going to break him (Kovalev) down in the later rounds. And I think that is going to be the decision, that it’s probably going to go to decision, but that Andre Ward is going to be the cleaner fighter, super technical, sharp, that he’s going to get the win.”

Raquel’s opponent, Gabrielle Holloway, was not immediately available for comments before or after the fight; but when asked, Raquel Miller said before the fight, “I do not know much about her, except that she’s a south paw, she came to fight, I came to fight, we came to give a good show, I came to handle my business. I’m thankful to her for coming out, and it’s time to go.”

Fighting in Bout #3 – Raquel Miller vs Gabrielle Holloway, the southpaw from Washington D.C. with a reputation as a tough MMA fighter – Ms. Miller did not disappoint.

Raquel Miller Master Score Sheet 080616Judges Marty Samon, Marcos Rosales, and Michael Tate scored Ms. Miller the unanimous victor with scores of 40-36, 40-36, and 39-37 respectively. Judge Edward Collantes was the center referee.

Of the fight itself, Raquel “Pretty Beast” Miller in defeating Gabrielle “Gabanator” Holloway showed the ring acumen of a professional boxer who can think on her feet, analyze her opponent’s fighting style and develop a game plan to be victorious.

Throughout four two-minute rounds, Ms. Holloway seemed to have been more a grappler than a true boxer – and awkward, utilizing a lot of blocks not specific to boxing while attempting to dodge punches and tie up Ms. Miller’s hands.

Ms. Miller did not get to showcase her tremendous skill and power, due to having to spend an inordinate amount of time freeing herself from Ms. Holloway’s grappling, which was reminiscent of the old Big Time Wrestling TV show.

Twice Ms. Miller dropped Ms. Holloway to the canvas, though not via knockout, more due to her own power, ring generalship and Ms. Holloway’s awkward style of fighting.

Up and coming boxer and birthday girl Marley McNealy with her dad, Bay Area musician Marvin McNealy – Photo: Malaika H. Kambon
Up and coming boxer and birthday girl Marley McNealy with her dad, Bay Area musician Marvin McNealy – Photo: Malaika H. Kambon

Ms. Miller made Ms. Holloway miss punches throughout the night and fought on the inside, gaining a unanimous second professional victory and first victory of a female fighter on a ROC Nation card.

Raquel Miller showed with this victory that she has the ability and growth potential to fight any boxer, no matter what style they bring to the ring.

Ms. Miller is also no stranger to firsts. She is the first female boxer ever to become an elite athlete and reach Olympic alternate status in a two-year meteoric rise to prowess in 2012.

Additionally, she has competed as a several times state and national champion, a silver medalist world boxing champion in Beijing, China, and a bronze medalist in 2016 Olympic Trials competition.

She was also one of the first women to earn membership on the first U.S. Women’s Olympic Boxing Team in 2012 and was offered the opportunity to fight in Afrika, representing Ghana.

Her professional debut was equally as phenomenal, as she won by TKO in 74 seconds into the first round against Sara Flores.

Powerful, brilliant, and more and more becoming a master at her craft after just six years of training and competition, she is also a continual inspiration as a leader in her Bayview Hunters Point community.

Raquel Miller showed with this victory that she has the ability and growth potential to fight any boxer, no matter what style they bring to the ring.

Together with her sister, Taneshia, they have founded Ladies in Power, an organization which empowers young women and girls daily. Through much needed community programs, Ladies in Power founders Raquel and Taneshia bring inspiration and an impressive array of accomplishment to the table, both academic and entrepreneurial, showing what can be done with determination and drive despite obstacles, naysayers and the toxicity of a system designed specifically to un-empower Afrikan people.

After the fight, Ms. Miller did her post fight interviews, stepped back into her high heels and she and her fiance, professional boxer King Steven Nelson, went out to join the crowd, to meet and greet her new Oakland fans, and her many supporters.

Power Forward and Rock On, Raquel!

Malaika H Kambon is a freelance, multi-award winning photojournalist and owner of People’s Eye Photography. She is also an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) state and national champion in Tae Kwon Do from 2007-2012. She can be reached at kambonrb@pacbell.net.