Raquel ”Pretty Beast” Miller
By Felipe Leon
When you believe in yourself, nothing much can stop you and that belief can be contagious. That is the feeling when you speak to or if you are lucky enough to be around undefeated middleweight contender Raquel “Pretty Beast” Miller (8-0, 3KO) of San Francisco, CA.
She’s taking her next big step towards a world title this upcoming Saturday night when she faces veteran Erin Toughill (7-4-1) for the vacant NABF middleweight title. The eight-round fight will headline a fight card at the Hawaiian Gardens Casino in Hawaiian Gardens, CA, just outside of Los Angeles.
“You have to see it this Saturday,” Miller said with a laugh when asked about what she needs to do against Toughill to get the win. “Can’t talk about our upcoming preparations. You’ll see it when we fight. I tip my hat to Toughill, she is a tough opponent. I am not overlooking her. I don’t overlook anybody and I definitely don’t overlook Toughill. I expect her to go in there and want to win, I expect her to push me to want to fight. That is what I am looking forward to.”
Although a lifelong boxing fan since her entire family would get in front of the TV set to watch Mike Tyson fights, Miller, 34, didn’t step into a boxing gym until her mid twenties, and eight months later she found herself in her first amateur fight.
As an amateur she was an alternate in the first female USA boxing team for the 2012 Olympics and a bronze medalist in the 2016 Olympic trials. She received many other accolades while facing the likes of Claressa Shields, Franchon Crews Dezurn and others in the unpaid ranks.
“I think amateur boxing is a variable in getting a lot of experience. It really helps you with your platform turning pro,” Miller explained. “You are more relaxed, you are more poised, and you’ve fought fighters from all around the world. I also think pro boxing in a sense is easier to prepare for. I think amateur boxing can be more challenging at times in my opinion especially when you are fighting at that world class level because you don’t have time to game plan specifically for one fighter.”
“You are fighting top amateurs from everywhere in the world in a world tournament,” she continued. “You might fight five times and you might fight a southpaw, you might fight a person who is aggressive, you might have to fight a boxer, so you constantly have to change your game. I think it is definitely two different sports. Having that experience definitely helps you out in the pros.”
After an extensive amateur career she turned pro in 2016, but the initial seed was planted at home while sitting on the couch next to her boxing fan mother.
“I have always loved boxing, my mom was a big boxing fan and I grew up with Christy Martin,” she reminisced during an exclusive interview with the 2Min Round, the all-female boxing podcast. “I grew up in that area where we all sat in front of the TV and watched Mike Tyson and Christy Martin was on the undercard in her pink trunks and that made me want to be a fighter. I was excited and I thought Christy Martin was amazing. She was primetime and action packed. That is when I really developed a real love for the sport and knew I wanted to be a fighter.”
Now eight fights in as a professional with Lou DiBella as her promoter, and Split-T Management and trainer Basheer Abdullah rounding out her team, Miller, who trains out of San Diego, CA, is ready for the next level and thinks female boxing is on the verge of going to the next level as well.
“The fact that it is getting to a point where people are tuning, are engaged, people are having rivalries and putting bets,” she said of the current state of female boxing. “That is a beautiful thing to get to see because for women’s boxing it hasn’t been that exciting for a long time. That is exciting to see especially since my name is about to be on those lights. I am hyped up. I’m charged up and feeding off the energy. It’s exciting.”
Before all that, Miller must get past the 41-year-old Toughill of Huntington Beach, CA, by way of Chicago. Toughill is considered a tough veteran who, after cutting her teeth in professional boxing, opted to switch to MMA. Last January Toughill dropped a controversial unanimous decision to Maricela Cornejo after 13 years outside of a boxing ring.
“Yes, I did check out the fight. I thought Toughill won the fight. I think they gave the fight to Cornejo,” Miller said of the televised eight rounder. “I thought Toughill did enough to win the fight. I thought Cornejo had her moments, she scored some right hands, she boxed off her back foot but if I had to judge the rounds based on aggression and on Toughill pushing the action, pressing forward, I give Toughill the decision.”
“I think they bring a lot of experience to the ring, I think you can’t overlook them just because they have been out of the game for a long time,” she said of Toughill’s experience. “I feel like they are crafty, they are veterans, they have ring experience so I definitely think they pose a threat. They come to win, they come to fight so I respect them and tip my hat for still being in the game and pushing their boundaries.”
Miller is coming off a split decision six round win over Ashleigh Curry last February in Texas. The fact it was split decision win, her first as a pro, might have people think it was tough fight but, according to Miller, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
“No, it wasn’t and I am pretty pissed off about that to be truthful with you,” she explained. “I am really looking forward in fighting Toughill and not to take anything away from Ashley Curry, but you know I thought she came to fight but I was pretty ticked off with the Texas Athletic Commission because the judge he mixed us up, she thought I was her and she was me, so she judged the fight as if we were each other so the decision pissed me off because my record should reflect what the fight was.”
“I put in the complaint and the complaint is being disputed right now but no, it wasn’t my toughest fight and I am pretty irritated the judge doesn’t know enough to know the fighters who step into the ring,” she explained. “Hopefully through my fight and them to right their wrong, it helps other athletes stand up for themselves. The win is a win, no it is not, it is not the same thing and you are not going to put a win on my record that I didn’t get. Everything I get, I want to own it, I want to earn it and I deserve it, nothing more, nothing less. I don’t want the split decision on my record. I want it to be what it was which was a unanimous decision and it going to get changed.”
Fighting in the 160-pound division, Miller intently watched the mega-clash between Claressa Shields and Christina Hammer last month knowing that either one could be a future opponent.
“I watched it on TV, I had an event that night, I had my Fight Like a Girl event, that is our annual weekend for our event or I would have been at the fight supporting the ladies,” Miller said. “It was exciting, it was electrifying, I thought that Hammer was going to bite down and bring it a little harder but I thought it was exciting. It was electrifying to see that much momentum and that much intention and support going to the women. It was a good fight, I was excited for them and happy I got to see it.”
With a win over Toughill in her next fight, Miller expects to face a big name in the division. She has done her part by keeping the heat simmering with highly contentious altercations with Maricela Cornejo and unified middleweight champion Claressa Shields.
“I am still looking forward to that fight with Cornejo. We definitely have some unfinished business we definitely need to handle,” she said of the highly publicized face-off in a Las Vegas casino some years ago. “I don’t care about what she is living with, I don’t care about her losses, she still has to come and get this ass whipping. I know this is a business and that it is not always on the up and up so I commend her for still pushing through and still staying in the game. A lot of times it is hard to keep pushing when you don’t get the opportunities, you don’t get the support, you don’t get the money. I don’t know what personally she is going through and I don’t have any personal issues with nobody but when it comes to fighting, I am definitely still looking forward to fighting Cornejo. I know we are going to meet down the line really soon.”
“We go back and forth and when I see her in person the same way I stepped to Cornejo I stepped to Shields,” she said of her much longer feud with Claressa. “I am not an Internet talker, I am an action-type person. We have our rivalry; we go back and forth, I am looking forward to the fight. I have no personal issues with her. I just know when I see her, I am going to see her and I know it is going down. I know I am doing my thing and I am getting that ‘W’. Talk is cheap, she can say, ‘Raquel is a bum, she is scared.’ Not true.”
To listen to the complete unedited interview, please visit BlogTalkRadio.com/2MinRound