Not all fairytale stories in boxing have a happy ending. Some chapters close long before they’re expected to, and others benefit from a much-needed plot twist along the way, but the defining characteristic in boxing’s most appreciated narratives is the fighter’s never-ending will to succeed.
The story of “Much Too Much” Marvin Cordova is similar to many you’ve probably heard in the past, but with its own unique peaks and valleys. One third of the way through 2021, the 36-year-old Colorado native is steadily preparing for a year he expects to be the official relaunch of his career, one in which he can bury his past for good and set sail toward much greener pastures.
Cordova (23-2-1, 12 KOs) hasn’t fought since January of 2020 – a victim, like many, of COVID-19’s crippling effect on the industry – and only twice since 2010, the longer layoff stemming from two separate trips to prison totaling eight years during the prime of his career, the result of what he calls “bad decision-making” in his early 20s.
Teamed with living legend Jimmy Burchfield Sr., longtime promoter and CES Boxing president who is often lauded for his knowledge, wisdom, and relationships in building world champions, Cordova is confident the best is yet to come.
“Before I took on this project, I wanted to make sure Marvin was serious about this comeback,” Burchfield said. “Once I heard that passion in his voice, I was all in. He has a beautiful wife and two beautiful daughters. Now the team is all set to go.”
With his deep-rooted amateur background and experience as a pro, it’s not inconceivable for this lifelong journey to feature a Hollywood ending. Cordova could be the next real-life Rocky Balboa – a story that will pique the interest of network executives and boxing media alike.
The way he sees it, he has “six good years” left in the tank, which gives him plenty of time to achieve his dream of winning world titles in multiple weight classes. Whoever stands in his way, he intends to mow down, whether it’s the Charlo brothers – unified light middleweight champion Jermell and WBC middleweight title-holder Jermall – or even Rhode Island’s Demetrius Andrade, reigning WBO middleweight champ.
“I can compete with any of these guys,” said Cordova. “I’m going to be on top of the boxing world for a long time, and it’s going to be a great story along with a great run.”
The journey began decades ago when Cordova, the great grandson of the late Rafael Garcia – longtime cutman for Floyd Mayweather Jr. – thrived on the amateur circuit, fighting 242 times with wins over two-time middleweight world champion Daniel Jacobs, 31-fight vet Willie Nelson, and former WBA 154-pound champ Austin Trout. He won a bronze medal in the 2002 U.S. U-19 Championships and advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials, competing mostly in the 152-pound range.
After turning pro in 2004 at the age of 19, Cordova won his first 12 fights, including eight by knockout, and 16 of his first 17 with the only blemish a draw against eventual welterweight world champion Virgil Ortiz, a fight that was stopped early due to an accidental head butt. He lost hotly-contested battles with Filipino sensation Dennis Laurente and world-title challenger Josesito Lopez in 2009 and 2010, respectively, before his legal troubles began in 2012.
An extended period of time away from the sport would deter many fighters, especially those in their mid- to late 30s, but Cordova remains optimistic knowing the worst is behind him. He draws inspiration from the great Bernard Hopkins, who spent six years in prison, turned pro at 23, lost his first fight, and still went on to win multiple world titles in two weight classes in addition to becoming the oldest fighter to capture a world title at the age of 49, breaking his own record twice.
Time may not necessarily on Cordova’s side, but his health and wellbeing are; with seven years off between 2010 and 2017, the 5-foot-9 right-hander has not sustained as much damage as most fighters his age, which he believes will be beneficial as he continues his second comeback later this year. Older athletes succeeding late in their careers is not unprecedented, as Cordova points out; the iconic Manny Pacquiao upended Lucas Martin Matthysse, Adrien Broner, and Keith Thurman between the ages of 39 and 40, and NFL legend Tom Brady just won his seventh Super Bowl ring at 43. Why not Cordova?
“I’m faster now than when I was younger,” Cordova said. “I’m wiser in the ring, and I’m just as hungry as I’ve ever been. I don’t have a lot of wear and tear. I’m going to prove a lot of people wrong. My ring generalship is second to none.”
Assembling the right team was the first priority. In 2019, Cordova joined forces with Burchfield, who has a strong reputation throughout the sport for bringing fighters to the top of the mountain and taking a gamble on what some would consider reclamation projects. As a father figure to many boxers, Burchfield brings a calming influence and an air of confidence unmatched by most promoters. Cordova affectionally refers to him as “Uncle Jimmy.”
“I love him,” Cordova said. “I’m so happy to be signed by CES, and thankful for this opportunity. He always tells me, ‘Just dedicate yourself your craft, and every time you fight, it’s your time to go out and shine. The only thing he can’t do for me is go out in the ring and fight.’ He will take care of the rest.”Our goal is to win these titles, get this money, and set myself up for the long haul. There’s no way we can lose.”
Cordova also has the undying support of his wife, Lori, who’s also his manager and a former Golden Gloves champion from her own amateur days. The two have been together since they were 16 years old and now have two daughters together, 14 and 15 years old. Everyone in the family except Marvin caught COVID-19; his daughters came down with it last summer and Lori had it roughly three months ago. To make matters worse, Marvin and Lori were forced to shut down their gym during the pandemic, which is a major source of their income. Like many families, they dealt with the physical and financial effects of COVID, which brought them closer together and forced them to rethink their priorities.
Now, with his family and promoter in his corner, a strong team in the gym that includes head trainer and strength coach Paul Andrada and assistant Arron Bencomo, and several sponsors – A to Z Towing in Pueblo, Randy Lopez CDL Training & Testing, Arlene’s Bail Bonds, among others – Cordova already feels like he’s conquered the hardest part of the climb. The rest comes naturally.
The last time he stepped in the ring, his CES debut more than a year ago, he stopped former world-title challenger Hector Velazquez within four rounds. He was well on his way to a busy 2020 before the pandemic struck. Even though the past year and a half has forced him to hit the reset button, the goal remains the same; campaigning in the 160-pound range, Cordova is confident he can compete either at middleweight or junior welterweight – wherever “the money is right” – and he also hasn’t ruled out dropping back to 147, where he campaigned during the prime of his career between 2005 and 2007.
“Much Too Much” remains as confident as ever, one of many champion hopefuls aiming to emerge from this long pandemic to recapture past glory and write new chapters in their ever-evolving sagas. With the right script, Cordova may someday be the one fighters look up to for inspiration, delivering a powerful message of perseverance against all odds.
“As long as you keep pushing and keep working hard, anything can happen,” he said. “Hard works makes easy work.”