Hay River-born boxer Jelena Mrdjenovich is training hard for her re-match against Melissa Hernandez (15-2-3), the last fighter to beat her in the ring.
On Sept. 14 at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Mrdjenovich’s Women’s International Boxing Association featherweight title will be on the line against a boxer many thought lost last year’s bout between them.
Highly controversial scorecards from two of the three judges in Hernandez’s favor have left Mrdjenovich with a bitter taste for revenge.
“It was a hard fight with Melissa last year,” she said.
“It was a full out war. I thought I’d won and even noticed her kind of accepting defeat before the judges made their announcements. I was very disappointed but this time I won’t leave it up to the judges.”
Since the loss, Mrdjenovich has scored four comfortable wins (two by KO) and has improved her record to 28-8-1, with 14 KOs.
She believes she’s evolved as a fighter, as opposed to Hernandez.
“The events from last year have turned me into a different fighter now,” she said.
“Last year I fought Melissa after coming off of a few losses. I was trying to keep my composure and be patient by punching at the right time. Now, I’ve been working hard on my jab, my output is higher and my hitting is stronger. I’ve worked with a strength conditioner and focused on my core strength and explosiveness, and I think it’s really paid off in the last three or four fights. Melissa is a good fighter but I don’t think she’s changed much since last year.”
Mrdjenovich last fought in the NWT in May 2006, when she defeated Franchesca Alcanter in Yellowknife. She says she would love the opportunity to fight in the North again.
“I’d love to but it’s hard with the promotion,” she said.
“If there was an opportunity it’s definitely something we (her promoter and her) would look at. I had a blast when I fought in Yellowknife and being able to fight in front of so many people who supported my family and myself was great.”
Despite not coming to Hay River for a long time, she said she got an unexpected taste of it at her last fight.
“These two guys drove up from Hay River to see my bout,” she said.
“They were just fans who heard I was fighting, and came out to see my brother after the fight so we hung out together for a bit, it was great.”
– Myles Dolphin