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Jelena Mrdjenovich
Copyrighted photo taken by Mary Ann Owen

 
   

5'7" lightweight Jelena Mrdjenovich was born in Hay River in Canada's Northwest Territories on June 24, 1982 and now boxes out of the Panther Gym in Edmonton, Alberta.

Mrdjenovich played basketball for the University of Alberta and tore  her ACL. While convalescing she watched boxing on TV and her father, a long-time boxing fan, suggested that she might find it a good sport. She headed to the gym once she had healed up, and never looked back.

She had 15 amateur bouts (including exhibitions). On January 20, 2002 in the 60-kg final of the 2002 Canadian National Championships in St. Catharines, Ontario, Jelena lost by a 50-31 tally to the  formidable Debbie Richards of London, Ontario to take the silver medal. (Richards was the 1998 Canadian national champion, defeating future pro star Jaime Clampitt, and was voted "best boxer" in this 2002 tournament. She went on to win the 2003 and 2004 Canadian national championships.)

Since turning pro, Mrdjenovich has been trained by family friend Milan Lubovac. “He originally started coaching me because of my dad," says Mrdjenovich. "I left my old gym, and started training with him and we get along really well. He has coached just about everybody. His big fighter was Tony Badea. I think I have full trust and confidence in Milan, who is my coach, my promoter, my matchmaker. We’re taking steps, we’re going about it the right way. I know a lot of people would like to see me jump in against someone who is 20-0, 16-0. Right now I am fighting people with my ring experience, which I should be.”

On January 24, 2003 at Shaw Conference Center in Edmonton, Alberta, a nearly full house of 1100 saw Jelena (134 lbs) win her pro debut over Cathy Boyes (135 lbs) of Kamloops, British Columbia by TKO at 1:19 in the fourth round of a scheduled four-rounder. Mrdjenovich overpowered Boyes, who had yet to notch a win in five pro bouts. Mrdjenovich moved Boyes around the ring with ease, landing telling combinations and digging left hooks. The bout was stopped after Boyes was wobbled by a hard right to the head. "Jelena showed her strength and pushed her around," said Mrdjenovich's trainer Milan Lubovac. "She showed she was professional enough to beat her up and made it look easy."

"It felt good to end it the way I did", said Mrdjenovich. Boyes, who fell to 0-5 had previously served as a stepping stone for the pro boxing careers of several other Canadian fighters, including Olivia Gerula in 1998 and Jaime Clampitt in 2000, but she hadn't fought professionally since losing to Clampitt in September 2000.

On September 12, 2003 at Crowne Plaza-Chateau Lacombe in Edmonton, Jelena (130 lbs) advanced to 2-0-0 (2 KO) with an easy first-round KO of pro debuter Robin Bealieu (130 lbs) of Fort Smith, Northwest Territories.

On December 5, 2003 at Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Jelena (130 lbs) improved to 3-0-0 (2 KO) with a four-round majority (38-38,39-37,39-37) decision over Olga Heron (129 lbs) of  Mississauga, Ontario. Mrdjenovich had the size and strength advantage over Heron but Olga kept pressing forward to make it an exciting fight. Mrdjenovich was frequently warned for dirty tactics and had a point deducted for pushing Heron's head down. Heron fell to 3-2-0 (1 KO) after two tough back-to-back losses.

On January 16, 2004 at Fort Garry Place in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Jelena (135 lbs) improved her pro record to 4-0-0 (3 KO) with a TKO over unranked Shannon Gunville (131 lbs) of Bismarck, North Dakota who fell to 1-1-0 (0 KO) when she failed to answer the bell for the third round.

On May 14 2004 at Crowne Plaza in Edmonton, 700 fans saw Jelena (135 lbs) knock out Ragan Pudwill (135 lbs) of Mandan, North Dakota in the first round. Mrdjenovich scored three knockdowns on the way to the KO. She had no trouble working her jab against the shorter Pudwill, and used this to frustrate the American and set up other punches. About one minute into the round she backed Pudwill into the ropes and landed a hard left hook to body followed by a left-hook to the head that dropped Pudwill. Pudwill got up to only be dropped again by a one-two combination to her body. She got off the canvas but was dropped a third time by a left hook to the body. Pudwill had previously gone four rounds with Mia St. John and and been stopped in the fourth round by Jaime Clampitt. “She did better than ever,” said Mrdjenovich’s coach Milan Lubovac. “She was physically ready, but I didn’t want her to stop her that fast, I wanted more rounds.” Mrdjenovich was pleased with her win, saying "This win shows me that I am doing the right things. The jab and the body punching worked well.” The win raised Mrdjenovich’s record to 5-0 with 4 KO’s, and dropped Pudwill to 3-10.

On June 25, 2004 at Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Jelena (129 lbs) won a clear six-round unanimous (60-54,60-54,59-55) decision in a rematch with Olga Heron (128 lbs) of Mississauga, Ontario. This fight was not a crowd-pleaser as Heron’s defensive style and Mrdjenovich’s eagerness to score a KO led to more holding and wrestling than clean hitting. Mrdjenovich scored points in the first two rounds with a steady barrage of jabs and left hook combo to the body and head, but her preferred tactic until the near the end of the fight appeared to be a lead left hook followed by a forearm to the side of Heron's head and pushing her opponent's head down. Although she was warned numerous times, no points were deducted. Mrdjenovich was less effective than usual with her jab, despite having a clear reach advantage and was not pleased with her performance. “I didn’t do anything we worked on in training,” she said. “I fought her fight. I got frustrated, her coming under the jab. I should have stepped out and let her come to me. She executed everything really well and I think I got frustrated.”  Heron fell to 5-8-2 with this loss.

On September 24, 2004 at the Convention Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Jelena (130 lbs) started slow, got behind, then knocked out local favorite Olivia Gerula (128 lbs) at 1:13 in the fourth round of a scheduled six-rounder. Pereira fell straight back onto the canvas from a left hook, hit her head on the canvas, and needed several minutes to recover. Mrdjenovich improved to 7-0-0 (5 KO) with the win, dropping Gerula to 5-8-2 with her first loss by KO.

"I'm certainly happy with the way this one ended," said Mrdjenovich. "It took me three rounds to get going, but I cracked at the end of the third and if I'd have had two more seconds, I could have ended it right there. In the fourth, I knew she was hurt. I hit her with a clean hit right and then followed the second with a left hook and that was it."

According to Jelena's trainer Milan Lubovac: "Jelena doesn't like anything negative around her. I believe she started slow because she was fighting in a different town against a girl who'd never been stopped before and in her hometown. I got a little upset with her and told her she had to start punching. I told her that if (Pereira) was going to let her hit her that she had to put her away. She got punching and that was it."

On October 15, 2005 at the Radisson Hotel at the airport in Calgary, Alberta, Jelena (132 lbs) won a six-round unanimous (60-54) decision over an aggressive Tracy Carlton (133 lbs) of Compton, California. Mrdjenovich battered the tough, 5'10" Californian throughout the fight, dishing out punishing combinations behind a stiff jab. Each round followed the same script,  with Carlton coming out throwing punches and Mrdjenovich using her defense to slip or deflect most of the incoming blows. Mrdjenovich would then press forward behind her jab and land almost at will later in the round. As the fight progressed Mrdjenovich’s superior conditioning also became a big advantage. Carlton fell to 0-6-1 with the loss.  

"The key for me fighting better has been to relax more," said Mrdjenovich. "By fighting six instead of four rounds, I don't have to rush. I can relax and just let my hands go instead of tensing up and hoping to score the big knockout. "Even when I'm relaxed, I still have my power. In Winnipeg, the first two rounds I tried too hard and tensed up. In the third and fourth, I felt like I wasn't even punching her but the power was there."

On November 12, 2004 at Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Jelena won a six-round unanimous (58-55,57-56,57-56) decision over Lisa Lewis of Fresno, California. Lewis aggressively pressured Jelena throughout the bout while Mrdjenovich tried to outbox her. The turning point came in the fourth when Mrdjenovich decked Lewis with a big overhand right. Lewis got up quickly and continued to pressure Mrdjenovich, but the knockdown provided an edge for Jelena on the final scorecards.  Lewis fell to 7-10.

“She kept coming forward, she wouldn’t stop coming,” said Mrdjenovich. “She made me work. She was tough."  Milan Lubovac said that the bout was a good leaning tool for his fighter.  “Lewis has fought a couple of world champions, and went the distance with them and has never been dropped in her life, so it is a good experience.” 

On February 12, 2005, at the Ramada Inn City Centre in Edmonton, former IFBA Featherweight and GBU Junior Welterweight champion Layla McCarter (133 lbs) of Las Vegas handed Jelena (132 lbs) her first loss with a one-sided (59-55,59-55,59-56) six round unanimous decision. McCarter dominated this bout from the opening bell and right through the six-round bout. "My trainer told me to come out, fake the jab and throw a right. I did and it landed perfectly," said McCarter, "that set the pace and I think I earned a bit of respect from Jelena."  McCarter proceeded to dominate the bout with her combinations. Mrdjenovich landed her best shot of the night in the final round, but it was too little too late. McCarter improved to 18-11-4 (2 KOs).

Mrdjenovich had a different take on the loss: "I thought it was a draw. She never hurt me and I know I hurt her. Had it gone two more rounds, I know it would have been a different story. What I learned most is that I have to punch to win - I have to let my hands go. I can't win a fight waiting to counter-punch and looking for the KO.''

On March 16, 2005 at Ranchman's Bar in Calgary, Jelena (132 lbs) fought a rematch with Tracy Carlton (130 lbs) of Compton, California, this time winning a scheduled six-rounder by a TKO at 1:14 in the second round. Mrdjenovich went to the canvas in the first round but she says "While Tracy and I were in a clinch, she was laying on my back with all of her weight and I fell down."  Carlton faded in the second and referee Len Koivisto stopped the bout when Carlton failed to fight back after Jelena pinned her on the ropes with combinations. Carlton fell to 0-8-1.

Accordng to Jelena, "The reason why I fought Tracy Carlton again, was because that is who the promoters insisted on bringing down to fight (I guess that she is moving to Calgary and is now going to be trained out of there) . So really I had no choice in who the opponent was, the only choice that I had was whether or not I wanted to fight."

On April 23, 2005 at Shaw Convention Centre in Edmonton, Jelena had little difficulty dispensing with Shakurah Witherspoon of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, winning by a TKO at 1:50 in the first round of a scheduled six-rounder.  Jelena staggered Witherspoon with a left to the body and then banged away with lefts and rights. Near the end, Mrdjenovich backed off a slumped-over Witherspoon before wailing away again until referee Len Koivisto stopped the one-sided barrage.  "I realized that I have a lot of juice," said Mrdjenovich, "I can go six rounds two minutes, ten rounds two minutes - as many as I can dish out. I'm not going back. I want to leave it all out there for everybody to see."  Witherspoon fell to 11-40-1.

On June 18, 2005 at Shaw Convention Centre in Edmonton, Jelena (134 lbs) obtained a measure of revenge over Layla McCarter (129 lbs) of Las Vegas, with an eight-round unanimous  (78-75,79-74, 79-73) decision.  McCarter tried to use her speed and movement to control Mrdjenovich in the early rounds but Mrdjenovich used her jab more effectively than in their first encounter and also landed left hooks to the body and head. McCarter caught Mrdjenovich with a hard left to start the third, but Mrdjenovich also landed some good flurries. McCarter came on in the fourth but Mrdjenovich took over the fight after McCarter suffered a broken radial bone in her forearm in the fifth, and dominated the later rounds as McCarter gamely fought on essentially one-handed from a southpaw stance. McCarter landed several hard rights in the eighth but could not recover from Mrdjenovich's control of the middle of the fight. On several occasions the ring doctor asked McCarter if she wanted to continue, but the Las Vegas fighter toughed it out and survived the last three rounds.  The bout was the main event of Canada's first all-female pro boxing card in the "A Ring of Their Own" series. [Video]

"I'm a lot bigger than her. I feel I did what I had to do and I had a lot of fun doing it.  I wanted to come out hard and I took a little too much time feeling her out. I didn't execute quite like I wanted to, but this is still one of my better performances", said Mrdjenovich. "I didn't approach things like I should have when she was hurt, and I didn't finish her off, but I showed what I could do. I wanted to box and not just brawl. She had to resort to a lot of holding and head-butting." 

Team McCarter told WBAN "We came back from the hospital and Layla broke her forearm in two pieces, she will need surgery as soon we get back to Las Vegas, she probably be out for three months." McCarter fell to 18-12-4 (2 KOs) with the loss.

"The only thing I have to do with her is try to get her over her stage fright," said trainer Lubovac. "She has to listen to me more and not to what people tell her and not to what she tells herself. I know what she had to do to lift her up to better fights. Now we have to back track a bit before we move her up in class again. She has to believe in herself and that she is one of the biggest punchers and one of the best in the business. And to win, she has to punch."

On August 27, 2005 at Chestermere Lake, Alberta, Jelena won a fourth-round TKO over Leanne Villareal of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mrdjenovich improved to 13-1 (8 KOs) with this win while Villareal fell to 1-4-1 (1 KO).


Jelena tags Alcanter with a left
Copyrighted photo taken by Mary Ann Owen

On November 18, 2005 at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, 2200 enthusiastic fans saw Jelena (128 lbs) win the WBC and WIBF Junior Lightweight titles with a sixth-round KO of Franchesca Alcanter (5'4", 129 lbs) of Kansas City. Mrdjenovich entered the ring to thunderous applause and came out boxing in the opening rounds, using her jab, ring movement, left hooks and body shots to control Alcanter in the first two sessions. At the end of the third Mrdjenovich rocked Alcanter with a big left hook followed by an overhand right.  Alcanter mounted a comeback in the fourth, landing three hard shots at close quarters but Mrdjenovich regained control with another hard left hook before the end of the session. In the fifth, Alcanter tried to brawl and kept Mrdjenovich against the ropes and in a corner. 
 


Francesca Alcanter on the canvas in the sixth
Copyrighted photo taken by Mary Ann Owen

At the beginning of the sixth Mrdjenovich, who had been told to "get to work" by her corner, knocked Alcanter's mouthguard out with an overhand right. She later used a second overhand right to move Alcanter into the path of a left hook that dropped her flat on her back on the canvas. Alcanter tried to beat the count and made it to her knees at six but the fight was waved off at the 0:44 mark by referee Len Kovisto. The 32-year-old Alcanter fell to 15-7-2 (8 KOs) with this loss while Mrdjenovich improved to 14-1 (9 KOs).  For more of Mary Ann Owen's photos of this fight card, see MPEG/Photo Gallery #306 on the WBAN Records Member Site.

"It's only been about three years and I couldn't have dreamt it better for myself," said Jelena. "You have to believe your coach when he tells you you're going to be a world champ in three years, and here it is."

On March 24, 2006 at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Jelena easily overcame Donna Biggers of South Carolina in a defense of her WBC Junior Lightweight title. Biggers retired after the second round of an unequal contest in which the American absorbed heavy punishment in the first two rounds and then retired. Mrdjenovich found her range early and pummelled Biggers with a barrage of left hooks and straight rights. The assault led to the ferocious right at the end of the first that almost knocked Biggers through the ropes. "As soon as I hit her hard a couple of times, I knew she was in trouble," said Mrdjenovich. "I hurt her and I jumped right on her." Biggers stayed on her feet in the second despite taking more punishment, but ended the round bleeding from the nose and had her left eye nearly closed, according to a ringside report by Scott Zerr of the Edmonton Sun.    Biggers, who was unranked by WBAN, fell to 17-3-1 (15 KO's).

On May 20, 2006 in Yellowknife, Canada, Jelena (130 lbs) KO’d Franchesca Alcanter (130 lbs) of Kansas City in the fifth round in a rematch of their November bout.   Mrdjenovich retained her IWBF Junior Lightweight title with this win in her former home town.

On June 23, 2006 at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Jelena (133 lbs) won a ten-round unanimous (97-93, 97-93,99-92)  decision over Mia St. John (134 lbs) of Los Angeles. to win the WIBF Lightweight title.  St. John fell to 43-7-2 (18 KOs).

On September 1, 2006 at the Shaw Conference Center in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Jelena (133 lbs) won by a six-round unanimous (59-55x3) decision over Olga Heron (130 lbs) of Mississauga, Ontario in a second rematch. Heron fell to 4-7-0 (1 KO) while  Mrdjenovich improved to 18-1 (11 KOs).


Jelena battles Ann-Marie Saccurato in November 2006
Copyrighted photo taken by Mary Ann Owen

On November 4, 2006 at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, Jelena (133  lbs) lost by a split (96-94,96-94,94-96) ten-round unanimous decision to Ann-Marie Saccurato (135 lbs) of New York City  for the vacant WBC Lightweight title. Ann-Marie Saccurato improved her record to 12-1-2 (5 KOs) with the win.  

On February 10, 2007 at the Delta South Hotel, in Edmonton, Canada, a sold out crowd saw Jelena (130 lbs) win an eight-round unanimous (77-75,78-74,79-73) decision over Belinda Laracuente (127 lbs) of the Bronx, New York.  Mrdjenovich told the local news media that it was hard to fight Laracuente because she kept her hands so low, and backs up a lot. She also said that Laracuente was tough and talented. Laracuente said after the fight that Mrdjenovich was “a great champion.”    Jelena advanced to 19-2 (11 KOs) while Laracuente fell to 22-17-3 (9 KOs), her losses being to the cream of the competition in women's boxing.

On April 13, 2007 at Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Jelena (129 lbs) won a 10-round unanimous (99-91,98-92,98-92) decision over Emiko Raika (129 lbs) of Japan for the WBC Junior Lightweight Title. Raika had few answers for Mrdjenovich's right hand and was in trouble in the fourth and fifth rounds, but rallied in the sixth. "She came straight forward all night, but when she bent over at the waist to try to get inside, she was wide open for my uppercut", said Mrdjenovich. Raika fell to 16-3-1 (6 KO's) while Mrdjenovich improved to 20-2-0 (11 KOs).

On September 28, 2007 at Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton,  Jelena (133 lbs)  won a 10-round unanimous (99-91) decision over Kelli Cofer (131 lbs) of Willard, Ohio for the WIBF Lightweight title. Mrdjenovich was too strong for the southpaw Cofer, who she outfought at close quarters. Cofer was bloodied in the fourth round and had to to convince her corner to allow her to continue in the fight. Mrdjenovich improved to 21-2-0 (11 KOs) while dropping Cofer to 13-6-4 (4 KOs).

On December 7, 2007 at the Shaw Conference Centre, in Edmonton, Jelena was held to a ten-round draw (96-94,94-96,95-95) by Dominga Olivo of Monticello, New York. Jelena retained her WBC Junior Lightweight title belt but was quoted in a post fight interview in the Edmonton Journal as saying “I really don't understand these judges. I outboxed her, out-countered her, I had better defence, better offence. When I heard those scores I was shocked. It's almost like the judges expect me to come out strong and when I change my style a bit I get penalized for it."  However, as detailed on WBAN by writer Bernie McCoy, the real issue may have been a less than convincing outing by Mrdjenovich against a surprisingly difficult opponent with a potent overhand right than any mis-call by the judges. Olivo, who previously had a strong career as an amateur and was coming off an eight-round majority decision loss to Layla McCarter last June, moved her record to 5-2-1 (0 KOs).

On March 28, 2008 at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Layla McCarter (132.6 lbs) of Las Vegas won a 10-round split decision over Jelena (134.8 lbs). McCarter was defending her WBA Lightweight title. Final judges scores were 96-94, 96-94, and 94-96. Mrdjenovich was cut on the lip, then the nose and then a large gash on the right side of her face. While McCarter appeared to be in control -- especially in the early rounds -- she could feel the momentum shifting. "I thought I dominated the first five rounds." she said, "but then I let the tide turn. The second half of the fight was so close. It was hard to call. I was nervous."  Once again, Team Mrdjenovich complained about the home town officiating. Mrdjenovich's trainer Milan Lubovac blamed the loss on "lousy refereeing. You can't get a good decision in this city." Asked about the decision, Mrdjenovich said "I'm disappointed. But I'm not surprised in Edmonton." (Before the fight, WBAN had ranked McCarter #3 at lightweight, and Mrdjenovich #4.)
[Video]

On September 12, 2008 at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Jelena (133 lbs) won an eight-round unanimous (77-75,77-75,77-75) decision over Lakeysha Williams (129 lbs) of Philadelphia, PA, who fell to 9-14-3 (1 KO) while Mrdjenovich moved to 22-2-1 (11 KOs).    According to a report by Chris O'Leary, "Mrdjenovich came out of her corner with some zip to her punch in her first match since hurting her knee while fighting Layla McCarter on March 28. Mrdjenovich showered Williams with combos to the head and face early in the bout to set a dominant tone. Not one to back down, Williams absorbed a lot of punishment and stuck around long enough to dish some back to Mrdjenovich. Tensions overflowed in the later rounds, with the two going toe-to-toe from the fifth round through to the eighth and final round."

On November 7, 2008 at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Jelena (129 lbs) successfully defended her WBC super featherweight title against Lyndsey Scragg (129 lbs) of Wednesbury, U.K. by a 10-round unanimous (96-93,98-90,96-93) decision. According to a report by Murray Greig in the Edmonton Sun, "Maximizing her five-inch height advantage by doubling hooks off a piston-like jab, Mrdjenovich floored Scragg in the first and seventh rounds, but both times the feisty Brit rebounded and reloaded to give as good as she got. 'Except for the knockdowns, I thought we won," Erroll Johnson, Scragg's trainer/manager said afterward. "Lyndsey was scoring heavily to the body on the inside, but obviously the judges weren't seeing that." Mrdjenovich disagreed, saying "She was tough, but I didn't think it was close at all. We knew she'd gamble by trying to go to the body, but that left her head wide open. Once I was able to set up the hook off the jab, I rocked her every time I doubled up. She was definitely one of my tougher opponents, I give her full marks for coming all the way from Britain and fighting as hard as she did. I think we gave the crowd a great show."  Scragg dropped to 7-1-0 (3 KO's) with her first pro loss. 

On April 9, 2009 in front of a sold-out house at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Olivia Gerula (127 lbs) of Winnipeg, Manitoba won a ten-round unanimous (97-94,97-94,96-95) decision over Jelena (129 lbs) for the WBC super featherweight world title. Gerula came out aggressively and outhustled the home-standing Mrdjenovich, who looked tired after the early rounds and was unable to mount a sufficient comeback after her corner told her she would need a KO to win the fight. Mrdjenovich's trainer Milan Lubovac was unhappy with his fighter's performance, saying "We can't blame this one on the judges or the referee; my fighter just didn't fight. She was breathing through her mouth after two rounds. What does that tell you? She didn't do her running to get ready and she was complacent in the gym. She didn't want to pay the price that a champion has to pay. Jelena has all the talent in the world, but that means nothing if you choose not to put it to use. That was her choice tonight. I knew after the fourth round she couldn't win unless she got a KO, but she didn't go for it. Her heart wasn't in it after she ran out of gas. She's going to have to decide if she still wants to pay the price, or call it a day."

"It was an amazing fight," said Gerula. "I was aggressive from the very beginning. She tried to land that famous left hook of hers and she landed a few. But I’ve learned to cover up and take some punches. I had her in trouble... she did hit the canvas once but they called it a slip. I had her tired and backed up and she was holding. It was a war and it was great."  Gerula improved her record to 11-10-2 (4 KOs) with the win.

On November 13, 2009 at the Shaw Conference Center in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Ann-Marie Saccurato (133 lbs) of New York won a ten-round unanimous decision in a rematch with Jelena Mrdjenovich (133 lbs) for the WBC Lightweight title.  Canada.com correspondent Paul Owen wrote that "Saccurato knocked Mrdjenovich down in the third and fourth rounds and escaped with an emotional 96-94, 94-94, 95-93 majority victory to retain her title belt ... '"I'm happy with the outcome. I'm not happy with certain things that I couldn't pull off that I would have liked to, technically, in the ring," said Saccurato ... The fight started well for Saccurato, as her first punch of the bout caught Mrdjenovich on the left eye, and another shot in the second round swelled up the other. Saccurato then caught Mrdjenovich off balance and sent her to the mat in the third, and again in the fourth with a vicious right hand. Mrdjenovich fought back after the second knockdown, however, bloodying Saccurato's nose in the sixth round and cutting open her forehead in the ninth. "I definitely wanted to finish it, but I knew I was jumping in too much. I was getting too anxious and I was falling away from my game plan, so I was just trying to settle down some, which I didn't do as well as I would have liked to," Saccurato explained. The tide almost turned in Mrdjenovich's favour in the ninth round when Saccurato was penalized a point for punching Mrdjenovich in the back of the head after being repeatedly warned by referee Don Smart, but it wasn't enough to overcome the early lead built by Saccurato ... "All I have to say is that it was a great fight for women's boxing. I thought it wasn't deserving of a draw, but it was a great fight ... and that's what we need," said a curt Mrdjenovich after the fight."  (For a fight photo gallery see Photo Gallery #514 WBAN Member Site).  Saccurato improved to 15-4-2 (6 KO's). 

On May 7, 2010 at the Shaw Conference Center in Edmonton, Jelena TKO'd Dominga Olivo of Brooklyn, NY at 1:28 in the sixth round of a scheduled eight-round rematch of their December 2007 draw. According to a report by Chris O'Leary in the Edmonton Journal, "A quick right to the face did Olivo in, after she stood toe-to-toe with the former World Boxing Council super featherweight champion through the first five rounds of the bout. Mrdjenovich said she had a good feeling about the sixth round. 'I felt that round,' she said. 'I told Milan (Lubovac, her trainer) in the corner, I said, 'This is it, this is the round.' And I shortened up and that right hand just opened up and it was a nice, tight punch.'"  Mrdjenovich improved to 24-5-1 (12 KOs) as Olivo dropped to 7-6-1 (0 KO's).

On November 10, 2010 at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Lindsay Garbatt (129 lbs) of Oshawa, Ontario won a ten-round split (93-97,96-94,96-94) decision over Jelena Mrdjenovich (129 lbs) for the vacant WIBA Junior Lightweight title. Garbatt improved to 6-3-1 (3 KO's) with the win.  Garbatt's nose was broken in the second round, and she later said "I felt the blow and I felt the blood gushing out of my face. I've never had that full-out broken nose before. You don't feel anything in the fight, but when I was going back to the corner to get the water, I was kind of suffocating and I couldn't understand why, but it was because my nose was full of blood."

Garbatt vs Mrdjenovich
Jelena vs Lindsay Garbatt in Barrie, Ont  on February 4, 2011
Copyrighted photo by Durell Wambolt

On February 4, 2011 at the Molson Centre in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, WIBA Junior Lightweight champion Lindsay Garbatt (128 lbs) of Oshawa, Ontario defeated Jelena (129 lbs)by a ten-round majority decision. The judges’ scores were 96-95, 96-94 for Garbatt and 95-95.  Rick Mclean told WBAN that "Both ladies picked up where they had left off in their previous fight as each went right at the other landing hard combinations in a tit for tat battle in the early rounds ...  In rounds two through five Mrdjenovich was able to land solid straight right hands to the head of the champion however Garbatt would respond right back by landing good hooks to the her (head) and body on the inside. These were incredibly difficult rounds to score. In the sixth round Mrdjenovich got a bad cut over her left eye that was caused by a right punch. Garbatt battered Mrdjenovich around the ring for most of the round however Jelena was able to score but only with only one punch at a time usually just enough to keep Garbatt off of (her). Mrdjenovich’s face (was) a crimson mask throughout the seventh round but she fought right through it taking the fight to Garbatt in what was her best round of the fight. Garbatt took the eighth round with steady pressure and a high volume of punches while Jelena threw punches back but would then hold on a lot. Rounds nine and ten were an absolute toe to toe war as both fighters chopped away at each other’s head and body. Both fighters landed hard crowd pleasing punches and neither took a step back. The judges did get the decision right however as Garbatt did do more than enough to earn the decision."  Garbatt improved her record to 7-3-1 (3 KO’s) while Mrdjenovich dropped to 24-7-1 (12 KO’s).   For more of Durell Wambolt's photos of this fight, see MPEG/Photo Gallery #528 on the WBAN Records Member Site.

On June 24, 2011 at the Shaw Conference Center in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Melissa Hernandez (129 lbs) of New York won an eight-round split (77-75,77-75,75-77) decision over Jelena Mrdjenovich (132 lbs) of Edmonton in a non-title bout. The victory moved Hernandez to 15-2-3 (5 KOs) while Mrdjenovich dropped her third straight, falling to  24-8-1 (12 KO's).  Hernandez was a late replacement for Irma Balijagic-Adler of Bosnia-Herzegovina, who failed a medical exam.

On September 22, 2011 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan, Jelena (128 lbs) won a clear unanimous (98-92,97-93,96-94) ten-round decision over Emiko "Fujin" Raika (130 lbs) of Tokyo in an eliminator for the WBC Junior Lightweight title held by Sweden's Frida Wallberg. The bout was close in the first four rounds, but the WBC's open scoring system alerted Mrdjenovich's team that she needed to pick up the pace and set down on her punches more.  “Raika can really take a shot,” Mrdjenovich told the Edmonton Sun's Murray Greig. “In the last three rounds I hit her flush with punches that would’ve knocked out any other opponent I’ve fought, but she took everything. I broke her nose and cut her up pretty good, but she just kept coming."  Mrdjenovich improved her record to 25-8-1 (12 KO's) while Raika fell to 22-7-1 (9 KO's).

Jelena was named WBAN Fighter of the Month for October 2011 for this away-from-home win.

Mrdjenovich KO's Gerula
Jelena Mrdjenovich stands over fallen Olivia Gerula
copyrighted photo by Guhdar Photography

On December 9, 2011 at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Jelena (125 lbs) KO'd Olivia Gerula (125 lbs) of Winnipeg, Manitoba at 0:23 in the ninth round of a scheduled ten-rounder for the WIBA Featherweight title. Mrdjenovich was ahead by 78-74 on all three scorecards of the open scoring before she caught Gerula with a perfectly placed left hook to the temple as she closed in.  Gerula hit the canvas face down and was out cold for several minutes. Mrdjenovich improved to 26-8-1 (13 KO's) with the win. Gerula, who took the fight at a week's notice as a replacement for injured Sarah Pucek, fell to 13-13-2 (3 KO's).

WBAN named Jelena Mrdjenovich "Most Improved Fighter of 2011" and cited her KO of Olivia Gerula as one of the Three Biggest KO's of 2011.

On March 23 2012 at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta the third time was a charm for Jelena Mrdjenovich (126 lbs) as she stopped Lindsay Garbatt (126 lbs) of Oshawa, Ontario, Canada  at 1:45 of the opening round to take the vacant WBC Featherweight title and retain the WIBA Featherweight belt. Mrdjenovich emphaticallty erased her two prior close losses to Garbatt by taking command of the fight from the opening bell and scoring three  knockdowns in quick succession. Garbatt fell to  7-5-1 (3 KO's) with her second straight stoppage loss.

On June 22, 2012 at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Jelena Mrdjenovich (129 lbs) who had opponents fall out before this bout won an eight-round unanimous (80-72,79-73,80-72) decision over veteran Belinda Laracuente (130 lbs) of New York in an non-title bout. Mrdjenovich improved to 27-8-1 (13 KO's) while Laracuente fell to 26-27-3 (9 KO's).

On September 14, 2012  at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Melissa Hernandez of Miami, Florida won the WBC and WIBA Featherweight titles with a ten-round unanimous (98-92,98-92,97-93) decision over Jelena Mrdjenovich. Hernandez used her lateral ring movement and a quick hard right hand to counter  the recently demonstrated punching power of Mrdjenovich.  Following the WBC's rules, open scoring was used so it was clear to both boxers that Hernandez took a strong early lead which she would not relinquish. Hernandez improved her record to 18-3-3 (6 KO's) while Mrdjenovich slipped to 27-9-1 (13 KO's).

On May 31, 2013 at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton,
Jelena Mrdjenovich (
126 lbs) won by a sixth-round technical decision in a rematch with Melissa Hernandez (123 lbs) of New York to take the WBC Featherweight Title.  The fight went to the scorecards because of a bad cut to the forehead that Mrdjenovich had sustained in the second round in a collision of heads. According to a report in the Edmonton Journal: "In Round 1 the narrative was following the predictable path – Mrdjenovich set about chasing her elusive rival with little success. In Round 2 the same thing was taking place; but with mere seconds to go in the round the fighters’ heads clashed. The result was a two-inch gash high on the left side of Mrdjenovich’s forehead – blood covered her face instantly. Everything went south. Hernandez, cool as a cat, pounced on the opportunity, sensing a rousing but messy victory. Neither fighter wanted the bout stopped; the ringside doctor checked the horrible cut, and amazingly, let the war continue. A sense of urgency enveloped the combatants, fans went wild and blood splattered the canvas. During rounds three and four they battled like demons; towards the end of the fourth Mrdjenovich lost a bit of steam and Hernandez started to find her distance again. The expected narrative looked like it was about to resurface, but in the fifth Mrdjenovich stepped on the gas, cornered Hernandez and put her on the canvas; it could have been a slip, but it was ruled an official knockdown. Mrdjenovich started taking control – pushing, punching, shoving – doing whatever she could to build a lead. Blood was streaming, and everyone knew the fight could be stopped at any time. Round 6 was a near repeat of the fifth; then the fight was stopped – the cut was just too severe." The judges' scorecards had Mrdjenovich ahead by 57-56, 58-56 and 58-55 at the time of the stoppage, so the technical decision went in her favor. Hernandez was clear that she wants a fourth fight with Mrdjenovich as she dropped to 18-4-3 (6 KO's).

On September 13 2013 at the Shaw Conference Center in Edmonton, Jelena Mrdjenovich (130 lbs) TKO'd Karen Dulin (131 lbs) of Mystic, Connecticut, USA at 1:58 in the second round of a scheduled eight in a non-title bout.  Dulin fell to 2-14 (1 KO) with the loss.

On December 6 2013 at the Shaw Conference Center in Edmonton, Jelena Mrdjenovich (130 lbs) KO'd unranked 28-year-old Wanda Pena Ozuna (130 lbs) of the Dominican Republic  39 seconds into the first round of a scheduled eight in a non-title bout,  Ozuna fell to 9-6 (3 KO's).

On March 1 2014 at the Shaw Conference Center in Edmonton, Jelena Mrdjenovich (131 lbs) won a ten-round unanimous (100-89,99-90,98-91) decision over Zarika Njeri (126 lbs) of Nairobi, Kenya in a non-title bout.  Njeri fell to 2408-1 (15 KO's) as Mrdjenovich advanced to 32-9-1 (16 KO's).

When she isn't boxing, Jelena manages the Nova Inn hotel and restaurant in Edmonton. "Boxing is challenging to me, mentally and physically, and I enjoy the hard work," she says. "Having to be hit over and over again, having to deal with it and push through, it's kind of like chess," she says. "You have to show one thing and do another and plan your moves carefully."

Other Jelena Mrdjenovich links

Page last updated: Sunday, April 13, 2014

 
     
     
     
 

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