Jelena wary of southpaw

MURRAY GREIG -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:21 AM ET

Facing a lefthanded fighter is like staring at a photographic negative.

But Jelena Mrdjenovich hopes to turn that backwards image into a positive when she defends her Women's International Boxing Federation world lightweight title against southpaw Kelli Cofer tomorrow night at the Shaw Conference Centre.

"I've never fought a southpaw as a pro, so it's definitely something I'm aware of and something I'll have to adjust to," Mrdjenovich (20-2, 11 KOs) said yesterday.

"At the same time, I think it could turn out to be a plus. I'm going to have to deal with something I've never seen before, and that opens up a lot of possibilities."

Cofer (13-5-4, 3 KOs), the WIBF's No. 1 contender from Willard, Ohio, will also bring a height advantage of nearly three inches into the ring. But Mrdjenovich is more concerned about those right-hand leads.

"We're both moving up to 135 (pounds) for this fight, and being taller, that's probably a little easier for Kelli," said Mrdjenovich.

"Plus, she's proven that she comes to fight. I expect her to try to keep moving, keep me outside with that right hand, but sooner or later I'll catch her."

Cofer, who will be fighting for the first time since reconstructive surgery on her left hand, said any advantage with her height is cancelled out by Mrdjenovich's tenacity.

"Jelena is gonna be out for blood, I know that. I'm ready for that. This is her hometown, and defending her title in front of her friends and family will only make her more determined to try to knock me out.

"To be honest, I'm just really happy to be able to fight again. I made the weight and I got through training without rebreaking my hand, so it's all good from here on."

Well, maybe not all good. Cofer very nearly didn't make it to yesterday's media conference after she and her father, Jim, were held up at Canada Customs and weren't allowed to enter the country until promoter Glen Carriere faxed a fight poster to the airport.

"They wanted proof I was fighting, but it's not like we walk around with the contracts," said Cofer.

"I couldn't believe the hassle they gave us. Everything else about Edmonton has been beautiful, but that was one for the books."


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