Jelena Mrdjenovich is putting her World Boxing Council super featherweight title on the line for the fourth time in 20 months tomorrow night at the Shaw Conference Centre.
And while a win over Dominga Olivo of Monticello, N.Y., will nicely cap what's been a very busy year for Edmonton's double world titleist (she also owns the Women's International Boxing Federation lightweight crown), that won't be enough.
Mrdjenovich (21-2, 11 KOs) wants to give herself an early Christmas present by scoring a knockout.
"Yeah, it's been awhile," she chuckled yesterday, referring to a five-round stoppage of Francesca Alcanter in Yellowknife in May 2006.
In fact, Mrdjenovich hasn't notched a KO in Edmonton in seven fights, dating back to the fall of 2005.
"It's not so much pressure as personal satisfaction," she said. "I'm always excited about fighting at home and putting on a good show, and the best way to put on a good show is to get a KO."
While it might be tempting to dismiss Olivo as a "safe" defence, the 36-year-old (5-2, 0 KOs) is coming off a close majority decision loss to Layla McCarter in June.
McCarter (24-13-5) is the same fighter who handed Mrdjenovich her first pro loss here in 2005. Olivo's other loss was a controversial split decision to unbeaten Chika Nakumara last February.
"All I know about Jelena is she comes to fight, every time ... but so do I," Olivo said yesterday. "Maybe she's taking me lightly, but that will change the first time I hit her."
Mrdjenovich didn't take the bait.
"Every challenger is different. You can't just look at the records. The important thing for me is to not get caught up in all that. I just have to execute what we've been working on in training and take care of business. This is my job, and like any job, I try to improve on what I did last time. That's what motivates me."
Tomorrow's semi-main event is a Canadian junior middleweight rematch between champion Gareth Sutherland ((16-7, 5 KOs) of Winnipeg and Edmonton southpaw Kris Andrews (11-7, 2 KOs).
Sutherland got a split decision in their war here last spring, but he knows Andrews didn't make the most of his physical advantages.
"Hey, he's six-foot-three, and I'm five-eight, so do the math," he said. "I expect him to come at me more than last time, but I'll be showing him something different, too."
Andrews, 8-1-1 in his last 10 fights, said revenge will be a big motivator.
"I thought I did enough to win last time, but I made the mistake of letting it go to the judges. This time I plan to see him get counted out. That way, there's no dispute."