Gerula warfare expected

MURRAY GREIG, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:36 AM ET

Trading punches with world champions is old hat for Olivia (The Predator) Gerula.

In fact, when Gerula climbs through the ropes tonight at the Shaw Conference Centre to challenge World Boxing Council super featherweight champ Jelena Mrdjenovich on the six-bout Blunt Force Trauma card, it will mark the second time in less than two years that the 29-year-old Winnipegger has squared off with ring royalty.

But to hear Gerula tell it, her first brush with greatness was the proverbial piece of cake.

"It was before my (2007) fight with Sosadea Razo in Las Vegas," she recalled yesterday. "I got the unbelievable opportunity to train with Floyd Mayweather Jr. He was kind enough to pass along some of that age-old knowledge that he has, and he worked the hand pads with me in the ring.

"I've got pictures of it, and I look like a grinning fool. It was so cool, and I was like, just smiling the whole time. He sat in the front row to watch my fight afterwards, too, which was great. I guess I have to give him a little bit of the credit for that win."

Gerula won't be nearly so cavalier tonight.

"Getting this rematch with Jelena is the pinnacle of my career," she said. "It's why every fighter gets into this sport, to get a shot at a world championship. It's the Holy Grail."

In 2004, Mrdjenovich (23-3-1) handed Gerula the only KO loss on her 10-10-2 record.

"That was my 15th pro fight. I've won five of seven since, and completely changed my style - as I'm sure Jelena has," said the challenger, who's ranked No. 5 on the planet by the WBC.

"Last month I got a split decision over Emiko Raika in Tokyo, and if you know anything about Japanese judging, you know how hard it is to get a split over there.

"It was one of the best fights of my career, and to get that kind of a win in Raika's own backyard was a huge confidence boost.

"With this title shot coming so soon after my last fight, I didn't have a lot of down time in between. My training has been terrific, and I think the things we've been working on might surprise Jelena a little bit."

So is tonight's rematch all about revenge?

"She knocked me out last time and I'd love to return the favour in front of her hometown fans, but that's not something I'll be consciously gunning for," said Gerula.

"I just want to outbox her, beat her to the punch and wear her down.

"I know this is going to be a hell of a fight. She's got the advantage of height and reach, not to mention the crowd and being the world champion - but she's got the pressure, too.

"All that pressure is on Jelena's shoulders. All I have to do is fight my fight."

Pelletier primed

With Mrdjenovich set to hit the road in France in June, stylish lightweight Ayana Pelletier is poised to pick up the torch as Edmonton's next great female fighter.

Pelletier (4-1, 3 KOs) will face debuting Elizabeth McKay of St. Louis, Mo., in a four-round prelim tonight. Another impressive win will almost certainly put her on the periphery of an international Top 10 ranking, and promoter Glen Carriere intends to maximize that opportunity.

"Ayana is a crowd-pleaser ... she's got the kind of ring presence that makes people sit up and take notice," Carriere said yesterday.

"That's not something that can be taught; some fighters have it and some don't. Ayana definitely has it. We're positioning her to get a Top 10 ranking by the end of the year in one of the most competitive weight classes in women's boxing."

Pelletier is excited about the prospects.

"I'm doing what I love to do ... and I hope that shows in what I bring to the ring," she said. "At this point, yes, I've had some success, but I'm still learning, still growing. Every fight is a learning experience, and I'm not taking anything for granted. I'll fight whoever they put in front of me."

Also on tonight's undercard: Adam Braidwood vs. Lee Mein (four rounds, heavyweights); Kris Andrews vs. Anthony Osbourne (eight rounds, junior middleweights); Steve Claggett vs. Bill Arnott (four rounds, junior welterweights); Levi Kump vs. Bruce Sexsmith (Muay Thai kickboxing).


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