Jelena set for title rematch

MURRAY GREIG, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:33 AM ET

Can a world title rematch also qualify as a crossroads bout?

For WBC lightweight champ Ann Saccurato of New York and challenger Jelena Mrdjenovich of Edmonton, the answer will be provided in the headliner of Friday's six-bout Redemption card at the Shaw Conference Centre.

The winner will have re-established herself as a force to be reckoned with in women's boxing; the loser will be forced to do some hard reckoning -- with retirement a definite possibility.

"That's an interesting way to look at it," Saccurato said at yesterday's media conference. "Three years ago I came here and beat Jelena in her own backyard. It was a very tough, close fight -- but I won it.

"She says she's been waiting for a rematch for three long years, but for me, this fight represents something even bigger than keeping my title. It's about solidifying a legacy -- both for myself and for our sport.

"Women's boxing has been around too long to not get the respect it deserves. The only way to get that kind of recognition is for the best to fight the best -- and that's what you'll see on Friday.

"For one of us, it will definitely be redemption."

Both women are coming off upset losses.

Mrdjenovich (23-4-1, 11 KOs), lost her WBC super featherweight title in a decision to Winnipeg's Olivia Gerula here in April.

Saccurato (14-4-2, 6 KOs), lost a 10-rounder to Myriam Lamare in France last month. The champ's WBC crown was not at stake.

"I definitely wasn't at my best in France," Saccurato said. "That was my first fight in 14 months, and there was a lot of rust. It only made me train harder for this rematch."

Saccurato is only 2-3 with one knockout since beating Mrdjenovich on Nov. 5, 2006.

Mrdjenovich is 5-2-1 over the same period -- but hasn't notched a KO since stopping Franchesca Alcanter in Yellowknife in the spring of '06.

"I'd love to stop her ... especially considering how our first fight ended," said Mrdjenovich, alluding to the fact one ringside judge scored it 96-94 for her while the other two favoured Saccurato by the same count.

"But the bottom line is that I've wanted this rematch from the moment they raised her arm in the ring. It's not about anything else except getting back in the win column and getting back to being a world champion.

"I literally begged (KO Boxing promoter) Glenn (Carriere) to get a deal done with Saccurato. I was born ready for the tough fights, and this is the toughest one out there."

MURRAY.GREIG@SUNMEDIA.CA


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