EDMONTON - Just hours after a powerful typhoon pounded Tokyo with strong winds and heavy rain, Edmonton’s Jelena Mrdjenovich pounded out a 10-round unanimous decision over Fujin Raika in their WBC super featherweight title eliminator at the Korakeun Hall in the Japanese capital.
“It was just another little obstacle in a week that seemed to be filled with them,” Mrdjenovich said of Wednesday’s storm that left hundreds of thousands of commuters stranded when train service was suspended. “After all we’d gone through, it was actually kind of a relief to get in the ring and take care of business.”
The three judges — from Japan, Canada and Thailand — scored the bout 97-93, 98-92 and 96-94, respectively. The victory raised Mrdjenovich’s record to 25-8-1 and vaults her to the top of the list of contenders for the world title held by Sweden’s unbeaten Frida Wallberg (10-0). Raika dropped to 22-7-1.
“I knew it was going to be a long week when the airline lost our luggage,” said Mrdjenovich. “I didn’t have any training gear for a couple of days, so there was a lot of down time when were just sitting around, waiting to hear if they found our stuff.
“Fortunately, I had my mouthpiece with me; it would’ve been a disaster if that was lost. By the time our bags were found we’d changed hotels, so it was a while before we got everything.
“Then they sprung the first weigh-in on us the day before the official weigh-in — and I was over the (130-pound) limit because I’d just eaten a big meal. Like I said, just another little obstacle.”
Mrdjenovich came in at 127.5 pounds while Raika was an even 130. The bout was close through the first four rounds, but, thanks to the WBC’s open scoring system, Mrdjenovich’s corner knew just when to pick up the pace.
“I didn’t know if I was ahead, if it was close … anything,” said Mrdjenovich. “But my corner told me two of the judges had it 38-38 after four rounds, so it was time to open up. I started sitting down on my punches more, slugging instead of boxing … and it paid off.”
After seven rounds, Mrdjenovich was ahead on all three cards: 67-66 (x2), and 68-65.
“Raika can really take a shot,” she said. “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 was the recipient of a couple of well-placed head butts, but said she was never in trouble.
“Compared to when I beat her in our first fight (2007), Raika was rougher … but I was never hurt,” she said. “It was a good action fight and we got down in the trenches a little bit, but I’ve got nothing but respect for her. She really came to fight.”