Featherweight boxer Jelena Mrdjenovich never planned to get into the pro boxing scene, let alone take on five titles in 10 years.
But after tearing her ACL during her first basketball practice at the University of Alberta, she started training at a local boxing gym and never quit.
“I believe everything happens for a reason and through my rehab and just being a young, impatient athlete, I picked up boxing as cross training. … That week I went down to the boxing gym and fell in love with the sport,” she said, sitting in the Avenue Boxing gym glancing at the posters on the wall.
She quickly grew frustrated with amateur boxing, so her coach Milan Lubovac encouraged her to push for pro fights.
38 fights later, she currently holds two titles and is at the pinnacle of her career. On Friday, she faces off with Melissa Hernandez, an opponent she’s taken on before, but suffered a hard loss in a controversial decision.
“For me, this one is hard mentally. The challenge is I didn’t lose last time, so how can I lose this time again? Now I have to put an even bigger stamp on it.”
Mrdjenovich will be defending her WIBA Women’s International Boxing Association featherweight title and WBC female featherweight title 7 p.m. Friday at the Shaw Conference Centre.