Mrdjenovich defends featherweight belts with win by split decision over Amand
By: Ron Scarfone
Because of the amount of sanctioning bodies involved in women’s boxing, there are usually several world champions per weight class. However, Jelena Mrdjenovich separated herself from the pack with a split decision win over Gaelle Amand in France. Mrdjenovich is the World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Association (WBA) female featherweight champion and Amand was undefeated prior to this world title fight. Amand is from France and there is always the possibility of biased judging when fighting in an opponent’s home country. Nevertheless, Amand was a worthy challenger and has a belt collection of her own. In 2012, Amand won the vacant France female featherweight title by split decision against Stephanie Ducastel who is also from France. Ducastel is currently the World Boxing Federation female featherweight champion. Amand also won the European Boxing Union (EBU) female featherweight title by defeating Agota Ilko by unanimous decision in 2012. Amand became a world champion in 2013 by winning the World Boxing Federation female featherweight title over Irma Balijagic Adler. Adler is currently the World Boxing Foundation female lightweight champion, but she has also won world titles at featherweight and super featherweight. Amand won the WBC International female featherweight title in April 2016 over Tamara Marianella Nunez by unanimous decision. Nunez is currently a super featherweight contender who lost by a close majority decision against IBF super featherweight champion Anahi Esther Sanchez. Amand vacated the WBC International female featherweight title in order to fight Mrdjenovich for her WBC world female featherweight title. Heather Hardy now holds the WBC International female featherweight title.
Mrdjenovich is from Canada and has fought mostly in her home country, but she has proven that she is capable of winning on her opponents’ home turf. Mrdjenovich defeated former super featherweight contender Fujin Raika by unanimous decision in Raika’s home country of Japan in 2011. Of course, Mrdjenovich’s win over Amand five years later shows that she can still win anywhere in the world and against anyone in the female featherweight division. Mrdjenovich became a world champion in 2005 by winning the inaugural WBC female super featherweight title over Franchesca Alcanter. After successfully defending the title a couple of times, Mrdjenovich won the vacant Women’s International Boxing Federation (WIBF) lightweight title in 2006 by unanimous decision over Mia St. John. Mrdjenovich tried to win the WBC female lightweight title, but lost by a close split decision to Ann Saccurato. Saccurato was inducted into the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame this year. Mrdjenovich again won the WBC female super featherweight title in 2007 by unanimous decision over Fujin Raika. Mrdjenovich again won the WIBF lightweight title with a win by unanimous decision over Kelli Cofer. Mrdjenovich tried to win the WBA female lightweight title, but lost by a close split decision to Layla McCarter. McCarter has won world titles in the featherweight, super lightweight, lightweight, and super welterweight divisions. Mrdjenovich won the WBC female super featherweight title for a third time by defeating Lyndsey Scragg by unanimous decision in 2008. After Mrdjenovich defeated Raika in Japan in 2011, Mrdjenovich won the vacant Women’s International Boxing Association (WIBA) featherweight title by knockout over Olivia Gerula in 2011. Gerula is also from Canada and has been a world champion at super featherweight.
Mrdjenovich won the vacant WBC female featherweight title in 2012 by knocking out Lindsay Garbatt in the first round. Garbatt is from Canada and won world titles at featherweight and super featherweight in her pro career. Mrdjenovich lost her WBC female featherweight title to Melissa Hernandez by unanimous decision in 2012. Hernandez has won world titles at super bantamweight, featherweight, super featherweight, lightweight, and super lightweight. In an immediate rematch in 2013, Mrdjenovich defeated Hernandez by a technical decision. The fight was stopped after the sixth round due to a deep gash on the forehead of Mrdjenovich that was bleeding profusely. The cut was caused by an accidental headbutt by Hernandez in the second round. Mrdjenovich successfully defended her title twice before losing to Edith Soledad Matthysse of Argentina by unanimous decision in 2015. The fight was in Matthysse’s home country of Argentina and the WBA female featherweight title was also at stake. Mrdjenovich won the immediate rematch against Matthysse in Canada by unanimous decision this year. Mrdjenovich’s first defense of her WBC and WBA female featherweight titles was her most recent fight against Gaelle Amand. The referee for the WBC and WBA world featherweight championship was Daniel Van de Wiele of Belgium. He has been a referee since the 1980s and has been a prominent referee who has officiated many world title fights. He is usually a referee for women’s world championships, but he has also been the referee of notable men’s world title fights such as for former world heavyweight champions Vitali Klitschko and Lennox Lewis. There was lots of action in the third round of this female featherweight title fight. Amand has a good defense while Mrdjenovich tends to have her hands lower, but both of them were landing power punches to the head. Mrdjenovich had a bruise around her left eye after the fight, but she landed hard punches in the latter half of the fight. After ten rounds, one judge scored the fight 96-95 in favor of Amand. The other two judges both scored it 97-93 in favor of Mrdjenovich, so she won by split decision. Although Amand has defeated world-class opponents, Mrdjenovich was definitely the best boxer she has ever faced.
Amand had a good performance, so she should receive a rematch against Mrdjenovich or a title shot against one of the other female featherweight champions. However, what should happen and what will happen are often two different things in professional boxing. International Boxing Federation (IBF) female featherweight champion Jennifer Han of El Paso, Texas made her first title defense against Calixta Silgado of Colombia. Han won by unanimous decision and won every round. Silgado has a winning record, but has only one win against an opponent with a winning record. Han is scheduled to fight Liliana Martinez of the Dominican Republic on October 15. Martinez has a winning record, but has no wins against an opponent with a winning record. World Boxing Organization (WBO) female featherweight champion Amanda Serrano successfully defended her title against Silgado in July 2016. Serrano won by TKO in the first round. Serrano is scheduled to fight on October 18 against an opponent who has yet to be announced.
Women’s International Boxing Federation (WIBF) and Global Boxing Union (GBU) female featherweight champion Elina Tissen of Germany is scheduled to fight on December 3 against an opponent who has yet to be announced. Tissen has not fought a legitimate contender in more than five years and the date of December 3 would be past the 12 months deadline that world champions usually have to defend their titles. Tissen’s trainer/manager/promoter Maiki Hundt is currently searching for a suitable opponent for Tissen (i.e. a rated contender who has no wins by knockout). This is because Tissen has the benefit of biased judges in Germany which is where she always defends her titles. If Tissen is able to win against a rated contender by a biased decision, Tissen can remain the WIBF/GBU world champion and be thought of as a world-class boxer. However, Tissen is actually not a world-class boxer even though she is a world champion of the WIBF and GBU. Hundt wanted Tissen to defend her titles against Nydia Feliciano who has a winning record and is a legitimate contender. Feliciano has no wins by knockout and all of her wins have been by the judges’ decision. Feliciano is not available on December 3, so Hundt tried to have Carla Torres as the opponent of Tissen. Torres is a legitimate contender and has a winning record, but she has not won a fight by knockout. Her wins have been either by split decision or unanimous decision. Hundt does not offer enough money to attract rated contenders for a world title fight, especially one in which the judges are so biased that opponents of Tissen have to win by knockout or it is almost a certainty that they will lose. Because of that, Hundt may have to settle for an opponent who is not a world-class boxer. If that happens, it is unknown at this time as to whether the sanctioning bodies would agree to sanction it as a world title fight and also because the fight would be about one week after the deadline of 12 months to make a title defense. As a result of Tissen not fighting legitimate contenders in the last few years, Tissen’s rating on BoxRec.com has plummeted to No. 24 in the female featherweight division.
Stephanie Ducastel won the vacant World Boxing Federation female featherweight title in December 2015 against Gabriella Mezei. Amand won by a split decision over Ducastel in 2012. Since Amand and Ducastel are both from France, a rematch would be anticipated and it would give Amand another world title shot. Amand’s record is 14-1, 1 KO with her lone loss against Mrdjenovich who has a record of 37-10-1, 19 KOs. Mrdjenovich retains her WBC and WBA female featherweight titles and is arguably the best female boxer in that division with her wins this year over Amand and Matthysse who are both legitimate top ten contenders.