Melissa Hernandez was initially more excited about being presented with the ‘WBC Champion’ shirt than she was about taking Jelena Mrdjenovich’s world featherweight crown in front of a sold-out crowd at Shaw Conference Centre in Alberta, Canada on Friday.
“I got the T-shirt! I love this T-shirt!” Hernandez shouted after notching a lopsided unanimous decision (98-92, 98-92, 97-93) over Edmonton’s five-time world champ. “Jelena hits incredibly hard and she hurt me about six times ... but I said all along I’m the best in the world at 126 pounds, and I think I proved it tonight.”
Hernandez resolutely stuck to her fight plan, which was to make the taller Mrdjenovich fight in the middle of the ring rather than off the ropes. Showcasing slick lateral movement and crushing right-hand power, the Miami native, who beat Mrdjenovich in a non-title 8-rounder last year, rarely took a backwards step.
“This wasn’t nearly as close as our first fight; I thought I was in control right from the start,” she said. “I don’t really want to fight Jelena again because she’s so tough and never gives up ... but if she wants a third one, I’ll listen to the offer.”
Mrdjenovich offered no excuses. “Melissa fought a really smart fight,” she said. “I knew she’d be in shape, and she never stopped punching, even when I was able to land some big shots. I was a little surprised at the (open) scoring after the fourth round because I thought I was holding my own, but that’s boxing. I’ll learn from this and get back to work.”
Under the WBC’s open scoring system, the scores were announced after the fourth and seventh rounds. After Round 4, two judges had Hernandez leading 40-36 while the third had the fight even at 38-38. After Round 8, two favoured Hernandez 69-64, while the third had it 68-65.
September 18, 2012