By Jake Donovan
Jelena Mrdjenovich avenged a recent defeat to Edith Soledad Matthysse in the most sensible fashion - doing exactly the opposite as was the case the first time they met.
The strategy paid off, as she reclaimed her featherweight title while picking up one more in a 10-round unanimous decision win Friday evening at home in Edmonton, Canada.
Scores were 96-93 (twice) and 97-92 for the local favorite in their unified title fight, which aired live on TyC Sports in Argnetina (Matthysse's home country) and the United States.
Mrdjenovich once upon a time threatened to become the best female boxer on the planet. As no man or woman can truly conquer Father Time, the 33-year old no longer represents that version but is still able to offer shades of such brilliance.
It came in her first fight with Matthysse last August, in which Mrdjenovich jumped out to a strong start - perhaps feeling compelled to force a quick pace on the road in Argentina. The strategy miserably backfired, as she ran out of steam in the second half, with Matthysse prevailing by decision win in their two-belt unification bout.
A reversal of game plans surfaced in Friday's rematch. This time it was Matthysse forcing the action early in the fight, her first in Canada and just second career bout outside of Argentina. The older sister of super lightweight contender Lucas Matthysse thought she had the right game plan in place, looking to test a theory that Mrdjenovich has hit the twilight of career.
It may be true, but the local fighter rode out the early storm in wisely preserving her energy without giving away too many rounds on the scorecards. Matthysse never faded, but did fall behind as Mrdjenovich gained momentum over the second half of their main event battle.
With the fight seemingly on the table, Mrdjenovich put an exclamation point on her revenge win. The 33-year old slipped to the canvas early in the 10th and final round, but recovered seconds later to score the lone knockdown of the bout. Matthysse sought to take the lead, but was clipped with a left hand that deposited her on the canvas for a mandatory eight count.
She rose to her feet and finished the fight, but not to the point of erasing what had become a pivotal two-point round. Had she remained on her feet and won the round, Matthysse would have escaped with a majority draw and her titles still intact.
Instead, it was Mrdjenovich who prevailed in a well-deserved win. In doing so, she advances to 36-10-1 (19KOs). The rematch came at the cost of giving up her mandatory ranking for what would have been a shot at International Boxing Federation (IBF) champ Jennifer Han, who will instead face unbeaten Gaelle Amand.
Han and recently crowned World Boxing Organization (WBO) Amanda Serrano have openly discussed the desire for full featherweight unification. That places a bulls-eye squarely on the back of Mrdjenovich, who reclaims her World Boxing Council (WBC) belt in addition to picking up the World Boxing Association (WBA) strap.
As for Matthysse, the loss adds to the recent woes suffered in her boxing family. Five months after watching Lucas bow out in the 10th round of his vacant title fight versus Viktor Postol, older sis ends her featherweight title reign of more than two years. The loss sends the 35-year old's ring record to 14-8-1(1KO).
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox