Olivia Gerula doesn’t talk about winning the IWBF super featherweight championship like it’s a possibility. She talks about it like it’s a done deal.
"It’s not if I win the title," said the fighter known as The Predator, who spent most of her life in North Kildonan. "It’s when."
Gerula will attempt to take the belt from Ronica Jeffrey, an undefeated Brooklyn fighter, on May 24 in White Plains, N.Y.
"I plan to stay a few extra days in New York to celebrate," said the 34-year-old, who sports a 13-13-2 record.
Gerula hasn’t been in the ring since December 2011, the result of a seemingly endless string of bad luck that saw five fights cancelled or delayed for a variety of reasons. But she’s taken it all in stride, and is hoping the extra time to train with her new coach, Kent Brown, will turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
"It’s been long overdue, and I’m really amped up," she said during a training session last week at Brown’s Elite Boxing and MMA Academy. "In this sport, you just need to roll with the punches. In the long run, it might serve me well."
Gerula and Brown had sparred together in the past, but it wasn’t until a year ago that he became her full-time coach. Gerula now wishes she had been training with Brown all along.
"I feel like my career would’ve been further along than it is now," she said. "I feel like I’m on top of my game now. I’ve really worked on sitting on my punches and throwing with more power. I’m a much cleaner fighter technically."
Gerula says a win in New York would be the second biggest of her career, behind only her WBC championship victory. She successfully defended that title twice — once in Paris and once at home — before losing it on a controversial decision in Sweden.
The IWBF belt would likely earn Gerula a date with the WBA champ, a Peruvian fighter who hasn’t been willing to step in the ring with Gerula thus far.
But first, she needs to take care of a fighter that she admits she knows very little about. While Jeffrey’s 12-0 mark looks daunting, Gerula says she doesn’t recognize any of the names of the fighters she’s beaten. And she won’t watch film of any of her opponents, because she doesn’t want to get caught off guard if they change up their styles.
"I hear she’s a busy fighter," Gerula said, "and technically slick. She just fought last month, so that should be interesting."
When the opening bell finally rings, Gerula will be back to doing the thing she loves most for the first time in 17 months.
"If I’m not boxing, I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing," she said. "I’m back in the game."