THERE will be cake today for Olivia Gerula, for more than one good reason.
- It's the 34-year-old boxer's birthday;
- The countdown is finally on to her next fight, a title bout May 24 in White Plains, N.Y.;
- A frustrating string of cancelled, scrubbed or postponed fights appears to be, at long last, over.
Known as "The Predator," Gerula, will meet Brooklyn, N.Y.'s Ronica Jeffrey for the IWBF super featherweight championship of the world at the Westchecster County Center.
"I've decided that I'm allowed to have birthday cake all day because birthday cake is free of calories," Gerula said Tuesday, in a decidedly upbeat mood that a 17-month lull without a fight -- not of her doing -- is about to end.
"Even though I have to cut weight still (get to 126 pounds, super featherweight), I'm pretty sure it doesn't count."
The Winnipeg boxer, a gymnast and kick-boxer in earlier lives, has a career record of 13-13-2 and will finally get in the ring with Jeffrey, who's undefeated in 12 fights.
"I had a fight lined up three months after my last one (in December 2011), a title fight in Peru for the WBA title and something with the sanctioning decided it wasn't a go, and then I've had four other fights fall through," Gerula said.
"Ronica, I had her lined up to fight in October and January and it got cancelled and backers pulled out. I've trained for this particular fight for a good three, four months.
"I'm like a walking crazy person half the time. It's extremely frustrating. For me, it's a six-week regimen I follow and once I start to cut, train for the (particular) fight, that takes precidence (over) family, friends, boyfriend, all that stuff goes to the back burner."
She said postponed fights are all part of the game.
"It's not rare in boxing but to have five in a row do that, that's really rare," Gerula said.
Has the long break between bouts caused any rust?
"I won't say no," Gerula said. "I feel as if I'm in better condition, better shape than I've ever been. I'm with Kent Brown and Papa Dean, my new coaches and they have a lot of faith and trust in me and I'm really excited to have them in my corner and I'm really inspired for this new round.
"I can't wait to put to use all the things we've been working on."
One boxing publication says that Gerula, a former WBC super featherweight champion, has never been afraid to stick her neck out when it comes to matchups, both a good and ill-advised trait.
"I'm not afraid to fight anybody," she said Tuesday. "This one will give me my life back. I feel like I've been on a shelf. I have passion about it. I talked about retiring when I was 35, but what the heck, I've been sitting here more than a year. It's been crazy. I'm ready to go.
"This fight will say a lot about where I am and what I'm going to do for the last part of my career."
Jeffrey would appear to be a tall order, though title fights are not anything new for Gerula. By her own count, she's had at least a half-dozen.