Winnipeg's Olivia (The Predator) Gerula, the WBC female super featherweight champion, will make provincial boxing history here tonight just stepping into the ring.
She'll be part of the first-ever female main event, headlining the King John Boxing's Hometown Heroes card at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.
That's great, but what Gerula (12-10-2) cares about is the belt she plans to take with her out of the ring.
"I've always said, and it's true, that you enter the ring with the skills that you have, all the training you've done, it comes to that point," said Gerula, 31, who will meet Brooke Dierdorff Millbrook (6-4-1) of Somonauk, Ill. in a 10-round title defence fight. "Wherever I am fighting, there's four corners, there's a woman across the ring that wants to get what I have. She's after my title and I'm not going to let her get it."
Gerula, on a four-fight winning streak, won the title on April 9, 2009 beating Jelena Mrdjenovich and successfully defended her title with a win over Myriam Chomaz in Paris last December.
"It's amazing to be fighting at home. As soon as I won that world title, I thought how great it would be to be able to defend it at home and it's taken a year for that opportunity to come," Gerula said, noting she'll have family, friends, her Gateway soccer team and fitness clients she works with at the show.
"I'm hoping that with the amount of people that are coming out, they'll love what they see and keeping coming again so we can keep holding fights of this magnitude and this quality of fighters."
The card also includes former WBA Fedecentro champion Larry Sharpe in the last hometown fight of his professional career, and Chad Brisson, who's back in the local ring for the first time in several years.
"It's the first WBC world title defence here," said John Vernaus, Gerula's manager and the show's promoter, noting 1,700 seats were sold as of Wednesday night. A sellout would be 2,000. "Donny Lalonde had a WBC title (1987-1988), he never did defend it here. Olivia is defending her title here."
Millbrook, the WBC International female lightweight (135 pounds) champion, is looking to add a super featherweight (130 pounds) belt to her collection. Her last bout was a win in a higher weight class at 140 pounds (super lightweight) against the previously undefeated Mary McGee (17-1).
Millbrook, 29, said her fight is dedicated to the memory of her maternal aunt Karen who passed away June 10.
"That was a very rough time during training but I turned that around and used it as my fuel, that re-lit my fire and I decided I was going to dedicate this fight to her," Millbrook said. "I have no idea what Olivia is thinking, but I do know that unless I'm dead, there's no way I'm leaving without that belt. Because this fight is for her (aunt).
"Women don't get the glory of making the big paydays that the men make so the belts are all we have to show what we've worked for."
Millbrook said there is no way it will go the distance.
"I know it will be a very exciting fight because she's a very good pressure fighter, very action-packed fighter, throws a lot of punches and I'm the same way.
"Girl fights are always the fight of the night because they're way more action-packed. No... I don't think it'll go the distance. I don't think she can withstand my pressure. She has absolutely no idea."
About the bouts
King John Boxing presents HOMETOWN HEROES tonight at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. Doors open at 6 p.m., fights at 8. Age limit of 16 years and older.
Darby Smart of Chisholm, Minn. v. Hassan Wasswa of Minneapolis, Minn.
Nick Penner of Steinbach v. Dana Swan of Winnipeg
Chad Brisson of Winnipeg v. Jose Corona of Mexico City
Roland Vandal of Winnipeg v. Lee Laquette of Winnipeg (pro debut)
Larry (Razor) Sharpe of Pine Falls vs. Jose Corral of Agua Prieta, Mexico
Main event: Olivia (The Predator) Gerula v. Brooke (No Mercy) Dierdorff Millbrook