Jelena Mrdjenovich after loss to Erika Cruz: “I feel a little cheated”
Jelena Mrdjenovich lost the WBA featherweight title to Erika Cruz via technical decision on Thursday night, and the 38-year-old veteran said in her post-fight interview on “Inside the Ropes” that she was disappointed the fight was stopped when it was.
“She came to fight and go to war,” said Mrdjenovich. “I am super disappointed that the fight was stopped. I got away from my game plan and it’s disappointing to lose my world title. I fight well in the later rounds and I am disappointed I didn’t get to show that. I have been known to drop my opponents in the later rounds. I felt I was starting to find my groove and I am just disappointed.”
Mrdjenovich (41-11-2, 19 KO) had, to put it lightly, a rough night at the office. A cut caused referee Benjy Esteves to send the fight to the cards early, and while it was ruled an accidental head clash, replays from Ring City USA indicated it was a clean punch that caused the cut. The heads did clash repeatedly between the fighters.
To say that Mrdjenovich “got away from (her) game plan” would be an understatement, too. Trainer Johnathon Banks implored her between each round to box and stop “giving the fight away,” and when Mrdjenovich complained about the stoppage in her corner, Banks said he didn’t like it but couldn’t get too upset because he understood why Esteves made the call.
Mrdjenovich fought Cruz’s (13-1, 3 KO) fight throughout, and was getting out-worked and worked over for much of the fight. Maybe the fight didn’t need to be stopped when it was — we’ve seen worse cuts — but Esteves was right there with the action, and it was his call. He’d also halted the action the prior round to have the doctor take a look at Mrdjenovich.
Cruz, 30, may now be moving on to a unification fight with Amanda Serrano, who was showing watching the bout from home, and recently won on the Ring City series, beating Daniela Bermudez on March 25.
But Mrdjenovich has hopes for a possible rematch, and definitely doesn’t sound like she’s considered this being her last fight — something Serrano suggested it should be on Twitter. Mrdjenovich lost every round on all three judges’ cards.
“Sometimes it doesn’t go your way,” Mrdjenovich said. “I am going to lick my wounds a little bit and get back to the drawing board. We will see about a rematch. I feel a little cheated tonight.”