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Holm enters ring one last time

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Holm says retirement from boxing ring is ’99.9 percent’ sure thing

There are more than a few boxing fans in Albuquerque hoping tonight won’t really be the last time they see Holly Holm in the ring.

“Merciless” Mary McGee, Holm’s opponent in tonight’s sold-out main event at Route 66 Casino Hotel, is in that group. The five-fight card starts at 7 p.m.

Not only is McGee a fan of Holm’s decade-plus, 14-time world championship career, but if McGee upsets Holm (32-2-3, 9 KOs) tonight and takes claim of the IBA and WBF light welterweight championship belts, there is a good chance Holm won’t want to leave the sport on a sour note.

“I may love Holly and respect what she’s done, but I’m a fighter and I’m not here so she can win,” said McGee. “I love this opportunity to fight her, and I know she is where she is because she’s had opportunities along the way. That’s what this is for me. I hope I get a fair shot (tonight).”

McGee, a Gary, Ind., native who has a 20-1 professional record with 11 knockouts, is certainly no pushover for Holm’s boxing swan song before she focuses full time on a professional mixed-martial arts career.

“She’s a great fighter,” Holm said. “I know she’s not here to lose. She knows that this is a big fight, and she knows that I want to go out with a bang. That’s why I know she’s going to be ready for a fight.”

More specifically, Holm’s coach Mike Winkeljohn said, McGee is a very underrated fighter in terms of her vision and anticipation of what’s coming.

“She can counterpunch,” Winkeljohn said of McGee. “She keeps her eyes open. That’s the biggest thing that I saw. She knows what’s coming and when it’s coming. She understands the game.”

Though Holm wouldn’t get into specifics, she made it clear she wants to show fans some new things tonight.

“We’ve been working on a lot of things to capitalize – things that I want to do in the ring that I haven’t done,” Holm said. “Maybe I’ve done them in practice, but I haven’t shown it to you. I want to showcase it.”

As for whether she’ll box again, win or lose tonight, Holm said her retirement is a “99.9 percent” sure thing.

Holm weighed in at 139.2 pounds Friday, McGee at 137.

A COMEBACK: Albuquerque’s Rocky “El Torito” Romero was 2-0 in his promising professional boxing career in 2002 when he was supposed to sign with a new promoter out of New York. When that fell through, so did his boxing career.

Now, 11 years later, the West Mesa graduate returns to the ring tonight for his third pro fight against Michael “Coca” Gallegos (1-10-1, 1 KO) in a four-round lightweight tilt on the Holm-McGee undercard.

“It was a tough journey (back),” Romero said. “It wasn’t like I just decided one day to fight again. It was thought out. There was a lot of prayer. I talked to my dad about it, and I think there’s still something I can bring to the table. This won’t be a one-fight thing. I’m going to make a good run of this.”

Of Gallegos, fight promoter Lenny Fresquez said: “His record is very deceiving.”

NOTES: Eight of the 10 fighters on tonight’s card are from Albuquerque with the exceptions of McGee and Armando Gonzales (Tucson).

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