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Holm has a date May 11 in the ring

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Indiana’s McGee will contest for belt

LAGUNA PUEBLO – Mary McGee had never boxed professionally outside her home state of Indiana when she first came to New Mexico in December.

She returned to the Hoosier state having left Albuquerque’s rugged Victoria Cisneros in a state of disrepair.

McGee was back in the Land of Enchantment on Tuesday, introduced as Holly Holm’s opponent on a May 11 card at Route 66 Casino Hotel.

Holly Holm vs. Mary McGee for the IBA women’s junior welterweight title at the Route 66 Casino Hotel
⋄  Matthew Baca vs. TBD
⋄  Rocky Romero vs. TBD

For Albuquerque’s Holm, the talented but relatively untested boxer-puncher from Gary, Ind., represents a new puzzle to be solved.

“It’s part of the fun,” Holm (32-2-3, nine knockouts) said of the process that began Thursday night when she was informed of the McGee bout by promoter Lenny Fresquez, moments after she’d defeated Katie Merrill in an MMA fight at the Santa Ana Star Center. “It’s also part of the anxiousness. It’s the good, the bad and everything else.

“That’s what a fight is. The fight is a chess game. It’s your plan against theirs, your will against theirs and your conditioning against theirs.”

In December, McGee (20-1, 11 KOs) was impressive on all counts. In defeating Cisneros, she did two things Holm had not done in two fights against her fellow Albuquerquean: put her on the canvas and stop her short of the scheduled number of rounds.

En route to that victory by fourth-round TKO, McGee displayed dazzling speed of hand and foot, as well as power and accuracy.

“I’m a universal fighter,” she said Tuesday. “I can fight all ways. I can box; I can fight; I can brawl. I move around a lot; I can slip (punches). I just fight different ways.”

Where McGee suffers in comparison with Holm is in experience – 21 pro fights over eight years, compared with Holm’s 38 over 11 – and in strength of schedule. Only four of McGee’s opponents had winning records entering their fights with her; her one loss was to Brooke Dierdorf (6-5-1).

McGee is also the smaller fighter. She has weighed in for her last eight bouts at 138 pounds or less; Holm has fought at weights as high as 150.

The May 11 fight is to be contested at the junior welterweight limit of 140, with an IBA women’s title belt at stake.

McGee said she is acutely aware of the challenges Holm presents.

“It’s the biggest challenge in the world,” she said. “But when you become a boxer and you spend all those years training, you train for this day.

“It’s the challenge that you pray about and you dream about, and I’m happy.”

Holm said she would have been happy to have a little time off after the Merrill fight before having to think about McGee. But, she added, she’s content to leave those things to Fresquez and trainer-manager Mike Winkeljohn.

She’s also glad to have a bit of a head start. When Fresquez brought McGee in to fight Cisneros, he made it no secret that he saw her as a potential opponent for Holm.

“I’ve seen clips of her and Victoria’s fight,” Holm said. “I try to look at things that have been her strengths in fights and things like that. It hasn’t really been that much in-depth, but I have already started to look.

“How do you not, when you know the fight’s there?”

GLOVES FOR UGANDA: McGee said she’ll donate a portion of her fight purse to women’s amateur boxers in Uganda, who were unable to fight in a 2012 Olympic qualifying tournament for lack of funds.

“I want to go there and deliver (boxing equipment) myself,” she said.

THE UNDERCARD: Only one side of the May 11 undercard is filled. Welterweight Matthew Baca (3-0, two KOs), who other than Holm is Fresquez’s only contract fighter, is scheduled to fight a six-rounder.

Welterweight Brian Romero (2-0, two KOs), who last fought in August 2002, is making a comeback at age 30. He said he will campaign as Rocky, not Brian, Romero.
Holly Holm vs. Mary McGee for the IBA women’s junior welterweight title at the Route 66 Casino Hotel⋄  Matthew Baca vs. TBD⋄  Rocky Romero vs. TBD

May 11
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal