New Mexico Boxing

HolmVSYankovichDuda looks like a lady . . . but she's hoping to fight like a man
Yankovich challenges Holm in Albuquerque

Story & photos by Chris Cozzone

You’ll get no promises of victory, no proclamations of an upset, from undefeated Duda Yankovich.

What you will get, she promises, is a good fight.

On Saturday night, the former 140-pound champion – who is still 140 pounds despite a 147-pound weight limit – will give up weight, height, reach, experience and hometown advantage to six-time world champion Holly Holm.

Holm (23-1-3, 6 KOs) will put her WIBA welterweight title on the line against Yankovich (11-0, 5 KOs). Holm-Yankovich will headline a five-bout card promoted by Fresquez Productions at the Isleta Resort & Casino, south of Albuquerque, N.M.

“I am not worried about the hometown,” says Yankovich. “It enables me to concentrate on the fight, instead of suffering all the pressure from friends and family.

“I am also used to this. I know how it works out.”

Yankovich, 32, was born and raised in war-torn Jagodina, Serbia, and, after years of martial arts, switched to boxing. After moving to Sao Paulo, Brazil, Yankovich turned pro in 2005.

“Holly Holm, she’s a most difficult fighter,” admits Yankovich. “She’s a southpaw and technically clever. She’ll be my most difficult fighter I’ve faced.”

Yankovich and Holm share but one opponent—Belinda Laracuente—against whom both won unanimous decisions.

“I’ve seen a few of Holly’s fights – Christy Martin, Mary Jo Sanders, Jane Couch,” says Yankovich. “All are very good fighters. But I looked for mistakes they all made against Holly Holm, and I found them.”

Though she says she will reveal her game plan Friday night, she says she’s not arrogant enough to say she will be able to beat Holm.

But she is used to war.

“Oh baby, I’m so adapted for war,” says Yankovich. “I’m Serbian. I’ve lived, grew up, during four wars. I’m no stranger to it. You adapt and life becomes normal, even during wartime.”

Yankovich’s ability to adapt has earned her the nickname “Cameleon.”

“It’s always been easy to adapt for me,” says Yankovich, who arrived in New Mexico last week in order to acclimate herself to the high altitude.

“I know what to do, I am a functional boxer. I see what Holly does – she is not doing many difficult things. She has no need – she is southpaw and uses her reach. I will look for mistakes and openings. I know her strategy.”

On the other hand, boxing, says Yankovich, can be a “box of surprises.”

“Sometimes one punch can tell a different story.”