In what could turn out to be the biggest “little” fight of the year, WIBA Women’s International Boxing Federation flyweight champion Elena “Baby Doll” Reid of Las Vegas will defend her title against unbeaten Eileen “The Hawaiian Mongoose” Olszewski, a native of Honolulu who fights out of New York, on Thursday, February 28th, at the Roseland Ballroom in midtown Manhattan.
Headlining the show, which is called “The Russians Are Coming” and is being co-promoted by Gotham Boxing and Bash Boxing, is 29-year-old Dimitri “The Baby” Kirilov, 29-3 (9 KOs), of Los Angeles via St. Petersburg, Russia.
He will defend his IBF junior bantamweight title against Cecilio “Boga” Santos, 22-8-2 (12 KOs), of Mexico.
Local favorite Dmitriy “Star of David” Salita, 27-0-1 (15 KOs), who is from Odessa, Ukraine, but fights out of Brooklyn, will face Mexico’s Fabian “El Lobo” Luque, 21-6-5 (12 KOs).
Undefeated lightweight Jorge “The Truth” Teron, 19-0-1 (11 KOs), of the Bronx, will clash with Sandro Marcos, 27-16-2 (23 KOs), of Mexico for the vacant WBO Intercontinental Lightweight Championship.
And Jon “The Fighting Marine” Schneider, 7-1 (5 KOs), of Yonkers, will tangle with Boston police officer Tyrone Smith, 5-5-1 (2 KOs), in a six-round heavyweight special attraction.
As exciting as the featured bouts will be, you can bet that all eyes will be on Reid and Olszewski, who many consider to be two of the finest female practitioners in the sport.
The 26-year-old Reid, 19-3-5 (5 KOs), has been fighting professionally since 2000. She lost a close decision and also battled to a draw with longtime world champion Regina Halmich in Halmich’s home country of Germany.
In her last ring appearance, in late December, she became the first active boxing champion to officially fight in the MMA when she scored a second-round knockout over Tammie Schneider in Las Vegas.
“I stopped her with a body shot,” said Reid, who added that she prefers boxing to the MMA but temporarily switched sports to bring more visibility to her career.
She began her participation in sports while still a youngster in her hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, when she was the only girl to make a boy’s soccer team. She eventually took up kickboxing, which she said “fit like a glove.”
When her interest in kickboxing evolved into boxing, one of the first things she remembers telling herself was that she had to one day fight in New York.
“That was on my check-off list of things I just had to do in my life,” said Reid. “And here I am. This is a dream come true for me. I still can’t believe it.”
But, she adds, she will have to bring her A-game to beat the immensely gifted and two-inch taller Olszewski.
“I know that Eileen was a very established amateur, and that she’s beautiful and talented,” said Reid. “But I have made plans to deal with her by taking advantage of my southpaw stance and jabbing all night long. Jabs win fights, but body shots are my favorite.”
If she beats Olszewski, 4-0-1 (0 KOs), she will celebrate by seeing a Broadway show and partaking in such local culinary delights as bagels, pizza and pasta.
Because fighting in the Big Apple is so exciting for her, she wants to take advantage of the entire experience.
If Olszewski has her way, Reid might be too dejected to want to hang around New York after the final bell rings.
Television commentator Dave Bontempo has said that both male and female boxers could learn from Olszewski’s superb ring generalship. He glowingly compared her to an “old-time” fighter.
Another time he said it appeared that it looked like she was “gliding” in the ring.
In her last fight, in September 2007, Olszewski traveled to Italy to take on local favorite Stefania Bianchini for the latter’s WBC female flyweight title.
After 10 tough rounds, the bout was declared a draw. Still, Olszewski, a former dancer for the New York Knicks basketball team and a three-time New York City Golden Gloves titlist, is undeterred in her quest to become a champion.
“Elena has been a top fighter for many years,” said the deeply-grounded and spiritual Olszewski. “I thought she won both fights with Halmich. But I’ve done my homework and I’m ready to rumble and win my first world title.”
When asked if she was happy to be fighting at home after her disappointing result in Italy, she said it didn’t matter where she laced them up.
“Pressure is pressure,” she said. “If you choose to be a fighter, you’re going to feel pressure. It doesn’t matter who or where you fight.”
Ticket prices range from $200 to $50 and are available through Ticketmaster by calling Gotham Boxing at 212-755-1944.