5'1" Canadian junior bantamweight "Mean" Margaret Sidoroff turned pro after posting a 13-0 record as an amateur boxer in Canada
Born on May 17, 1973 in London, Ontario, Margaret was the 1997 Novice Ontario champion.
She defeated the Ontario Open Class champion by an 11-0 tally that year ... but could not compete in
the Canadian National championships ... as she had not been in enough bouts!
She won the 1998 Ontario Open Class Championship and went on
take the 1998 Canadian National 51-kg Championship in style on January 17, 1998 by
defeating Nova Scotia champion Katherine Lewis by a 14-3 tally. The day before she had earned
her place in the final by defeating Quebec champion Janique Veronneau
Canadian amateur boxer Misty Shearer sent me this ringside
description of Margaret's national title win: 'In the first round both
fighters were a little hesitant. Margaret was the stronger of the two but
Katherine was not afraid to step in and throw some good combinations.
Margaret has a really nice style. I just think she was really nervous, she
was pretty tense all three rounds. Katherine had a really good defense and
never backed down but Margaret was just too strong."
This win earned Margaret the right to represent Canada at the Acropolis Cup Women's
World Championships in Greece, but the tourney was canceled when two few
boxers registered for the male division!
Margaret settled for her amateur "Dream Match"
... against the 1998 54-kg Canadian Champion, Quebecer Patricia Picotin, in front of 12,000
fans at Montreal's Molson Centre. Disappointing her rival's hometown fans,
Margaret was victorious in this, her final amateur bout.
Margaret overwhelmed Heidi O'Burke
in her pro debut in June 1998!
On June 30, 1998 at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey,
Margaret (117 lbs) burst onto the pro boxing scene, winning her debut by TKO at 0:52
in the second round over Heidi O'Burke (123 lbs) of Syracuse,
New York, who fell to 1-2.
Margaret moved her pro record to 2-0 with 2 KO's on September 11, 1998
at the Tropicana in Atlantic City when Silver Spring, Maryland's previously
unbeaten (2-0-2) Rose Johnson
did not answer the bell for the third round. Sidoroff had knocked Johnson
down in the first round and dominated the second in another strong
performance that showed she would be a handful for anyone in her weight
On December 12, 1998 in Detroit, Michigan, Margaret's body attack proved too
much for debut fighter Donyale Williams of Ashtabula, Ohio, who retired
midway through the first round. The Ashtabula gym is famous for
producing "opponents" who make early exits, and this would be the only time
in her career that Sidoroff took an "easy" fight just to stay busy.
Margaret had showed impressive speed, balance and power in recording three straight KO
victories as a pro boxer, but she now needed to face more formidable opponents to
make her real mark on the sport!
Margaret battles Eva-Jones-Young and takes home the IWBF belt!
Unlike boxers who look for a string of "sure things" close to home to
build their early career records, Margaret seized a big opportunity on February 26, 1999, when she stepped into
the ring in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands to take on then 11-1-1 Eva Jones-Young
for the IWBF bantamweight title. Rated as a 3-1 underdog against Jones-Young
a pre-fight poll of
Women's Boxing Page readers, Margaret was fighting one weight class above her usual
weight (and 10 lbs lighter at fight time than a strong, seasoned opponent). Margaret
piled on the pressure in the late going to earn a hard-fought split
decision over a grueling ten rounds.
On March 1, 1999 Margaret wrote to my web site's Forum: "If only you
all could have seen the fight! I also want to thank Eva again for the
opportunity, and hope that we can do it again really soon (title for title
maybe?) I really underestimated Eva's strength and savvy. She
out-weighed me by at least ten pounds the day of the fight and for the
first time I found myself being tossed around in the clinches. And the
head butts! That was one thing my amateur career could not prepare me for.
Josh put me into the ring a little cold, just in case I had trouble with
the ten rounds and Eva capitalized on that. She cracked me in the second,
and by the time I was warmed up at the end of the third, I had a huge
deficit to make up. Things went well for me the second part of the fight,
and the climax came at the end of the 10th round when I trapped Eva in a
corner and landed some beauty punches (my hands still hurt!) But Eva is a
great champion, and as she came flying out of the corner we once again
butted heads - you should see my lump! It went to the cards, and the judge
that gave Eva the bout also awarded us five even rounds. And it really was
that close. Eva is certainly the greatest competitor I've ever faced. Not
only do I look forward to a rematch with her, but hope to fight one of the
excellent champions at my natural weight of 112 lbs, or challenge one of
the top contenders at 115 lbs for a title in that division. If I got a
shot at Bridgett (Riley) that would be fun too."
Margaret's giant-killing win came as no surprise to those who
know her well. IWBF featherweight champion
Beverly Szymanski, who had
sparred with Margaret, wrote about
her in the same Forum the day after the title fight:
"I know how tough she is, and how hard she pushes
herself...I knew she would give a good fight. There aren't too
many girls who will outwork Margaret."
Margaret now held a major federation world title belt
after just her fourth professional appearance ... but one division above
her preferred weight! A few months later, having made a huge
impression on the women's boxing world with her "underdog" victory,
she relinquished this IWBF belt to return to competing
in her natural junior bantamweight division.
Brenda Burnside and Margaret Sidoroff in New Orleans
Photo courtesy Margaret Sidoroff
On June 16, 1999 in New Orleans, Louisiana,
Margaret (111 lbs) won the WIBF Intercontinental Junior Bantamweight
title with a ten-round unanimous (98-91, 98-90, 100-89) decision over
Brenda Burnside of Albuquerque, New Mexico who fell
to 5-7-2. In an email after the bout,
Margaret said "I thought I'd write to let you know that the fight was
awesome! Brenda is a wonderful person and a very good fighter. She was a
great sport! I've been a pro boxer for almost a year now ... and Brenda had
the most heart out of all my opponents. When we got in there the first round
and I felt her power I knew it was going to be a hell of a fight! The
response for the fight was very good too. As far as what's next, I don't
care ... I'll fight anyone under 115 lbs. (I weighed in at 111 lbs again). I
have no problem making 108, but it's tough getting fights down there...
World Titles are great, and they will come, but for now I want to fight the
On July 20, 1999 at Casino Windsor in Windsor, Ontario,
Margaret again weighed in at 111 lbs and won a six-round unanimous decision over
Leona Brown (4'11', 116 lbs) of
Pawling, New York. Leona took the fight to Margaret at first,
leading off and winning the inside exchanges in the opener. Sidoroff found a home for a sharp right uppercut in the second
but Brown roared back in the third and applied pressure with Sidoroff
winging wide right counters to the body. Brown was wobbled by a Sidoroff
right and they went toe to toe with Sidoroff busier. Sidoroff kept the
pressure on the rest of the way with Brown beginning to fade.
This win moved Margaret's pro record to 6-0 and dropped Brown to 7-2.
Margaret wrote to me after this fight: "Leona has some
unorthodox methods of fighting on the inside, but other than that we had a
lot of fun ... I feel I probably gave up two rounds to Leona ... the
reason I lost those two rounds was my own stupidity! I decided to test the
waters and go head to head with Leona. She weighed in at 116 and I was at
111, but it's amazing the strength difference the weight can make! Josh
says that was the reason I was unable to knock Leona down even though I
was landing cleanly. She's been in there with heavier hitters than me ...
Eva [Jones-Young] and Katie [Burton] ... and wasn't rocked by them either.
So I switched gears and used speed to off-set her power. The crowd loved
it and I just can't wait to get back in there!" (Leona Brown
called for a rematch on her home turf!)
Winning the IFBA Flyweight title vs. Jolene Blackshear
© Copyrighted photo by Sue TL Fox
On February 11, 2000 in Kenner, Louisiana,
Margaret (108 lbs) won a hard-fought ten-round unanimous (98-92,98-92,97-93)
to take the IFBA Flyweight title from
Jolene Blackshear (111 lbs)
of Rohnert Park, California. Blackshear had been out of the
ring for over a year but she showed no ring rust as she won the
first two rounds and tagged Sidoroff repeatedly with her hard-charging aggressive
style. Margaret improved the timing of her counter lefts in the
third and the fight turned around in the middle rounds. Sidoroff
showed great head movement and superb reflexes to slip Blackshear's
punches while landing her own busy and effective combinations.
As Blackshear fell behind on points, she escalated the
pressure and the final round was a war with both fighters taking
and dishing out significant punishment. Sidoroff rose to the
challenge and was backing Blackshear up as they went toe to toe
to end an exciting, skilled and heart-filled bout in a
unanimous decision for Margaret.
The real winner may have been women's boxing in the USA as
the bout was carried live on ESPN2 and drew non-stop
praise from the Friday Night Fights commentators.
Sidoroff was now 7-0 with 3 KO's, while Blackshear
fell to 4-2 with 2 KO's.
Check out Margaret's
post-fight interview in which
she commented on her strategy for the fight with Jolene Blackshear
and her thoughts about fighting in Germany.
On April 6, 2000 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada,
Margaret won the
IWBF World Flyweight title by unanimous (99-91, 99-91, 96-95) decision
after a toe to toe ten-round battle with Spokane, Washington's
Para Draine, a former holder of
the IWBF belt. Draine and Sidoroff traded punishing shots all night
in a battle that had the fans on their feet several times.
Sidoroff was cut on top of her head by an accidental bump of heads
in the seventh, a round that produced some of the fight's best action.
Sidoroff finished strongly as usual, working the taller Draine
relentlessly with head-body combinations in the ninth after Draine
had shown signs of turning the fight her way in the eighth.
"I got hit a little bit but when you're in there the adrenaline
is flowing, you don't really feel it much," said Sidoroff. "Tomorrow I'm sure I'll feel the cut on my head but right now
I feel too good to feel anything." The new two-belt champion
came to the Women's Boxing Forum and also wrote to me after she got
home to Windsor (read her full post-fight comments
Women's boxing was also the winner as this fight was
the high point of a four-fight card before 3,500 fans. Sidoroff was
now 8-0 and appeared to be running out of opponents who could test her and were
willing to step into the ring with her. Draine, who
fell to 10-4 with this loss, continued to impress with her willingness to take
on tough opponents, going on to defeat Marilyn Salcido and Bridgett Riley
Margaret fought to a draw with Wendy Rodriguez
© Copyrighted photo taken by Sandy Goldberg
On October 28, 2000 at Miccosukee Indian Gaming in Miami, Florida,
the IBA Junior Flyweight title went unclaimed when
Margaret, weighing in at 108 lbs and
Wendy Rodriguez (also 108 lbs)
from Los Angeles, California fought to a 10-round draw.
The scorecards were 95-95, 96-94 Rodriguez, and 96-94 Sidoroff.
USA, The smaller Rodriguez countered Sidoroff's size
and experience edge by tying her up and back-pedaling in the early rounds,
then finished strongly in the last three rounds to keep it close. Sidoroff said
in a post-fight interview that she felt she had done enough for the win, but that she also realized
that she should have done more to ensure the win against the crafty Rodriguez.
Sidoroff moved her pro record to 8-0-1, while Rodriguez was 3-1-2.
On the evening after the fight, Margaret wrote a letter
to my web site explaining that she had decided to
retire from competition before this fight, and would
now become a boxing coach.
pro career was all too short for her fans, but it will be hard to surpass as
an example of sportsmanship and excellence. Five of her nine pro bouts
were 10-round title fights, and she took home three world titles. She is
"Mean" only by nickname, was quick to praise and respect her opponents, and
was gracious in victory in a sport that sometimes lacks that quality. She
got to the top quickly, but by dint of hard work and a willingness to take
on the best early in her pro career, after thoroughly mastering boxing
technique as an amateur. In a sport that has more than its share of
protected pretenders, Sidoroff was the "real deal", unafraid to take on the
best to prove that she was the best.
In a November 1999 interview
with Canada's Standing Eight boxing website,
Margaret spoke out against male-female boxing and the infamous Loi Chow vs.
fight that took place that month in a blaze of worldwide publicity of the
sort that few female pro boxing bouts have ever attracted. She told Standing Eight's Angelo Mangiacasale:
"I don't think it is proving anything, except that a skilled female fighter can
beat a male bum. I don't think the outcome would have been the same if she (McGregor)
was fighting a male fighter of equal caliber. I mean if I go in the ring with Eric
Morales, I may last 30 seconds. Biologically women cannot compete with men of the
Margaret lives in Windsor, Ontario and her club is the
Border City Boxing Club.
She is now married to her former trainer Josh Canty.
Other Margaret Sidoroff links
To check out fight reports, complete up-to-date boxing records, with huge digital photos you can go to
the WBAN Records Member Site
Page last updated:
Friday, 09 August 2013