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It's not quite accurate to say that Jessica Mohs will take 20 years of experience into the boxing ring April 11 for her showdown fight against once-beaten Karen Martin.

But, in many ways, it's not that far from the truth, either.

The Minnesota native joined her first boxing gym when she was just 10, and when she fought amateur exhibitions back then, she did so as a "boy"; for you see, they didn't allow young girls to fight so "long" ago. She boxed for three years, until age 13 and as she puts it -- "then I had to be a girl". There was no more hiding the fact that she was a female in a male sport. It was a retirement that never sat well with the personable 30 year-old featherweight-- "I remembered loving it as a kid" -- who four years ago went back into the gym to pick up where she had left off more than a decade ago.

And after six pro fights, the payoff came last month, with a convincing first-round TKO of Rita Valentini that moved Mohs' professional mark to 4-3.

"I've usually taken fights with opponents with better records than me, I've kind of had to take what I can get," Mohs noted. "My previous fights, I've gone in thinking 'I have to knock her out, I have to knock her out' and try
and force it. This time I was like 'you know what, I'm just going to go in and have fun.' I was more relaxed than ever. I didn't even try to knock her out."

It was her first appearance for Oscar De La Hoya's promotion company, who called just three days after her win to line up Mohs a second time for Thursday's card.

"I'd been wondering if I could do it. I know when I train, my trainer's like, 'you've got the power.' It's just taking from what I do on the training mitts into the ring, which is a mental thing," she added, after living up to her nickname of 'Good Nite" Mohs. Valentini was on the canvas three times before being stopped. "I knew I had it in me, I just wasn't really sure if I could do it in the ring. So when it happened, it was a real confidence builder."

Strangely, that feeling found it genesis in her loss last November to Linda Tenberg in the curtain raiser at the star-studded "Texas Shootout I" all-female card in Austin, a loss that snapped Mohs' two-fight win streak.

"I was in top shape. After the fight I felt like I could go a few more rounds," she said about her closer-than-the- scorecard-indicated defeat.  "But I was tired by the end of every round and I know it's because I was trying to force things. I felt like I was throwing my arm out there and it was taking forever to bring it back. So I wasn't in mental shape for it, but I think I've got that down now. Sparring after that fight, I got more relaxed. One night before I was going in to the gym -- I hadn't sparred in about a week -- I got a massage and I came in the next day I felt really relaxed, and I almost knocked my opponent out a couple of times sparring, and I was like 'I didn't even think I hit you that hard.' That's when I realized I just have to relax my body, that's the key."

In Martin, Mohs will find her sternest test date for the new-found confidence. Martin, 5-1-0, is coming off her first professional loss, a January 31 split decision against talented Jo Jo Wyman.

"I know she's going to be tough, and I haven't had a lot of time to train, but I'm going to keep the same attitude, go in and just have fun," Mohs said. "I think really what's been holding me back more than anything - I've trained six days a week full time, physically been in top shape and still lost fights -- it's the mental. Now I think I'm grounding myself and finally getting the confidence and getting a little more relaxed in there and it will definitely make a difference."

Both have faced a common opponent, Marilyn Salcido, earlier in their respective careers. Martin earned a four-round unanimous decision, while Mohs dropped her four rounder.

"It's kind of a make it or break it," Mohs said of the Martin fight "If I lose, it will be to someone who's got a good track record and done well in the sport, so it wouldn't be a detrimental loss, but if I win, it will be a sweet victory. It will prove a lot to myself which matters more than anything. It will let me know whether or not I can think about a title."

Brian Ackley -WBAN Senior Editor
April 10, 2002





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