It’ll be a classic Canada vs USA battle at 209 Beatdown 5 on Saturday night.
Melissa Croden, 27, (Calgary, Alta.) will meet Alyssa Pallen, 24, (Sacramento, CA) in an amateur women’s bantamweight title bout in the evening’s co-main event in Stockton, CA.
Croden (3-0) said she’s excited and motivated at the chance of leaving California with the belt around her waist, and further building her resume as she ascends towards the professional ranks following this contest.
“It’s pretty exciting actually,” said Croden in an interview.
“One of the reasons I was very solid on following through to take this title fight is I feel it gives me a little leverage going forward in my career.”
While Croden’s home gym remains Warrior Path Martial Arts in Calgary, she made the trip to New Mexico for the second time this year to spend part of her training camp working with Greg Jackson and the team at Jackson Wink.
She said her experience at Jackson Wink has been better than she ever expected, and feels it’s taken her overall game to another level.
“Everyone that trains at Jackson’s are all very serious about the sport, and being around people that have committed their lives to this lifestyle is very comforting,” said Croden.
“It’s allowed me to find my weaknesses a lot quicker because they’re all such high-level fighters. It’s really good to be able to force yourself to expose your weaknesses against people that have similar goals.”
Even before making the trip to Jackson Wink for the first time earlier this year, Croden had already compiled an impressive three wins, all by knockout or TKO.
She said with the help of the team at Jackson Wink and her team at Warrior Path, she envisions Saturday’s contest ending in a similar fashion to her first three bouts.
“I anticipate this going in a similar way to all my other fights,” said Croden.
“Pallen’s quite heavy on her forward pressure, so that really plays into my style. When people come forward like that, it usually adds energy to my punches.”
Pallen Brings the Excitement
But much like Croden, Pallen (2-0) has also finished both her fights by knockout or TKO, paving the way for a potential fight-of-the-night matchup.
Pallen said she’s proved she can score the finish in both the early and late stages of a fight, and said she expects the finishing trend to continue on Saturday night.
“I think it’s going to be a very exciting back and forth battle,” said Pallen in an interview.
“It doesn’t matter to me which round it finishes. I just know it’s going to be exciting, and a very entertaining fight to watch.”
With the event taking place in Stockton, Pallen has a quick 45-minute drive to make down the highway, a trip many of her friends and family will also be making.
Pallen said she’s very excited and grateful to have the opportunity to fight for a title in front her close friends and loved ones, and also be able to showcase all the skills she’s been fine-tuning in her training at Team Alpha Male.
“I’m very excited to show and prove everything I’ve been working hard on this past year,” said Pallen.
“I’m very excited I get to fight for the title and bring that belt home in front of all my friends and family. It means a lot that I get this opportunity.”
While winning the title is important to Pallen, she’s also competing for a much more emotional and meaningful reason.
Pallen said her uncle Fernando was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer five weeks ago, and said one thing he really wanted to do was watch her fight. With that in mind, Pallen said she pushed really hard to secure this fight in Stockton so she could help her uncle fulfill his wish.
Unfortunately, her uncle lost his battle with cancer and passed away two weeks ago. Pallen said although he may not be there in person Saturday night, she knows he’ll be there in spirt.
“I never once thought I would cancel the fight. It actually became more fuel for my fire,” said Pallen.
“This fight really means a lot to me, and I’ll be fighting in his memory, and with his spirit by me.”