After a decorated career in karate and an equally impressive run as an amateur boxer, Marie-Eve Dicaire informed her team that she intended to turn pro. She didn’t exactly get a rousing response.

“My team told me, ‘We cannot tell you no, but it's gonna be hard,’” Dicaire recalled with a chuckle. “But actually, it was not that hard because Yvon (Michel) trusted us really fast, he gave us an opportunity and we seized it.”

Michel, Canada’s premier promoter, has long been a supporter of women’s boxing, so it wasn’t a surprise that he signed Quebec’s Dicaire in early 2016, after just two pro fights. More than six years later, Dicaire is the leader of the Groupe Yvon Michel pack that includes Kim Clavel, Marie-Pier Houle and Caroline Veyre, and she’s the first of her compatriots to cap off the biggest year in Canadian women’s boxing to date when she puts her IBF junior middleweight title on the line against WBC / WBO champion Natasha Jonas this Saturday in Manchester, England. Turns out she was right all along.

“Since day one of this adventure, I think it's pretty cool that I have a chance to make a living out of my passion and my sport,” she said. “If we go back seven or eight years ago, nobody could have done that. So we're getting a lot more that can do that and live out their passion. There's a lot of good fights coming up, championship fights, so here in Canada, specifically Quebec, women's boxing is really popular, and it's amazing because all the little girls that watch us, it allows them to dream, to pursue their dream and to catch their dream.”

From the start, Dicaire’s dreams were clear. Win a world title, then unify it. She hit the first part in December of 2018 when she defeated Chris Namus for the IBF title at 154 pounds. She successfully defended it three times before running into the buzzsaw that is Claressa Shields. Their unification fight in March of 2021 was dominated by the Michigan native, leaving with her first loss in 18 pro fights.

Undeterred, Dicaire found herself in a bout with Cynthia Lozano for the now vacant IBF belt nine months later, and she regained the belt, earning her first TKO win in the process.

“I didn't dislike that,” Dicaire laughs. “It's pretty cool. My night was shorter than expected.”

The seventh-round finish might have been unexpected but getting the belt back and putting herself in position to unify again wasn’t. It was exactly the way she wanted it. 

“I was happy to be back in a championship fight right after this loss,” she said. “To me, I wasn't able to conceive that I was gonna have to climb my way back to the top. I wanted a championship fight, I wanted to be unified champion, so I didn't want to waste no time, so I was happy to be in a title bout right after this. To me, it was only a step towards this upcoming fight because this is what I was hoping for since November of 2019. When I got out of the ring in Quebec (after a win over Ogleidis Suarez), I said my next fight is gonna be a unification bout and that's what we did with Shields. I lost and I wanted to get back as soon as possible on it, so to me, it was only a step to gain back this title and to be able to go for a big fight after that.”

Now she finds herself in her opponent’s backyard in England. On paper, it looks like a daunting prospect for someone who has only fought outside of Canada once as a pro (against Shields), but as the 36-year-old explains, being a road warrior is nothing new for her.

“What's funny is, as a pro I fought most of my career in Canada, but as an amateur I traveled a lot and also in karate I used to travel a lot, too,” Dicaire said. “I traveled to Europe and the USA all the time, so, to me, it was more of a difference to have the chance to fight over here (Canada) than to travel because that's what I did all my life. This is an opportunity for me to catch up on traveling. I love being outside, I love how it brings us closer - my team and I - and how we are on a mission when we go outside. So I'm pretty happy and thrilled about it.”

Dicaire is also thrilled to get her second shot at unification against an opponent like Jonas, who has come up the hard way in the pros since representing Great Britain in the 2012 Olympics. The Canadian respects that struggle, but when the bell rings, it will be all business.

“I know she has a great amateur background, she hasn't had an easy way in the pros and now she's doing great, and that's pretty cool, because I love facing good boxers and good opponents,” Dicaire said. “Her background speaks for itself, and I have a lot of respect for what she does, but I also beat the odds because nobody thought I would one day be where I am, and I'm going to continue beating the odds because I think I'm the underdog in this fight. It's a challenge that I love, a position that I love. I have a lot of respect for Natasha, but there's nothing that's gonna stop me from getting this win.”

Not even the always-looming specter of the judges calling the fight wrong?

“We have a job to do in the ring and I have no control over the judges,” she said. “I have control over my performance, I have control over what I'm gonna do in the ring and how I'm going to listen to my corner, how I'm going to apply the strategy and everything.”

That sounds like a champion talking.

Dicaire laughs.

“Well, I'm the champion.”