As remembered by Emma McGale
The second round started out pretty calmly. I was content to see how Tanille was going to react to losing the first round – I expected her to come out like a house on fire and try to overwhelm me, but that wasn’t how it played out. Tanille went back to the jab, throwing it both to my body and my head. I dealt with it pretty well, but a couple of jabs to the body landed. It was annoying and a little painful, but not debilitating. She was scoring points though.
It was time to be active. I took a small step forward behind a double jab – one slammed into Tanille’s guard, but the second one snuck between her gloves to hit the flesh behind. Paydirt. The double jab is such a fun technique because it often catches the other fighter unaware of the follow up – and sometimes if the first punch lands, you can get two solid jabs in.
Clearly annoyed by my success, Tanille came forward and I decided to try to meet her with a another jab, but her right hand was so fast it was colliding into my jaw before I can even react to it.
A little bit taken aback, I pulled my arms in close to prevent further punches, but Tanille smartly changed levels to throw a left hand directly into my breadbasket. I felt the pain and hear the impact almost at the same time, and it did not feel good to take such a punch that I wasn’t prepared for. I went into damage limitation mode and stepped forward to smother Tanille’s punches and grabbed on to her before she could land a 3rd punch to the combo. She tried, but I was stronger than she was, and I hold on for a break.
Absorbing a combination like that gave me a lot of pause, not only did those punches hurt, I hadn’t been ready for either of them. It seemed that I was getting the full version of Tanille Taylor this round. Tanille went back to the jab, but unlike the first round, she freely fired off her right hand behind her jab. I got popped with a quick jab just around my left eye and then just barely managed to avoid the right hand the follow-up that came behind it. These punches aren’t just fast, she’s throwing punches to hurt. That’s a bit different from the early Tanille Taylor fights, where it didn’t look like she had any power. As I absorbed another half-decent punch, I’m forced to admit that she certainly does have some pop. Not Virani level, but enough to make me take notice.
That meant that I needed to pay more attention to my defence, so I kept my guard tight, trying to prevent any more punches from landing. It paid dividends as I block a pair of incoming jabs from Tanille, who at this point in the round seemed content to snipe at me from a distance. It was leaving me with an interesting choice. I could keep my guard up, and probably block her punches, but I wasn’t going to carving out openings for myself which might be a problem…
Tanille smirked at me as she stands back for a moment. I would have traded my entire bank account for a clean punch to wipe that girl’s smile off of her face. Which I supposed, was the point. I was a bit too wary to got that aggressive, right now I needed to pay attention to my defence, but Tanille has decoded that she has made me passive, so she’s free to get a bit more aggressive. She jabbed, bringing my guard up, before she went low and drove home a right hand to my midsection that I did not see coming.
Air escaped my lips as Tanille’s punch thudded home. Oof…that one stung. Tanille was just so fast and deceptive, I couldn’t figure out where her punches were heading before they landed and she was landing a huge percentage of her punches. It was like a snowball going downhill, picking up speed and momentum. Tanille’s confidence was growing, which was something that I had kind of hoped to avoid.
The latter part of this round turned into an onslaught from Tanille. I was getting a first class lesson in why she was nicknamed ‘The Prodigy.’ White leather flew freely and I could barely avoid the worst of the incoming punches. I still got caught over and again. It wasn’t just the speed of Tanille, it was the angles that she was throwing the punches from, I couldn’t figure out where the next punch was even coming from. It was making me static and allowing Tanille to land more and more uncontested punches. After a barrage of white leather I covered up and closed my guard, but Tanille threw a rocket of a right hand through my guard, jolting my entire body backwards. My head swam for a moment…I hadn’t thought that there was an opening for a punch like that, let alone a punch with that much on it. This was overwhelming.
This was going from bad to worse and not only was she landing punches, they are really hurting me. These weren’t just pitter-patter punches that score points these were ‘I’m trying to knock you senseless’ punches, and I can tell my body was not reacting well to getting hit by a number of them in a row, my vision was clouding over and I could feel my legs weakening. I know that just trying to block and avoid these punches was not working for me, so with time in the round running out and Tanille shepherding me towards the corner, out of desperation I decide that I can’t just sit here and try to defend my way out, I have to hit back. My first right hand almost clipped Tanille as she walked me down, which slowed Tanille’s progress slightly. I tried the trick the next time she stepped in, but this time Tanille’s right hand was there first and it snapped my head hard to the right. Instantly my legs went weak and my vision blurred badly…I’m really hurt….
I was in involuntary defensive mode as I leaned down and turned away from Tanille, hoping to just survive without ending up on the canvas. I don’t get any warning when a glove smashed into my jaw and chin. My mouthpiece flew from my mouth as my head and neck twisted to the right. My knees buckled badly and I just about fell over…
I swayed desperately to avoid any more punches from Tanille, and I almost fell over in doing so. I heard the crowd shouting and I felt the sounds of near misses, and then, mercifully, the ring of the bell.
I walked past Tanille as she smirked at me. I look down as I focus on walking back to the corner, consciously trying to put one foot in front of the other without stumbling. I knew the ref was watching me, after that round, but I make it back to the corner fine…but there’s no way I would call myself recovered at all. I could use a power outage to delay the next round…
Laila Ali: “The Prodigy, Tanille Taylor absolutely dominated Emma McGale in Round 2, showcasing all the skills that have made her a hyped prospect. Taylor has been criticized in the past for not being able to finish off opponents when she starts to overwhelm them, seemingly content to just toy with them. We’ll see if Taylor has learned from that or if she might be instructed by her coach to coast for a round. Let’s listen in.”
Scott: “That was was exactly what I wanted from you, Tanille. Great round, one of your best ever.”
Tanille: “I knocked her mouthpiece out at the end…I’ve never done that before.”
Scott: “What do you want to do next round, go for it, or wait it out?”
Scott: “You are in that ring, do you think that girl is ready to go, or not?”
Tanille leans around her coach to get a look at Emma’s corner.
Tanille: “I think she’s hurt. I want to go for the finish.”
Scott: “I agree. I want you to go for the knockout this round, throw everything you have at it. Punches in combination, and if you get her backing up, pursue her and keep punching until the referee stops you. I want this fight to be over this round, understand.”
Tanille thinks: I want one for my highlight reel.
Tanille: “I’ll go for it.”
Laila Ali: “Well there you have it, confidence in the red corner as they believe that Emma McGale is vulnerable. But boxing history is full of times when a fighter went for it and got caught. We’ll see if Emma McGale can survive the storm from Tanille Taylor, and maybe find an opening back into the fight.”
I sat heavily on the stool as I suck down deep breaths, trying to get my bearings back after absorbing a beating in the last part of the 2nd round.
Thomas went to take out my mouthpiece before realizing that it had been forcibly displaced by Tanille. The referee came by and gave it to Thomas, clearly giving me a good look to see if I am okay to continue. I tried my best to look capable. After the referee departed, Thomas gave me a drink and starts washing the mouthpiece.
Thomas looked at me with concern written all over his face, “Are you hurt or buzzed?”
Right to the point. ‘Buzzed’ is what we call temporarily being ‘fuzzy.’ Someone might call it being slightly stunned. But you recover from being buzzed pretty quickly. Hurt is different. Hurt is alarm bells ringing, blurred vision, loss of equilibrium. Hurt is what you are before you are knocked out.
Hurt is what I am right now.
“Just buzzed,” I lied. “I got hit with everything, she hit me from everywhere.”
Thomas took a good look at me, I can’t tell if he knows that I am lying to him. “Do you want me to stop it?”
It would be the easy way out. Just say the word and I don’t have to go back out there, I can just sit on this stool and let it all be over. But…I can’t. I’d hate myself for it. I can’t quit. This is my role here, to test the prospect and if she is as good as advertised, to go out on my shield to mark her progression to ‘legitimate prospect.’
“I’m good for more.”
Thomas goes into a spiel about strategy as if there is something that I could do to turn this fight around. I nod along but the words go in one ear and out the other. Something about staying in close and tying Tanille up, using my strength inside. Good ideas, but I’m not in any shape to be able to execute them. That first round seems like centuries ago.
The referee yelled, “Seconds out!” Damn, this break was too short.
“You’re good?” asked Thomas.
“Yeah.” There’s nothing else to say,
Thomas puts a good helping of Vaseline on my face, and gives me back my mouthpiece. I stand from my stool, and note that my legs are still weak. My vision is a bit better, but I know that I barely recovered during the break. In boxing parlance I am ‘ready to go’ a good punch by Tanille and I’ll be down and done. And I’ve seen enough from Tanille that I know she is capable of it. But I have no fear of it. I will take the 1% chance that I have in turning this fight around, even if it means that I get knocked out. That’s heart. That’s the fighter I want to be. That’s who I am. Win or lose, I am Emma McGale.