In the aftermath of a controversial decision, Virani dutifully submits to getting her gloves removed by Thomas, while she watches the animated discussion taking place between Axel Plessner and Monique Deschamps.
Axel: “Are you blind or bought! How can you stop the fight after she beat the count.”
Monique: “It was my decision monsieur. It is my job to ensure that the fighters are protected and I did my job.”
Axel: “Where was this concern when that Virani girl was getting battered across the ring! Michaela went down once, and not even that hard! This is an outrage!”
Monique: “Take it up with the Federation. I have made my decision.”
Axel throws his hands up in disgust, muttering in German as Michaela looks around forlornly. Queen Kong had been so close to recording a signature victory and still cannot process that the fight is over.
As the chaos in the ring continues, Michaela Sommer sits down in the ring as sort of a silent protest. She’s crushed by the result, and hurt more than any punch could have. Alesia Schumann, never one to shy away from going where she feels she is needed, sneaks into the ring to comfort her fellow German champion.
Alesia: “Hey there. How are you doing?”
Michaela: “I don’t understand. I was winning. I made one mistake and got knocked down. Now it’s over? It’s not fair.”
Alesia: “That was a quick stoppage, I agree. Virani herself seemed surprised. You know how it is. Almost impossible to change a ref’s decision. Tell you what, though. If you swallow this frog, we’ll make it up to you. Fights against interesting opponents. We’ll make sure you get better refs, and good purses.”
Alesia: “Look at me. I’ll talk to Heidi. I can move the needle for you. Heidi is in the building and she’s seen the same thing I did. She’ll agree.”
She gives Queen Kong a comforting touch.
Alesia: “Trust me. Now let’s get up.”
After helping Michaela to her feet, Alesia takes the opportunity to sneak across the ring and get in a quick conversation with her friend Virani.
Alesia: “Congrats, Cobra. Big win, though Michaela left her mark on you.”
Virani: “Do all of you Germans hit so hard, or is it just the champions?” Virani laughs. “Thank you though, this was a tough fight. Michaela’s really good.”
Alesia: “We have well-schooled fighters here. It’s like our roads. We like the impact of what we build to be durable. But hey, listen. If anyone asks, I can’t lie about this being stoppage being a little early. The knockdowns were almost the same.”
Virani: “I know. I was a little surprised myself. Maybe the universe owed me after the Kayleigh fight.”
Alesia thinks: The German crowd likes Virani. If we ever need a big co-main event, maybe we can coax her over here.
Virani thinks: There’s always something special about standing in the same ring as Ally, even when we are just congratulating each other after wins.
The ring clears as the commotion is mostly over. There’s grumblings of an official protest, but that’s something that will happen behind closed doors. Besides, there’s the usual things to get to, such as the winner getting her arm raised.
Ring Announcer: “Ladies and Gentleman, referee Monique Deschamps has stopped the fight at 25 seconds of the 6th round, declaring your winner by Knockout, Virani MacVicar!”
The crowd whistles at the mention of Monique Deschamps, but the crowd does applaud Virani as the victor. You get the sense from the crowd that there’s no ire directed at the victor, but there is plenty of ire towards the Frenchwoman.
Virani gets her arm raised by Monique as Michaela looks on, not wanting to participate in the ritual that declares her opponent the victor. The Canadian doesn’t care, as she claims her 6th victory in her last 7 fights and moves her record to 10 wins, 3 losses and 1 draw.
After Monique leaves the ring, Michaela drifts towards Virani. The two embrace for a moment.
Virani: “Hey… I think that was a bad stoppage. It’s not the way I wanted to win. Thank you for the tough fight.”
Michaela: “You dropped me fair and square… that lead uppercut was spicy. But I deserved a chance to come back, like the one you got. I hope you’ll offer me an immediate rematch.”
Virani thinks: There’s no way in hell I want to fight this girl again. Nothing to gain and everything to lose.
Virani: “That’s for the promoters to figure out. But I think you proved here that you can compete with anyone in the division. I’m sure we’ll meet in the ring again.”
Virani and Michaela both think: And if that happens, I’ll knock you out.
Michaela: “You were a classy opponent, Virani. Thank you for accepting the fight and coming to Germany to fight, I know you didn’t have to.”
Virani: “Thanks for giving me some natural eye liner! I thought I was the hardest puncher in the division, but it’s you, without a doubt. If you ever have trouble getting a fight, give me a call and I can see if I can pull some strings for you.”
Michaela thinks: That’s nice, but you don’t want to give me a rematch. I know you are playing the political game, but it doesn’t hurt for me to play nice, I suppose.
Michaela: “Thank you, that’s generous of you. I think it’s time for the interviews though.”
Virani gets to experience the joy of yet another interview with Laila Ali. It’s almost becoming commonplace at this point!
Laila: “Good to see you again, Ms. MacVicar. Let’s talk about the finish to this one, how did you see it from your perspective?”
Virani: “Well, I thought there was a chance that Michaela might have been a bit winded after throwing so many punches in the last round, so I took a risk right off the start, and just threw everything into a lead uppercut and followed up as best I could. I was hoping that Michaela would stay down, but she’s a champion and she got up. I was getting ready for the fight to resume, but the referee saw something that she didn’t like and stopped the fight.”
Laila: “Round 3 saw you hit the canvas, and you seemed to struggle at times with Michaela. How tough was it in there with ‘Queen Kong?'”
Virani: “Well she nearly punched my lights out in the 3rd, and every punch she landed felt like a hammer blow. She’s not just a big puncher though, she’s got real skill. I think she’s a threat for anyone in the division.”
Laila: “You came into hostile territory here and came away with a win. How different is it being the ‘road’ fighter?”
Virani: “You know, I didn’t really feel like the crowd was against me at all. I think I have my fans here and I didn’t sense any negativity directed towards me. So to the crowd I say Danke and perhaps I’ll be back if the right opponent is available.”
Laila: “Tell me what this victory means for you.”
Virani: “Well, I’m on a great run right now, I’m winning fights, and while I still think I’m a bit inconsistent, I’m showing that I can handle myself against top talents. I know ‘The Empress’ turned me down for a fight, but you know…maybe she was a bit afraid of the Cobra. No matter what though – I’m coming for that big shiny belt. I won’t stop until I win it.”
Laila: “Well, we look forward to seeing you in the ring again. Virani MacVicar everyone!”
The crowd applauds politely as, Virani acknowledges the crowd with a wave.
Before the interview with Michaela can begin, the crowd acknowledges the German fighter with an ovation, which she acknowledges with a wave.
Laila: “I’m here with Michaela Sommer. Michaela, I think it’s pretty clear that you were very unhappy with the result here. Tell us what happened in the 6th round.”
Michaela: “I was a bit tired coming into the round, I admit and Virani caught me by surprise with an uppercut. Great punch, had me seeing stars. She put me down with a left, but I never lost consciousness or anything. Was I hurt at the time? Absolutely. But by the time I was on my feet, I was ready to finish the round. I deserved the chance to fight on. That’s why I haven’t taken off my gloves. I feel like if I take off these gloves, I accept the result of the fight, and I cannot. I don’t believe I lost tonight. The win was given to my opponent.”
Laila: “I understand the frustration with the stoppage, but surely you must have some sympathy for referee Monique Deschamps, who has a very difficult and thankless job.”
Michaela: “I get that the referee is in a precarious situation. But this wasn’t a fight between a prospect and a journeywoman. This was a fight between ranked fighters trying to get to the top. I understand wanting to protect a fighter, but she could have restarted the fight, and if I couldn’t protect myself then, I would accept the decision. But I wasn’t given a chance to do so. And that is what is going to keep me up at night.”
Michaela sighs, wondering if she should say the next part. She forges ahead.
Michaela: “And let’s be honest, Laila. If this was a men’s match, there’s no way the referee would have stopped the fight.”
Laila: “Can you expand on that?”
Michaela: “There’s a reason why women’s matches are 2 minute rounds, and why stoppages like this are more common in female fights. It’s an implicit bias that women are “to be protected.” But I’m a fighter. I signed up to fight. I know the risks. I know that every fight I take could be my last. I know that just like Veronica Lillegard, I could leave the ring on a stretcher with a head injury. I just want more leniency from referees. Protect me if I need it, but I’m not a delicate flower that needs protecting.”
Laila: “Strong words. How do you go on from here.”
Michaela: “Well, I’ll serve whatever medical suspension I get, but then I’m back in the ring, and I’m going to punch my way to the top. I floored one of the best fighters in the division and I had her ready to go, I just ran out of time before I could finish her. I learned that lesson and now I’m determined to knock out anyone who stands in my way of being world champion.”
Laila: “What about an immediate rematch with Virani? Does that appeal to you?”
Michaela thinks: Two ways to play it. Accuse Virani or not wanting the rematch and burn that bridge, or play it nice and hope public pressure makes the rematch inevitable.
Michaela: “I think the fans want to see Sommer-MacVicar II. We just have to make it at a time when it makes sense for both of us.”
Laila: “Well, thank you for a fine performance tonight, and we look forward to seeing you in the future.”