In Close Quarters
The two fighters stare across the ring at each other, both confident of victory and looking forward to the battle come to come.
Steffi rushes to control the middle of the ring, while Virani takes the patient approach, keeping her hands loose and circling around the American. Virani throws a few jabs, judging Steffi’s reactions. Virani’s jabs catch gloves or scrape Steffi’s face.
Virani thinks: Well, she doesn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary.
The opening act of the fight doesn’t have much action, which seems to suit both fighters. Roughly thirty seconds into the round, Steffi throws a looping right hook that Virani avoids. However Steffi uses her right hand to pull downwards on Virani bringing her body towards her and putting her off balance. As Virani’s right hand flails to maintain her balance, Steffi drives a short left hook into Virani’s jaw.
The Canadian Cobra extracts herself from Steffi’s grip and shoots a quick look at Kanti, who does nothing to intervene.
Laila: “The Lady in Gray goes into the bag of veteran tricks early in this one, using a ‘missed’ right hand to generously adjust the posture of MacVicar, who complains that Slater is not a registered Erganomist. Yes, I just made that name up. Virani seems more annoyed than hurt by the punch, but Virani will have to note that Kanti Agrawal is unlikely to intervene unless the foul is particularly egregious.”
The Canadian Cobra is too canny at this point in her career to get mad at Steffi or the ref so early in the fight. Especially as she has the chance to throw leather at the person she is currently upset with. Steffi isn’t the trickiest fighter, and Virani wants to keep her distance from Steffi, knowing that whatever tricks Steffi wants to play, she needs to be a bit closer.
About halfway through the round, Virani makes a solid connection with Steffi, landing a straight jab that connects flush with Steffi’s jaw, while Steffi’s overhand counter falls hopelessly short.
Virani thinks: I don’t mind fighting at this range since it seems like you don’t want to fight at this range.
Laila: “MacVicar connects with a straight jab that will catch Steffi’s attention. MacVicar’s jab isn’t as eye catching as her left hook, but she does throw a good one. The Lady in Gray will have to do better, or she’ll be black and blue by the end of the fight.”
A very cagey 1st round hasn’t produced much in the way of action. Virani has landed the better punches, but nothing much of note. Steffi seems to be okay with the slow pace, with the subtext being that she might want to drag Virani late into the fight.
But Virani MacVicar is nothing if not a bit mischievous, so as Steffi used a quasi-legal trick earlier in the round, Virani goes for one of her own. She throws a jab with her left hand, not with the intention to actually hurt Steffi, but to use it to pull down Steffi’s own arm…
With that task achieved, Virani shifts her weight on to her lead foot as she steps into a big right hand. Steffi can’t adjust her posture or get her guard back in place to prevent the red rocket of leather from landing right on her chin.
Virani thinks: You aren’t the only one that knows the dark arts of boxing, hag.
Laila Ali: “Virani pulls out a trick from the Deontay Wilder school of boxing, destroying Steffi’s guard and then destroying Steffi’s face with a slick right hand that will be an early test of her chin. This is an offensive evolution from Virani, who is learning that at the top level, you have to be crafty as well as powerful.”
Grey Girl Down
In the contest between the durable Steffi’s chin and Virani’s monstrous right hand, Virani’s right hand emerges victorious as Steffi staggers back and then falls. Virani stands confidently in place, staring down at the downed American.
Laila: “DOWN GOES SLATER! The famed durability of The Lady in Gray takes a hit early in this one as she is emphatically dropped by the Canadian Cobra. Is Virani MacVicar the Featherweight Deontay Wilder? Her power appears to be unlimited.”
Virani thinks: “Stay down. It’ll be easier if you stay down.”
You don’t win 22 fights without being a little tough, and though Steffi Slater may not have expected to take a flush right hand on the chin, there isn’t much question if the fight is actually over. It isn’t.
Kanti shoos Virani to the neutral corner before starting the count on Steffi. The Lady in Gray groans a bit, but by the count of 5, she is already on her knees and focusing on the referee’s count, intent on taking the full recovery time.
Steffi thinks: “Yup, that was a good punch. I’m not like those floozies you knocked out though.”
Virani thinks: “Well that would have been too easy I suppose. Stay calm, stay focused. She’s crafty. But I’ve shown my power can crack her.”
Steffi rises without a problem to her feet and walks to the neutral corner.
Kanti: “8. Are you okay, do you want to continue?”
Steffi: “Yes ma’am.”
Kanti thinks: She looks okay. No problem letting this one go on.
The Indian ref looks at Virani, who is lounging confidently in the neutral corner.
Kanti: “Ready? Box!”
Hunting the Finish?
As soon as Kanti restarts the match, we see a slightly different tenor to the match. Steffi stays away from Virani, denying her from stepping into range. The Canadian Cobra is a patient snake and instead of getting frustrated, she cuts off the ring and forces Steffi back and towards the ropes. With five seconds to go in the round, Virani manages to corral Steffi in the corner where she looks for an opening to put an exclamation mark on the first round.
Virani thinks: You are scared of my power. You are smarter than you look, Steffi!
Steffi thinks: Come here little snake.
Laila: “With only a few seconds left in the round, Steffi Slater seems to still be in a bit of trouble after that knockdown. Can the Canadian Cobra capitalize?”
As Admiral Ackbar once said – ‘It’s a trap!’ As soon as Virani lashes out with a right hand, Steffi swings into action, swaying to her left and activating her right hand, which has a clean path to Virani’s jaw. Black leather collides violently with Virani’s jaw.
Laila Ali: “Steffi Slater plays dead and then springs back to life as she shows Virani that this will not be that easy for her.”
Virani thinks: “Yeah that stung. I leaned into it, and her punch was short and direct. I’ll take my 10-8 round and run, thank you.”
Virani kills the last part of the round without much difficulty and takes a short walk back to her corner.
Virani: “This chick is annoying.”
Thomas: “She’s going to try to set traps for you everywhere. There’s two approaches to take here. One, you gradually try to decode her traps and avoid her mindgames.”
Virani: “And the other?”
Thomas: “Punch her in the face and see if she has the ability to set a trap with her face caved in.”
Virani: “Direct. I like it.”
Thomas: “That isn’t an invitation to be stupid, Virani. But making Steffi hurt is a big part of our plan here.”