Round 9. Officially, these are the championship rounds. Unofficially, both fighters would love to just shake hands and call it a day. Unfortunately, there’s this thing called ‘pride’ and ‘The Canadian Featherweight championship’ preventing that.
The round starts out fairly cagey. Neither fighter wants to waste the energy, or make the fatal mistake. Both fighters know how close this fight is, know what the cost of one mistake might be.
It’s Emma who feels the need to attack first. She’s the one feeling the pressure, she’s the one that feels like a decision may not go her way. She throws a left hook and then follows up with a right. The Pretty Warrior ducks both in a great display of defensive boxing. But as she dodges the second one, she puts all her weight on her left foot in order to prepare to throw her left.
Chantal: “Elusiveness, thy name is Mechelle Gauthier. Blocking punches with your face might be appropriate for a Rocky film, but The Pretty Warrior would like to keep her nickname.”
Now or Never
Sylvie thinks: Now or never, kid.
Mechelle launches forward, transferring all her weight into the big left hand that she throws. Emma mistakenly tries to stand her ground and hit the ducking Mechelle with an uppercut. It never gets to its intended target.
Chantal: “Massive shot from Gauthier! She caught Emma flush with a brilliant shot!”
Sylvie thinks: Am I a great coach, or am I a great coach?
Emma staggers backwards from that massive shot, almost becoming entangled with the ropes as she uses anything she can to stay upright. The Peach’s legs are gone, and she is seeing stars. But she’s not done yet, as she quickly extracts herself from the ropes before the ref… or Mechelle can intervene.
Chantal: McGale is staggered! The crowd rises to their feet as the finish might come shortly!
Mechelle thinks: This is it. I let you off the hook last time. This time you won’t be so lucky.
Thomas: “Tie her up, Emma!”
Emma tries to do so, but she finds that grabbing on to Mechelle is much harder when badly disorientated. Mechelle bullies Emma into the corner, reveling in the fact that the tables are turned and now she is the one that is dominant in close quarters. Emma valiantly tries to fight back, but she has no answer for Mechelle’s current strength. Mechelle bullies her, and then creates the space for the uppercut.
Mechelle’s uppercut comes through like a powerful piston. It lands right underneath Emma’s chin. A more perfect spot could not have been calculated.
Chantal: “A massive, massive uppercut from Gauthier! McGale was already hurt, but this one was a haymaker of a different level.”
It’s pretty obvious what is going to happen next after that punch. Emma collapses to the canvas, her body draped over the bottom rope as her legs splay out. Mechelle stands overtop of her rival, taking one moment to appreciate what her fists did to her opponent. It’s the sight that any boxer dreams about, the sight that they envision when they think about an upcoming fight late at night. The sight of a defeated rival that must bow to your superiority.
Chantal: “Emma McGale is down hard! She took an absolute howitzer from Gauthier, and I do not see that there is a way back for her. We will wait for the ref’s pronouncement, but I believe we have a new champion!”
Mechelle thinks: This is a pretty sight. The prettiest of my life, I think.
Referee Victoria James is on hand quickly to point Mechelle to the neutral corner. Mechelle doesn’t need much prompting. She had her moment, now it’s time for the officials to do their job.
Victoria: “To your corner, madame!”
Emma’s head lolls around, as she struggles to keep conscious after taking such punishment. She’s winning that fight, but barely.
Victoria thinks: I’m 99% sure that this one is over, but unless Emma is in need of medical attention, I’ll give her a count. A warrior like her deserves that much.
Emma thinks: Ungh. It feels like my body is disconnected from my brain.
Emma struggles to get her body to respond to her commands as she tries desperately to get to her feet. Emma’s body isn’t quite as willing as he brain and although she manages to get her head back through the ropes, she’s not exactly making much progress as the count has reached the halfway point.
Victoria thinks: This girl ain’t making the count. And if she did, I’d have to be insane to let the fight continue. So why am I counting? Because I like the tradition, and if Emma can make it to her feet, she deserves to show that she still had fight left.
Chantal: “McGale is struggling, that much is clear. But all the struggle is showing is that Mechelle Gauthier’s punch has knocked her senseless.”
Emma tries to get up, she really does. But there’s no chance that her battered, bruised body can do it. She’s just not strong enough. Mechelle’s strength has beaten the fight out of her.
The Peach has had enough. She leans back against the ring post, accepting the small amount of support that it can give her.
Emma thinks: I’ve given it everything. I have nothing left.
Victoria: “8…9…10! She’s OUT!”
Mechelle runs and thrusts her arms in the air. Her dream is complete. She is the Featherweight champion of Canada.
Chantal: “We have a new champion and her name is Mechelle Gauthier! She has won with a decisive knockout of Emma McGale here in the ninth round. Now our attention turns to Emma McGale who we hope is okay after a hellacious knockout.”
Victoria: “Stay down kid, I’ve got you.”
The referee gently takes out Emma’s mouthpiece and gives her a reassuring pat on the shoulder.
Emma: “I’m okay. Just…beaten. Give me a minute.”
The experienced referee is quickly joined by Thomas and the ring doctor, with the latter examining Emma intently. Emma’s answers are quick and to the doctor’s satisfaction. She never lost consciousness after that uppercut, she’s just exhausted. Out of strength.
Emma is assisted on to the stool (actually provided by Sylvie, as Thomas forgot to carry his over). Emma’s legs are shaky, but the more time passes, the more Emma seems to recover.
Emma thinks: So this is what it feels like to lose a title fight. I got to tell you, I thought it would feel worse.
Emma is on her feet for the official result. Thomas offers to assist her to the back, but The Peach wants to be in the ring for this. Part of it is she wants to see the title presented to have some additional motivation for next time, and there will be a next time, she promises. Part of it is that she wants to show respect to a fighter that was better than her today. Maybe it was just today, but Mechelle won fair and square.
Ring Announcer: “Ladies and Gentleman, referee Victoria James has called an end to this contest at 52 seconds of the 9th round. Your winner by KNOCKOUT and….NEW CANADIAN FEATHERWEIGHT CHAMPION, Mechelle ‘The Pretty Warrior’ Gauthier!”
Victoria: “Congrats, champ.”
Mechelle thinks: This is it. This is the peak of my career. This is what all the work in the gym was for. It’s what all the punches I took was for. I did it. Best Featherweight in Canada. No one can ever take that away from me. This moment will be mine forever.
As soon as the official particulars are done, Virani MacVicar beckons Mechelle over to her so that they can do the interview for Fight TV. But Mechelle shakes her off for a moment and goes to Emma.
Emma: “Congratulations, Mechelle. You deserved that win.”
Mechelle: “Thank you. I feel like your fists have dented my skull. That was a great fight.”
Emma: “It was, wasn’t it? Shame about the result, but the fight was good.”
Mechelle: “I’m glad you are okay. I put everything I had into that last punch. Anything less than that, and you would have gotten up.”
Emma: “The count could have been to 100, and I wouldn’t have gotten up from that uppercut. Can I ask you a question?”
Emma: “At the end of the 7th, how hurt were you?”
Mechelle: “I was done. I couldn’t keep my gloves up. One more punch and I think I would have collapsed.”
Mechelle: “Too much honesty?”
Emma: “Maybe. Well, something to aspire to in the rematch.”
Mechelle: “I look forward to our rematch. I’m going to knock you out again, of course. But it’ll be fun.”
Emma thinks: It’ll be fun to share the ring with you again. But I’m going to avenge my loss. That pretty little title will be mine. Not as soon as I had hoped, but one day.
Having had her moment with Emma, Mechelle makes her way over to the previous champion, who will interview her for Fight TV.
Virani: “Mechelle Gauthier, Featherweight champion of Canada. How good does that sound?”
Mechelle: “It’s better than my dreams. Words cannot describe how great this feeling is. And I mean, don’t I look good with this belt around my waist?”
Virani: “It’s a fantastic fashion accessory. But let us talk about the fight. Did it go the way you expected?”
Mechelle: “Um, I knew I was in for a tough fight. I didn’t think this was going to be an easy fight, and it certainly wasn’t. But I think I executed well on my strategy and my coach and I made some great strategy calls throughout the fight. I have to say, a knockout that big and decisive exceeded my wildest dreams.”
Virani: “You were clearly hurt at a couple points and even on the canvas in the 7th. Talk to us about fighting through adversity.”
Mechelle: “I mean, it was not easy. There were a few points that I thought I was done. Especially in the 7th. I remember looking up at Emma approaching me and thinking ‘well this is it.’ I made it through and came out on top in the end, but it could have easily gone the other way.”
Virani: “With a fight this close, the fans will probably want a rematch. Is that something you are interested in?”
Mechelle: “I think the fans might want me to take on another person currently in the ring.”
Virani thinks: I would demolish you, girl. You’d be lucky to last three rounds.
Virani: “As appealing as that idea is, I’ve had that belt. I’ve got my eye on something else.”
Mechelle thinks: If I really wanted the fight, this is the part where I’d call you a coward. But I’m not that stupid. I know my level.
Mechelle: “Well I’m going to be the type of champion that defends her title. Whenever Emma is the top contender again, I’ll be happy to fight her.”
Virani: “Any last words for your fans?”
Mechelle: “Montreal, thank you for your support! I promise I’ll bring more big fights here. I also want to thank Sylvie, the absolute best coach in Canada and maybe the world. I’ll defend this belt…well, until someone proves they are better than me! Merci!”
Though Virani is not scheduled to interview the loser of the match, there’s still time left on the broadcast, so Virani pulls a little audible and has Emma come over to her for an interview.
Virani: “Montreal, please give a hand to a determined challenger, Emma McGale.”
The audience in Montreal gives Emma a warm response, and she waves to the crowd, acknowledging their support.
Virani: “First of all, Emma, how are you feeling?”
Emma: “You know, for someone who got almost knocked out in the third round and was knocked out in the ninth, I don’t have any complaints. I’m not sure I’ll be able to move tomorrow morning, but that’s a tomorrow problem.”
Virani: “We’ll I’ll be there to help you tomorrow. Any thoughts on the fight?”
Emma: “The better fighter won. She knocked me down and I couldn’t get up after a ten count. That’s how you win a boxing match. But seriously, Mechelle showed some really nice skills and I think I’m going to see those red gloves in my dreams tonight. She was accurate, she showed good defence and when she had her chances, she took them. I think we can all be proud of a champion like that.”
Virani: “Mechelle just said that she’s interested in a rematch, is that something you are looking for?”
Emma: “I still want her title. I want it more now than I did yesterday. But there’s other fighters that are probably more deserving of a shot at the title than me, so I’ll wait my turn. I’ve got to get back in the gym and improve.”
Virani: “Well thank you for your time, and we hope to see you on Fight TV again! Chantal, back to you.”
Once it’s confirmed she’s not on air anymore, Virani hugs Emma.
Virani: “We should talk.”
Emma: “Not now. Right now, I just want to get home.”