Camp Empress

Four national champions train help Hee Jung

A few weeks before the announcement of the fight, we find The Empress and her coach Darius, discussing their next defence of the IBF Featherweight title.

Empress: “So. What’s next. I don’t need a long layoff and I’m not getting any younger.”

Darius: “Now we tame the Cobra.”

Empress: “Good, I might have fired you if you said that I should fight someone else.”

Darius: “It’s time. We’ve had preliminary discussions with their team. They want the fight in North America, and they want 3 minute rounds.”

Empress: “Sure, that’s fine for me.”

The other details

Darius: “We won’t be giving them 3 minute rounds.”

Empress: “I am personally for 3 minute rounds. Women’s boxing never should have had shorter rounds to begin with.”

Darius: “It is highly sexist. However, 3 minute rounds favours a younger fighter, especially one that is a puncher.”

Empress: “Okay, fine, whatever. Next, though I don’t care that much about what I earn.”

Darius: “You are getting a 75%-25% cut of the purse. Main event. On DAZN. It’ll be a lucrative night.”

Empress: “It’s good to be the champ.”

Counter-programming the Cobra

Darius: “And we’ll keep you that way. The thing about this MacVicar girl is she’s got some elite talents. Elite punching power that is able to stagger people in higher weight classes. She is a hard, hard puncher. But she’s a bit naïve. She hasn’t been in that many tough fights. And she’s clearly got a durability problem. She can be hurt and she can be dropped and put away. She’s also not had that much time to recover since getting knocked out by Alesia Schumann.”

Empress: “I don’t expect her confidence would have taken a knock though.”

Darius: “No. But I’m sure I know the path to beating her. It sounds counter intuitive, because usually with a puncher you want to be patient and counter, but it’s a risk when facing someone like her. Not only is she a creative attacker, if she gets through with a good shot, you aren’t going to get the chance to counter.”

Empress: “I’m not that easy to hit.”

Darius: “No. But why take the risk? Not when there is a better strategy.”

Empress: “What are you, playing to the crowd? Just tell me.”

Darius: “We take the fight to her. Everyone that beats Virani takes the fight to her at some point. That’s the best way to go after her. Yes, she can hit, but she’s also fragile. Hit her, take away her confidence, make her afraid to hit back – that’s your path to victory.”

Empress: “That’s not what I was expecting. It’s not what I usually do against fighters of her level.”

Darius: “That’s why she won’t expect it. Once you take her out of her game – she won’t have a plan ‘B.’ Hurt her, drop her, and then finish her. I truly think that you can do it.”

Empress: “Okay. I trust you. I’ll put in the work. We better bring in some good punchers to spar with, though. I’ll need to be sharp.”

Darius: “Way ahead of you.”

Camp Empress

The Empress holds a training camp with her coach in the foothills of California. There’s a rotation of fighters coming in and out of camp, but the main sparring partners are a trio of domestic champions – Mechelle Gauthier, Carla Flores and Michaela Sommer. The highly rated Sommer is the best ranked of the trio, but the four women make a good team for preparing for Virani.

‘The Pretty Warrior’ Mechelle Gauthier is the lowest level of the three champions. Although she is a champion in her own right, she’s never been in the ring with someone like Hee Jung and it shows.

The South Korean world champion shows her class by demonstrating that she is several levels above the Canadian champion. While Mechelle tries hard, she is outgunned. It’s a tough training camp for Mechelle, but she never complains, and gives Hee Jung quality rounds to keep her sharp.


The next of Hee Jung’s training partners is the champion of Mexico, Carla Flores. Though she’s come up short in some of her biggest fights, the cute Mexican fights in a very similar manner to Virani, and gives Hee Jung some very intense sparring rounds.

Specifically, the Empress works on turning defence quickly into attack, and how to fight between the lulls of the puncher’s output, something she wants to do against Virani. Though Carla works hard against the Empress, there is no question in the end if this had been an actual fight, who would win.


The German champ

The highest profile fighter is yet another champion, one whose career seems to be on an upward swing. Hee Jung’s camp paid a pretty penny to get the Featherweight champion of Germany, Michaela Sommer, into camp.

Though Michaela and Virani are very different fighters, Michaela being short, squat and powerfully built, with Virani having a more classically athletic figure, there’s no question that Michaela has the quality to hang with the Korean champion.

Michaela gives Hee Jung by far the most challenging rounds, and the Empress rues every mistake that she makes against the German puncher. But the adjustments that Hee Jung is able to make to her game pay dividends, being pushed to the limits will tend to do that.

Hee Jung thinks: This Michaela girl is not bad at all. Will have to keep on eye on her.


Playful pic

At the end of camp, the four ladies gather for a group photo, having enjoyed the camaraderie of preparing for a world championship fight together.


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Camp Cobra
Hee Jung Park
South Korean who is a legendary champion in multiple weight classes. She fights to secure her legacy in the sport.
Hee Jung Park
Virani MacVicar
Current Featherweight champion. A Canadian puncher known for her knockouts that has developed a more all-round style.
Virani MacVicar

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  1. Well I’ll keep this short since I have to head out in a minute lol

    This was a good training camp, the empress chose smart opponents that have similar styles to V, and the fact that they faced V as well. Except for Mechelle.

    Also I think two minute rounds would be good for both Virani and Hee Jung, V probably ain’t ready for long rounds yet as we saw in her last fight but this can go anyway for both fighters.
    Though I have to admit it would have been if it was 3 minutes, it means more action.

    But I will say that Hee Jung coach really sounds like he knows what he’s doing, he has things planned out for the Empress to beating Virani, but I don’t think Viranis confidence was shattered after her last fight though so he shouldn’t underestimate her.

    Also all the ladies here are looking lovely, they are definitely a big help for the Empress. Now I’m just hoping V has as much as a good training camp like this, I hope she is getting super prepared and has some good training partners for this.

    I’m curious see how she’s getting ready 🙂

    • That wasn’t that short a response 😀

      Hee Jung’s a pro – she’s got things set up the way she likes. She brought in a good mix of fighters too.

      Darius, Hee Jung’s coach, is a good one. A real thinker. He’s an asset to have in the corner.

      Virani’s training will be the next post!

  2. Some people dress to impress. Hee Jung trains to Empress ?

    That training camp is very much what a world champion wants to have. You bring in boxers whose level is high without being actual threats to your ability to prepare for the fight. They’re solid although a level below you.

    However, based on the action with Michaela, it might only be a matter of time before the German champ makes it to the elite herself.

    The choice of two-minute rounds might be the one that could cause the most debate if Hee Jung doesn’t get her way at the end of the fight. Darius is right that having three full minutes can give a puncher an advantage. However, there is also the school of thought that longer rounds favour the better boxer overall. Hee Jung would have a case if she said she were the best Featherweight.

    Since boxing isn’t an exact science, though, we can’t be 100% sure ahead of time.

    The three visitors are also very likely to benefit from this experience. Working with Hee Jung.

    Since I’m superficial: best outfit? I say that Mechelle rocks the shiny green ?

    • That pun. Groan!

      The training camp is by the books from Hee Jung – get a bunch of good fighters and maybe one that is just a level below you to provide the stiffest test. Mechelle and Carla are decent fighters, but quite a few levels below Hee Jung’s level.

      The choice of two minute round is an interesting one. Darius probably correctly identifies that most of Virani’s path to victory involves winning by stoppage. Solution – give less time for the champion to be stopped in! I do agree that 3 rounds might give more time for the Empress to dominate, so its a bit of a double edged sword as well.

      Everyone from the camp should probably see a benefit. Michaela, having fared the best out of the sparring partners probably gets the most boost, and even some acknowledgement from the Empress, that the German champion is not far off the top level.

      Best outfit? I’d probably agree with Mechelle. That girl if nothing else is a stylish Canadian champion. But I also really like that colour on Michaela as well. I think she looks the part!

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