Zohana defends her world title with a fantastic knockout
It’s fight time! Zohana Patel and Takara Oshima take to the ring at the Copper Box Arena in London for a Lightweight world championship fight.
The usual suspects are at the helm. Esther Schouten and Anna Schwartz are broadcasting for Box TV, which has gone free-to-air across Europe to gather large audiences monetised by ads. Veronica handles introductions, as she always does for big events. Rebecca Linden is the referee.
We join the action in Round 1. It’s a match between two diametrically opposed boxers. Zohana moves her feet well, shuffles her hands and dances around the challenger. She’s the freestyling, creative boxer who gives a stylish show to the fans. Takara is a dynamic puncher with power in both hands. Always a threat if she can put her knuckles in your face.
The world champion stays low while Takara throws head shots.
Zohana thinks: “This girl’s good, but also a headhunter.”
The Indian woman does Zohana things, tailoring her strategy to the opponent. She stays low and looks to work around the Japanese fighter, so she can avoid head-twisting punches and hit hard on the counter.
With already more than a minute gone, Takara tries to uncork a threatening left hook as the world champion is elusive. Zohana simply lowers her weight from a distance and unleashes a straight right to catch the ribs.
Esther: “Patel has a sharp start. She’s moving around the ring with ease and landing clean when throwing. What do you make of it, Anna?”
Anna: “I say that there is a differential in speed, intelligence and creativity between the two women. Patel is very much the favourite here, and for obvious reasons. I’m not sure that Oshima has what it takes to beat her.”
Late into the round, the challenger ramps up the aggression. She has The Dementor near the ropes, and wants to land something solid to make a statement. She throws a descending right hand to catch the low-lying champion. Zohana takes a step to the left and uses the attacker’s body for leverage to move out of the way.
Zohana: “You didn’t think you’d hit me with that, did you?”
Sophie: “What a move. Done against one of the most dangerous punchers in the division. Embarrassing for Takara.”
Alesia: “Zohana is the master.”
Zohana’s creative movement carries into the second round. She stays in a low stance and makes herself very difficult to find. Takara takes good swings at her, but very little leather finds the world champion.
When the challenger believes she got the Indian lined up for a powerful left hook, Zohana takes half a step backwards to the right and comes back with a left hook that catches both the ribs and liver.
Esther: “Isn’t it impressive when a boxer can move this well and produce magic just the way Patel does? It’s like she’s pushing the limits of creativity with boxing gloves on.”
Anna: “The Zohana who held back in an exhibition against Alesia Schumann is not holding back today. She fights with style, at full force, and she is taking the body. The most interesting part? She’s enjoying herself. That’s bad news for any opponent, because her brand of fun is brutal.”
The Japanese woman is scolded by her coach Clifford Little between engagements. She comes out firing in Round 3 to try and overturn a two-point deficit.
Zohana spends the round under pressure, but she reacts cleverly to preserve energy and avoid getting hit clean. She leans away from the punches, rolls with them, and taps on the incoming arm whenever possible to minimise the amount of violence received.
The price of freedom
After a talk that’s more motivational than anything else with her coach, Zohana switches gears in Round 4. She goes for in and out explosion, staying out of range and driving inside with huge counterattacks whenever she’s confident she can land a clean shot.
Late in the round, taking the body remains her focus. Takara is backing up and throwing a straight right, and the champion steps forward with a short right hook to nail the solar plexus. The challenger grunts. This one really hurts. Luckily for her, there isn’t enough time left for the defending champ to go for the finish.
Esther: “What’s the difference between a Zohana Patel and an inside fighter such as Emma McGale?”
Anna: “When it comes to body work, they are exact opposites. McGale will invade your space and choke you. She holds you. Unable to move, you are bound to feel the pain given by her punches.”
Anna: “Patel does things in reverse. She gives you the freedom to throw your punches, and gives herself the space to calculate your movement. When she has your timing nailed down, she comes in and puts all her weight behind and under the punch. It’s a high-risk game for more explosive shots, but she can afford it. Have you seen anyone else who can move the way she does?”
We have a peculiar moment right before Round 5 starts, once the fighters got up from their stools. With her trainer Parvati Tavade already out of the ring, Zohana gestures to the loudest section of her fans.
“Hey, you guys over there. Do I knock her out now?”
They respond with wild cheers.
Zohana: “Alright. Round 5 is good. Your wish is my command.”
The pound for pound queen isn’t gambling or posturing. She does this for a reason. Having worked mostly downstairs for the first four rounds, she already took Takara’s legs away. Opponents whose ability to move is diminished are more vulnerable to head punches, which can land clean and hurt.
Zohana goes upstairs in this round. She stands higher and keeps working around the number two contender. She gives herself a couple of minutes to land clean, crisp shots that make Takara’s head spin. With 45 seconds left, she rocks the challenger with a big left hook.
Esther: “Oshima is hurt!”
A wobbly Takara takes a few steps back to clear the head, but the world champion doesn’t give her the luxury of having time off.
We witness the most devastating moment as Takara is struggling for balance while stepping back. Zohana steps forward aggressively while unloading a most vicious straight right. The red glove zooms in and crashes in Zohana’s face. PISH! The gloved fist continues its motion as the other woman’s head is snapped back.
A big “OH!” emerges from the audience.
Esther: “What a spectacular right hand! Patel punches through her target with the most diabolical of intentions. And Oshima is on the canvas!”
Anna: “Punches don’t land cleaner than that, and I think it’s game over, folks.”
Mind the gap
Zohana grins as Takara falls flat on her back. Within a second, she’s unconscious.
The world champion goes to a neutral corner as Rebecca rushes to the scene. The official made her mind as soon as the punch connected.
Esther: “We may have witnessed the knockout of the year! Zohana Patel has no problem defending the Lightweight title, and the unofficial title of pound for pound best, with a smashing performance that left Takara Oshima motionless on the canvas.”
Anna: “As stunning as it may be to some boxing fans, there is sometimes a gap between the champion and even the closest contenders. In a sport like tennis, it’s a win in straight sets. In boxing, it means a trip to the hospital.”
The ring doctor, Takara’s coach and paramedics get to the defeated fighter before the result is made official. Takara is sent to hospital for a check-up after waking up from this brutal KO.
Veronica: “Your winner by knockout at 0:39 in Round 5. And STILL Lightweight champion of the world…. Zohana ‘The Dementor’ Paaaaattttttelllllllll!”
Zohana gets to the edge of the ring to celebrate a triumphant win, saluting her fans with pride.
Don’t mess with the queen
It’s time for the post-match interview.
Esther: “Congrats on a very successful title defense. What’s on your mind right now?”
Zohana: “Takara is typical of chicks who talk tough but can’t deliver. She’s not the first undefeated that I send packing. Tonight’s a warning to anyone who wants to mess with me.”
Esther: “Don’t you think it’s a little rough to say that about a woman who is on her way to hospital?”
Zohana: “Who talked about a violent revolution in the pre-match? I took it seriously. Look. I’m not the one who launches the first salvo. If you threaten me, though, I will take action. It is what it is.”
Esther: “Fair enough. How do you explain the course of this match? We expected Oshima to be more of a threat.”
Zohana: “She’s really good, but she’s a headhunter. Undefeated punchers who score knockouts with head shots all the time tend to become overconfident in their ability to take anyone down. They don’t react well when someone can deal with their power game and hit them. She thought she would bulldoze me but I didn’t let her do it. I took the body and she had no Plan B.”
Esther: “Is any specific opponent on your mind for the future?”
Zohana: “Don’t know yet, but I have options at Lightweight and Super Lightweight. I think I’m still the best boxer in the world, and I can take on anyone as long as the money is right. I’m 36 and won’t be around forever, so money is a big factor at this point.”
Esther: “Thank you. What do you think, Anna? I believe that Patel is right about still being the best fighter.”
Anna: “It’s hard to contest after this devastating knockout against an impressive challenger. For the time being, we just hope that Oshima will be okay.”
Esther: “It may be hard to recuperate from that in sporting terms.”
Anna: “It’s rare that a boxer can come back to the top after getting stopped in this fashion. Scores of fighters hit the comeback trail and won tune-up matches, but they couldn’t overcome the fear spawned by a brutal knockout. This emotion comes to the surface when they have a first difficult opponent. We’ll have to see if Oshima chooses to continue, and whether she can handle the dread of a repeat.”
Esther: “Thank you. This concludes our broadcast from London. So long, everybody!”