Bridging the distance

The challenger evaluates herself before the round begins.

Virani thinks: I was hurt in that last round, but I think I’m back. Going to take it easy for a bit and ease my way back into this one. Can’t wait too long now, this is getting a bit dire.

The champion, still clearly a bit miffed after letting Virani off the hook last round, takes the initiative right off the top of the round, wanting to continue the lesson from the last round.

Unlike an amateur, Hee Jung doesn’t take risks, she doesn’t go for the one punch KO, she just gradually adds to the damage tally of her opponent. A straight jab to the guts isn’t going to win a fight on its own, but it still hurts. Especially as it is adding to a tally of body shots from the champion.

Laila: “Class is back in session after a one minute sabbatical. Professor Park is making sure her student pays for not having her homework done in time. MacVicar has yet to really show the dynamic offence that we’ve seen from her, mostly because the dynamic offence has come from the champion.

Virani thinks: At this rate, I’m not going to have any energy left for the sixth round, let alone the 10th round.

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But Virani, showing discipline and good fight IQ, mostly negates Hee Jung’s intense opening, often tying up her opponent when she gets into optimal punching range.

Gaining ground

Such scenarios even open up for the challenger to start using those nice sky blue gloves to actually do what they were designed to. As Hee Jung and Virani tussle, the Canadian takes a moment to use her free right hand to land a glancing blow to the side of the champion’s head. It’s not much. But it’s something.

Hee Jung thinks: I need a clinch and a break to get back to where I can work best.

Virani thinks: A little blue leather here…

Laila: “We talked in the open about how the physical game will favour MacVicar – and she’s showing some signs of using that advantage here in the fourth.”

Thomas: “That’s it! Work in close, make her uncomfortable!”

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Having found success, Virani is keen to continue working in slightly closer quarters. The stronger Canadian is able to create opportunities that haven’t been available to her so far in the fight. It creates the first time in the fight where The Empress feels under pressure and it prompts a rare mistake, which Virani takes advantage of, landing a particularly clever punch with :42 seconds to go in the round, using the momentum of her opponent against her instead of adding much of her own. It’s not a huge punch, but the Canadian is now landing.

Laila: “A comeback might be on the cards here, or at least the beginning of the start of a comeback looks possible for the Canadian Cobra, who is starting to find a home for those pretty gloves of hers – but those gloves conceal dynamite.”

Thomas: “Yes! Keep up the pressure V!”

Alesia: “Come on, Virani!”

Kayleigh: “Good job, she’s actually doing something for once. Wonders never cease.”

Alesia: “Here’s a Sarcasm Wipe. Got a full case just under the table, just for you.”

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Close quarters

One party is feeling strong and confident in the fourth round and that is the Cobra. Pulling a page from her good friend Emma’s book, the Canadian bullies her way inside, and with her right arm preventing an escape, she drives a short, flush left hook into Hee Jung’s jaw. It’s not a classic punch out of a textbook, but it is quite effective.

Virani thinks: I’m bigger and stronger, and I can make this a long night if you can’t stop me from getting in close like this. I’ll wear you down and then knock you out.

Hee Jung thinks: This girl finally figured out where she might have an advantage. I’ll have to beat power with some finesse.

Laila: “MacVicar is bending the rules, but she’s also starting to land some effective offence. If the ref isn’t going to stop it, and we know that Kanti Agrawal is a laissez-faire referee, then Hee Jung will have to show she has a plan to stop it.”

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Virani does have success for a few moments, but even as Hee Jung gets pushed into the ropes, she is able to create enough space that Virani is not able to keep a hold of her. In that space, Hee Jung is able to lean back and us the space she was able to create and land a smashing uppercut right on the jaw.

Hee Jung thinks: Too naïve, young one. You might try to use your strength, but you aren’t experienced enough to use this tactic.

Laila: “Oh! The Empress leans back and lands a cannonball of a right uppercut! That was a big shot from the champion. It seems like Hee Jung came prepared for the challenger to use such tactics. The Korean has paid back the Canadian’s own punishment, with interest.”

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Hurting

Having been dropped in the previous round, and just having absorbed a clean uppercut from the champion, its not a surprise to see that the challenger is hurt. Virani’s staggered, but she does have the wherewithal to put her gloves up to protect herself.

The Empress isn’t going to let the same thing happen to her as what happened in the last round – she goes for the kill, firing away, trying to find the distance as the challenger retreats backwards.

The challenger avoids the worst of it, for now.

Laila: “MacVicar is hurt again! The Empress’ wicked counter shot has turned the momentum of this round on its head. Can Hee Jung collect another impressive stoppage finish?”

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There’s not all that much that just a high guard will do though, as Virani is pressured into a corner, that becomes obvious. Hee Jung doesn’t try for the clever, but takes the obvious opportunities – landing more and more good punches to the body. Right at the bell, Hee Jung lands her best one, a thudding shot right at the belt line that produces an audible groan from the Canadian.

Virani thinks: Thank god for the bell. I couldn’t have taken another good punch without being dropped.

Hee Jung thinks: I’ll get the finish. Anytime now.

Laila: “Another round ends with the challenger just surviving by the skin of her teeth. The challenger has shown good durability, and she’s had some moments, but every time MacVicar looks to have some sort of momentum, it gets snuffed out quickly.”

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Corners

Hee Jung’s corner:

Darius: “Is there anything to say? You are bossing it, girl! Keep on her and she’s going to wilt.”

Hee Jung: “She’s tough. I’ve landed some real good punches, but she’s survived well.”

Darius: “It’ll just be more satisfying when you knock her out then.”

Virani’s corner:

Virani: “Everything I do, she has an answer for it.”

Thomas: “That’s what fighting a top level fighter is like.”

Virani: “That’s not really helpful.”

Thomas: “Look, we aren’t going to win this by decision. You are going to have to endure what she puts out and just look for that one big punch. You can compete at this level. You did it against Alesia. You just need to believe you can do it. You believe, don’t you?”

Virani: “I’m here, aren’t I?”

Thomas: “A puncher’s chance. That’s all you’ve ever needed V.”

Ringside and the ref

Kayleigh: “So, where we going for dinner afterwards? It’s not going to be Virani’s victory party, so we should start planning now.”

Alesia: “How many times has she knocked you down now? Four, is it? So many, I’ve lost count.”

Kayleigh: “Knocked down, but still undefeated.”

Alesia thinks: These two need a third fight to settle the score and shut up about it. I like both, and I’m not that interested in being caught in crossfire.

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Kanti thinks: Damn, this is the best job on earth. I have to wonder how much Virani has left. I know I’m ‘the lenient ref’ but I’m not going to allow her to get knocked around the ring for 10 rounds. That’s how you get seriously hurt. It’s a championship match so I don’t want to stop it early as well. I guess that’s why I get paid the big bucks.”

Virani-v.-Empress-33-Kanti

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