One punch turns the fight around completely
A hurt champion emerges from the corner cautiously, knowing full well that she needs to be aggressive to overturn the deficit on the scorecards. It’s a conundrum, but Mechelle knows she can’t win by knockout if she’s already been knocked out. So she tries to take it easy in Round 7.
Emma has other ideas. While Mechelle does well in avoiding the worst of the punches, the pressure from the challenger is relentless. Where Emma has the most success is when she is able to get up close with Mechelle and push her around.
Later in the round, Emma gets Mechelle in the ropes and goes to work. She is able to create the space she needs to punch by using her physicality to overpower her opponent. Not only does the crisp let hook that she lands hurt, she is fatigued by having to deal with grappling with Emma.
Laila: “Few do it better in tight quarters than Emma McGale. She seems like a sweet girl outside the ring, but get her in close and she will use all of her tools to make her opponent’s night a long one.”
As Round 7 is notched as win for Emma, Mechelle now knows she needs something spectacular to turn the fight around. Her punch output drops, but she puts more on her punches. Trying to hit a homerun as it were.
As Mechelle is more willing to enter into trades, she often finds herself taking a good punch in exchange for nothing. Case in point, Mechelle wants to end an exchange with an uppercut, probably her best punch, but Emma sees it coming, makes sure she gets out of the way and counters with her own punch, a quick overhand right that lands flush on the jaw of the champion.
Emma thinks: Too slow, too predictable
Laila: “McGale continues to be on top here in Round 8. She’s boxing quite well tonight and seems to completely have the measure of Gauthier. That overhand right has been one of her best punches.”
Knowing what your opponent wants to do is pretty key in a one-on-one contest like boxing. Emma knows full well that Mechelle is getting aggressive not because she wants to be, but because she needs to be. Emma doesn’t let that knowledge make her passive, but it does make her way to dictate the fight more.
As Mechelle tries to get into prime punching range and throw an overhand right, Emma meets her with a stiff jab that not only completely disrupts the punch, but it jolts Mechelle’s head as the dark grey glove meets cheek and jaw.
Sandra thinks: I’m not sure Emma is the domestic level fighter people think she is. I think she can be more.
Laila: “McGale certainly seems to have moved up a level. She displaying a complete set of tools tonight against Gauthier.”
But the beauty of boxing is that it can all change in just one moment, just one punch. And with her back to the wall, the champion produces a moment of brilliance.
Emma has been going low to avoid the incoming haymakers from Mechelle, but this time, Mechelle times her perfectly and catches Emma right as she is ducking down with a massive uppercut.
Laila: “OH! A rocket of an uppercut has connected from Gauthier! The champion has been throwing haymakers and that one connected! A massive shot! Can McGale take it?”
The short answer is no.
The reaction from Emma is instantaneous. She collapses to the canvas, falling flat at the feet of the champion, who looks as surprised as anyone by the quick turnaround.
Laila: “McGale is down! She took an absolute howitzer on the chin from Gauthier and she looks like she might be out! Is this the turnaround that the champ needed?”
Victoria thinks: Holy shit, that girl might be out. A one-hitter-quitter. But before I decide anything, Mechelle’s going to be in the neutral corner.
Victoria: “Neutral corner, Now!”
Mechelle makes her way to the neutral corner, not exactly sprinting, but taking in the moment which may be the highlight of her career.
On the canvas, Emma has not moved.
Here’s what happens to Emma. She comes to on the canvas, disorientated and with the sound of the crowd roaring in her ears. Her instincts tell her that she needs to get up, and while her brain thinks this is a good idea, her body is slow, and sluggish to react to her commands.
Victoria thinks: Glad this girl is moving, because it would have been a shame to have the fight end on one punch in a fight she was bossing. Still, she seems plenty hurt. I’ll give her a count, but I’m not fully convinced.
By the count of 5, Emma’s no longer strewn out on the canvas, but she is struggling to get her limbs to do what she wants them to do.
Laila: “A game challenger is showing her heart here, but she might have had the fight knocked out of her by that incredible uppercut from Mechelle Gauthier.”
By the count of 8, Emma is to her feet, though she hardly looks steady.
Victoria: “Do you want to continue?”
Emma: “Yes, ma’am.”
Victoria: “You’re on a short leash, understand?”
Emma: “Yes, ref.”
There’s not much time for subtlety once the fight resumes, and Emma doesn’t try for it. She simply pushes forward and drives Mechelle into the ropes, drawing a warning from the referee, but also wasting time.
Seeing no chance to get in a punch, Mechelle opts for a verbal dagger.
Mechelle: “Gotcha with the uppercut again. I’ll knock you out in the 9th like I did in the last fight.”
Emma thinks: I’d rather you talk with your mouth than your fists at the moment.
That is the last major action of the round as Emma is more or less saved by the bell. We go now to the corners.
Sandra: “Will you stop looking so hurt! Christ, you look like someone battered you with a 2×4 for 10 minutes. Fucking sit up straight, or I’ll stop the fight right now.”
Emma thinks: This coach has no chill.
Emma sits up and the coach gives her a quick drink of water.
Sandra: “Okay. She fluked a punch to catch you. Not your fault. We can drop a round here, no problem. Just don’t let her fire away on you. Grab, hold, delay, whatever. You know all the tricks, its time to use them.”
Sandra: “And listen to me. I ain’t gonna stop the fight. This ref ain’t going to stop the fight. That means it’s all on you out there. If you can stay on your feet for FOUR minutes, you’ll be champion. You can do it.”
Sylvie: “Heather has the uppercut, I think your uppercut needs a nickname after that.”
Mechelle: “Championcut? Prettycut?”
Sylvie: “We’ll stow it for later. But right now, you need to throw everything at her. She’s hurt, and we know that she doesn’t recover that well. You have to at least put this girl on the canvas again this round. The scorecards are not going to be favouring you. Throw everything at her. If you get caught, you get caught, but I don’t think she has the ability to take punches from you.”
Mechelle: “She’s tough, but not durable.”
Sylvie: “Exactly. Put her out and we’ll celebrate. That’s what I want, okay?”