Zoey Whittaker shows she is no pushover
Virani thinks: It’s been too long since I’ve been in the ring. Going to make an impression, and remind people why I’m such a star.
Zoey starts off confidently, not at all awed by the big occasion and her much more experienced foe who seems to be just taking her time to settle back into the familiar setting of the boxing ring. Tall and lanky for a Featherweight, Zoey pokes and prods with a jab, making it difficult for Virani to settle into the fight. Technically proficient, Zoey moves her feet well, adjusting angles and finding a home for the jab, not doing much damage, but controlling the tempo and range of the fight, and not allowing Virani to build momentum of her own.
Laila: “While this one has been set by most pundits as a simple return to the ring for MacVicar, make no mistake, Zoey Whitaker is here to win, and she’s not going to let her idol simply walk all over her.”
Having the advantage in height and after establishing a solid jab, Virani works at trying to chip away at those advantages, but she finds that ‘The Pink Panther’ is not so easily corralled. Virani shifts into a counterpunching mode, giving up a bit of initiative, but it’s a very dangerous position to be in against someone as heavy-handed as Virani MacVicar.
Despite going up against a fighter with 10 career knockouts, many of them spectacular, Zoey doesn’t mind taking a few risks, giving up her height advantage to throw a right hand to the body. Virani reacts by unleashing a right hand towards the head of her opponent, but Zoey smartly gets her head off line and lets Virani’s right hand sail wide. The pink glove lands cleanly in the midsection of the Canadian Cobra.
Laila: “Zoey Whitaker is looking good early in this one. With MacVicar though, it only takes one punch to turn the fight quickly. Whitaker does not have that power in her arsenal.”
The Cobra, who has shared ring time with Hee Jung Park, and Alesia Schuman isn’t exactly put off by a slower start. She works patiently, creeping into range of Zoey before unleashing the type of punches she wants – powerful hooks from close range.
Virani gets into range after making Zoey miss and she immediately gets to work, throwing the punch that has struck fear into so many of her opponents, her left hook. It crunches home, missing the chin of her opponent, but sending a warning that she’s more than capable of landing that punch. And if it lands flush, the fight could be over shortly thereafter.
Virani thinks: Careful young one. Wouldn’t want your dream match to be over so quickly, would you?
Laila: “And here is the problem of fighting someone as dangerous as Virani MacVicar. Get into an exchange and yes, you could inflict damage, but you just as easily could take a fight altering punch. MacVicar is dressed in green, but yellow might be more appropriate. Caution: stay away.”
Speaking of staying away, Virani has put a good deal of work in her career to become less hittable. The hitting people part came easily to her. The not get hit park has not. Still, part of being a puncher is that you have to be in range of your opponent’s fists to land a punch of your own, hence the not getting hit part is quite important, especially as Virani will never be confused with a durable fighter.
A particularly eye-catching defensive move occurs on a classic 1-2 from Zoey. Virani avoids both the jab and the quickly thrown right hand behind it with some good movement from her torso and head.
Laila: “MacVicar’s defence is usually quite basic and involves blocking with her gloves, but we’ve seen less of that here in this fight, instead prioritizing a more fluid defence that should allow for a more dynamic offence.
Having gotten a bit of the momentum back on her side, Virani looks to build on that, wanting to build the round, or more likely, wanting to leave an impression on her young challenger with a green fist or two.
But cool under pressure is the relative newcomer to the professional ranks, as she dips, dives and dodges away from Virani’s pressure and the dynamite in those green gloves.
Sandra thinks: This is a good test. Zoey is simply not here to wilt at the first punch she takes, which is what some opposition has done. Virani has to think and stay sharp to win this. Which she will, of course.
Laila: “Zoey Whittaker draws some applause from the crowd that may have expected a bloodletting. The ‘Pink Panther’ has not looked out of place in the ring with the Canadian Cobra so far.”
The Panther’s Punch
With Virani chasing the fight and the round, it was inevitable that there was going to be a flashpoint towards the end of the round. Virani, somewhat predictably wants to go for the left hook, but before she can complete the motion, Zoey beats her to the punch with a brilliant right cross that twists Virani’s head and neck around with the force of the blow.
Laila: “A bullseye of a punch from Zoey Whitaker who lands right on the chin of MacVicar!”
Fans of the Canadian Cobra hold their breath. They’ve seen this script before. But instead of Virani staggering back, hurt, the Canadian Cobra… doesn’t react.
Virani thinks: That didn’t hurt. It was right on the button and I felt nothing.
Emboldened, Virani drops her arms and comes forward. The former Canadian champion sticks her tongue out at her opponent, showing clearly what she thinks of that punch.
Zoey thinks: I don’t understand…
Laila: “MacVicar took a clean shot on the chin from Zoey Whitaker and it really seems that she’s taken it well. Whitaker looks a bit stunned.”
Zoey backs off, as the remaining seconds of the round tick down.
We go to the corners at the end of the first round.
Sandra: “A bit rusty. I’d say that round was a 4/10. I want much better from you.”
Virani: “She’s a bit elusive, with a long jab but no power.”
Sandra: “She can wear Reyes gloves all she wants, but she’s a pure pillow-hands. She punches like an accountant. Now that we know what she can and cannot do, I want you to just ignore her. Walk into range and unload. She can’t stop it.”
Virani: “Won’t that teach bad habits?”
Sandra: “This isn’t a time where you question, this is a time where you do what I say.”
Virani: “Okay then.”
Brad: “You won that first round, and you landed the best punch of the round. You’re doing it, babe.”
Zoey: “I don’t think I hurt her with it though.”
Brad: “Doesn’t matter, it’ll come, just keep it up. Good jab, step away when she comes at you. Remember, step to the side, not straight back. Just like we practiced.”
Zoe is certainly proving her mettle to Virani so far. But, what I’m wondering is that if there will be clinching in this fight, will Zoe let Virani know how honored she (Zoe) is to fight her (Virani)?
Welp. If Virani doesn’t have to worry about power then poor Zoey is already on borrowed time and the latter may already know it deep down given the reaction on both sides to that last punch. Sandra’s got the right idea here and is definitely trying to cultivate a fearsome long-term image here for V –>
“If you can’t hurt her, your defeat is inevitable”
Virani will catch on 🙂
This was a good round for Zoey as the underdog in this fight, however the more alarming thing is her lack of punch power. An improvement for Virani is that while she did technically lose the round and took more punches than needed, she is trying to work at her defense as the commentary noted and she has better punch durability as she did not even react to a punch right to the chin. Whether this says a lot about Virani being able to handle punches or Zoey being a softy with her fists, it remains to be seen but I think Virani will surely not let another round slip in this fight. She got a feel for what Zoey is like right now, and she will be ready. This will be more of a survival for the underdog than to defeat her idol, and I got a feeling that if that punch could not take Virani down, nothing will. I give Zoey until Round 4 until she suffers a defeat. If she makes it past that, I am open to any bets.
Zoey did a lot better than I expected but really laid the groundwork for her defeat. If her great solid punch didn’t even phase Virani, she’s going to be desperate and take risks or scared and bullied around the ring. Zoey seems to have the same problem Chelsea had in her first fight, solid technique but no power.
Zoey’s start is not bad. But as you said, the groundwork for her defeat is there too.
Virani’s got to actually land those punches though
This one starts nicely. There is something rewarding in watching a tall fighter boxing with good technique and letting her hands go, and Zoey does some of that. Good jab, taking the body from a distance.
Virani gets outboxed for a spell but she responds in kind with a decent left hook and by avoiding some punches, without rushing anything. It’s a display of patience that separates elite fighters from noobs, and one that Virani has to integrate in her game. It’s especially important when the opponent doesn’t melt down with one good shot. Gotta work your way in and let chances develop.
Zoey fights well in the final stage. Ducking and finishing with a flush right hand, on the chin. You know that a punch is perfect when it makes your head bounce but Virani isn’t hurt at all. The boxing ring is a great place when you can take your opponent’s best shot without fear. It makes you confident enough to take one to land one. In this case, even to stick your tongue out 😛
Sandra knows and her advice reflects it. Go ahead and attack. You might get hit, but she can’t knock you out. Virani still has to get used to taking instructions but if she puts doubts aside and charges? That could be dangerous for Zoey.
Zoey’s off to a good start. She’s showing that despite being in the ring with her idol, she has also come to fight. And she’s shown some skill. Long arms landing to the head and to the body, that’s what you’d like to see from her if you were a Zoey supporter.
Virani takes that final shot, and reacts not at all like Zoey might have seen in her dreams. This is more like a nightmare – Virani takes Zoey’s best shot and basically says ‘that all you got?’
With the truth laid bare, Sandra wants aggression. Is Virani still capable of it? We’ll have to see.
I was concerned that Virani was going to get clobbered after being away and not taking her opponents seriously. Unless something changes I think V will hurt Zoey in the next round and challenge her heart.
It’s not a pretty start from Virani, but there has been worse.
We’ll see what the next round brings.
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