Fighters Prepare for battle in tough sparring
Preparations for a fight are nothing new for Virani MacVicar, but her main sparring partner for the upcoming fight is. Helping out in this one is the lovely Delara Salimi a Super Lightweight contender from the UK, via Iran.
Virani: “We’re sparing no expense with these sparring partners. Delara’s significantly better than Sonia. Maybe I should fight her instead.”
Sandra: “I believe in high quality sparring and Delara is both bigger than you and skilled. Always helps to practice against those natural advantages that she has. Plus, if she tags you, it’ll hurt, and I want you to remember not to make mistakes.”
Virani (jokingly): “Can we bring in some newbie just so I can tee off on her for a bit?”
Sandra: “That’s why we have a heavy bag.”
As predicted, Delara provides tough competition for Virani. The UK based fighter pressures Virani constantly, making Virani step backwards and away from the continual pressure. That pressure opens up opportunities for leather, and Delara lands most of the good punches in the early going, including an overhand right that finds the chin of the former world title challnger.
Sonia: “Think faster! Act faster or Delara will bury you. Right Delara?”
Delara: “I’m not opposed to it.”
Virani thinks: This chick is hard to deal with. Need to move my feet.
The best type of learning is learning on the job. Virani knows she’s not really a natural counterpuncher, so the best way to deal with Delara, is to not get caught – she wants to keep her distance and stop getting run over.
Late in the session, forced back into the ropes, Virani doesn’t panic, she knows where she is in the ring and simply leans back and away from a right hand from Delara. The former Canadian champion remains comfortable, and mostly in a position to strike back.
Sandra thinks: I’ll make a complete fighter out of this girl yet.
Sandra: “Time! Thank you Delara. That was good work. Virani – good adaption – Delara, loved the work rate.”
Virani: “Thanks. I love your hair. Suits you.”
Delara: “Thanks. I like your style too.”
Virani: “Let’s get a pic. My social media will love it.”
Delara: “Just make sure to retweet me. I need the followers.”
The Champ and the Empress
Off in an unassuming part of San Diego trains the Empress, Hee Jung Park, licking her wounds after losing to Kayleigh Parsons. The Korean isn’t taking her loss lying down though, clearly intending on having at least one more kick at the can. Her coach, Darius Miles, has brought Sonia Fox in to be a sparring partner, and conveniently enough it coincides with Sonia’s fight with Virani. A win-win scenario.
A little intimidated by the multi-weight world champion, Sonia doesn’t say much, but when asked to get ready to spar, she’s eager to impress.
It’s not an easy first few rounds for the American champion. Hee Jung’s polish and skill is like nothing she’s quite seen before. The Empress is getting good work, but there’s no question who is getting the better of it.
After a few rounds, something strange happens. The American champion doesn’t lose heart. She adjusts. She gets better. She forces Hee Jung to find another gear to keep the upper hand.
Sonia thinks: She’s just another boxer. A very good boxer. But just a boxer,
Darius: “Time! Thank you Sonia that was good work. Make sure you get paid for your rounds.”
Sonia: “Yes. Thank you for the opportunity. Empress, the honor was mine.”
Hee Jung: “My name is just Hee Jung. Thank you Sonia. Good luck against Virani, she is not an easy competitor to face.”
Sonia: “Thank you. Any advice?”
Hee Jung: “Tuck your chin. Try not to let her power spook you.”
Sonia: “Thank you! Call me if you need sparring any time!”
Sonia leaves the coach and the former champion alone.
Hee Jung: “Not the usual mentality of a national champion.”
Darius: “She’s only champion, because no one cares enough about the belt to take it from her. Tough gal, I’ll give her that.”
Hee Jung: “Disagree. I thought she showed talent. Her techinque and footwork are a bit rough but her instincts in the ring are good. We should look to bring her into camp next time. With a bit more work, she can be something more.”
Darius: “I don’t see it, but she’s at least tough.”
Laila: “Wecome welcome to another fine evening here in Toronto, which lately has become a hotbed for boxing events. While our main event is coming up, we have an excellent fight to start off proceedings here tonight as Virani MacVicar will take on the Featherweight champion of the United States in Sonia Fox. I’m joined for this one by Mechelle Gauthier, who you may have seen in a pair of wars against Emma McGale for the Canadian Featherweight title.”
Mechelle: “It’s a pleasure to be here – I’ll try to provide insight for the viewers at home. But it looks like we are ready for the official introductions.”
Ring announcer: “Welcome to the arena. Fans, it is fight time!”
The crowd in Toronto responds, happy to see one of the local favourites in the ring.
Ring announcer: “Introducing first, fighting out of the blue corner, this woman comes to us today with record of 7 wins and 3 losses with 2 of those wins coming by way of knockout. She is the current American Featherweight champion. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Sonia Fox!”
There is perfunctory noise from the crowd. Given the sporting rivalry between Canada and the United States, it is not unexpected.
Laila: “Sonia Fox is a national champion and a tough customer. Her losses have only really been to top competition but it begs the question if she has enough to fight at the level she is being placed at. One thing is for sure, she has a chin like iron.”
Ring announcer: “Introducing second, fighting out of the red corner, this woman comes to us today with record of 12 wins, 5 losses and 1 draw, with 11 of those wins coming by way of knockout. She is coached by Sandra Blohm of Germany. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the former Featherweight champion of Canada, The Canadian Cobra, Virani MacVicar!”
The crowd salutes the local hero, and Virani’s opening pose exudes confidence.
Virani thinks: This is one of the best feelings in the world. The best is the feeling after knocking someone out, of course.
Laila: “The Canadian Cobra needs little introduction. A former world title challenger, and a ferocious puncher, she is looking to rebuild momentum with a new coach, Sandra Blohm. A victory over game but overmatched Zoey Whittaker earlier this year was expected, but for now she seems to be taking it slow.”
Mechelle: “In charge of the action will be Tina Twellman, one of the best young referee’s in Canada. Let’s hear her last instructions to the fighters.”
Tina: “Fighters. This fight is being conducted under the unified rules. This is a 10 round fight. There is no three-knockdown rule or standing eight-count. You cannot be saved by the bell in any round. If you knock your opponent down, you have to go to a neutral corner before I start a count. When I say ‘break,’ it’s not for my own health – you are to break. Obey my command at all times or expect consequences. Fight hard, fight clean. Now, touch gloves.”
Sonia extends her gloves forward, and Virani taps lightly on them. There’s not any attempt or mindgames, just stern expressions shared between the fighters.
Laila: “What should we expect in this fight, Mechelle?”
Mechelle: “Virani is not necessarily a fast starter, but her power often makes opponents wary in the early going. They want a taste of leather before they can decide what kind of risks they are willing to take. Sonia knows she is the underdog here. I’d expect her to be cautious.”
Laila: “Wouldn’t an underdog try to start fast and try to surprise her opponent?”
Mechelle: “That sounds like a quick way to have your night end very quickly. The Canadian Cobra only needs one punch to change a fight.”
Laila: “So what does Sonia need to do to win?”
Mechelle: “Make it a tough fight and a long fight. Virani’s fights tend not to go deep into the later rounds, so I’d be wanting to try my luck late and see if I can make an impression then.”
Laila: “It sounds like you are predicting a win for Virani.”
Mechelle: “Aren’t we all? No disrespect to Sonia Fox, who is a solid fighter. But there’s a gap in skills and experience here that is hard to overcome.”
Laila: “The fans are ready, the fighters are ready. Round one is coming up shortly!.”