The pre-fight is finally over for the two fighters. There’s nothing more than a few seconds between them and exchanging leather with their opponent. For both fighters, there’s nowhere else they’d rather be. The hard work is done, now is time for the thrill of competing.
Virani thinks: Sonia’s tough, so I can’t do it in one punch, but I can build up to a stoppage. That’s my goal.
Sonia thinks: She’s got more losses than I do. Let’s try to tack on another – I have nothing to lose in this one.
Virani sets the pace of the fight early, bolstered by a home crowd that wants to see a usual Virani MacVicar fight – beauty, violence, skill and a knockout, preferably all from the hometown fighter.
Sonia starts a bit cautiously, exchanging jabs, but really wanting to get a sense of Virani’s famed power. When facing someone with double digit knockouts, several of them of the highlight reel variety, getting a sense of much of a punch that Virani packs is not the worst idea.
The American champion gets a first taste, 27 seconds in as Virani is able to score from a distance with a clean right hand, just overtop of Sonia’s returning jab.
Laila: “MacVicar has started brightly here in the first. It’s nothing overwhelming, but she’s imposing her will just the same.”
Sonia’s no shrinking violet, however. You don’t go 8 rounds with Tanille Taylor without being very tough. She knows the only way to win is to throw punches at Virani, and potentially get into a firefight with a fighter you don’t want to do that with.
Still, she finds connecting with Virani a fairly difficult task. A long left hook is attempted, but Virani is able to lean away and use some head movement to make that punch fly harmlessly by.
Laila: “A slick move from MacVicar as she makes Sonia Fox miss. Thoughts so far about the fight, Mechelle?”
Mechelle: “To me, it looks like Sonia doesn’t quite have the hand speed that some of the other top Featherweights have showcased. That will allow Virani to be a bit more lax with her defence, but its also showing that she’s seeing the punches coming from Sonia too. The American champion needs to mix up her feinting game a bit. It’s too straightforward at the moment. A bit too predictable.”
Virani’s in control the remainder of the round, and although she doesn’t get any significant breakthroughs, its clearly a round her favour on the scorecards.
For the start of the second round, Virani wants to step it up a notch. The first round was good, but the second round could be better. There’s a real intention to Virani’s movement as she walks Sonia down, trying to draw a reaction from the American champion, something that would give Virani the opportunity to really make a mark.
The pressure on Sonia eventually tells. After a combination from Virani which misses the mark, Sonia opens up to reply with a right hand but Virani’s left hook is already on the way. She connects crisply on the chin of the American, twisting her head around painfully as she gets a real taste of the punch that has sent so many to the canvas.
Laila: “MacVicar has come out here in the second round with real intent to hurt her opponent. Sonia looks like she is having a bit of trouble in keeping up with the pace of the former title challenger at the moment.”
Virani thinks: This girl is tough, but she’s not skilled enough to stay in the ring with me. Well, not for long at least.
For better or for worse, Sonia endures when Virani pressures her. Tenaciously, she doesn’t run, hide or look for a safe spot to take a knee. She hangs in there and tries to compete. She gets the worst of it throughout the round – the worst probably being a wicked right hand from a distance that sends sweat flying from the head of the woman in blue.
Mechelle: “That’s a great right hand from MacVicar. She’s really showing a diversity of weapons here, not letting Sonia settle in or get a sense of rhythm. It’s what makes her such a nightmare to face. She’s not just a heavy puncher, she’s a smart heavy puncher with a diverse weapon set.”
Sonia knows enough about the fight game to know the direction this one is going. This is different to her fight against Tanille, where she was at times able to keep pace. The American champion has no intention of ending up on some highlight reel. So she gets physical. She gets in tight and bullies Virani into the ropes.
A surprised Canadian can only look shocked as the physically stronger Sonia has her way with her, completely derailing her momentum and teaching the Indian-Canadian boxer a lesson – Sonia is strong, and she knows how to use that strength.
Virani thinks: So this is what it’s like to fight a worse version of Emma. It’s not that fun.
The third round is a bit of a slower round. Virani tries to land potshots on Sonia from a distance, but the American defends well. Sure, punches land here and there, but not the devastating power punches that one may be used to seeing in a Canadian Cobra match. Towards the end of the round, Virani’s punch output drops, figuring that she’s done enough to win the points.
That only incites the the American to come forward. She takes a risk and throws a long right hand to the body that connects to Virani’s midsection, provoking a grunt from the hometown fighter.
Laila: “A dangerous punch to throw from Sonia Fox, but it did connect. She’s not going away easily in this fight.”
Mechelle: “Boxing is a game of managed risks, and Sonia managed it well there.”
Sensing an opportunity to maybe even steal the round, Sonia throws and comes forward. Under fire, Virani tries to defend, but she misjudges an unorthodox right hook that connects cleanly, though not at the best location. Still, there’s knuckles meeting jaw and that’s always good if you are a girl wearing blue.
Sandra thinks: This is not good enough from Virani. We cannot afford lapses in effort like this.
A strong end to the round means that Sonia Fox may have left the judges with a more favourable impression in the third round. The punch numbers were close, but Sonia’s output late the the round stole the show.
Laila: “An expected straightfoward win for Virani MacVicar got a bit interesting as Sonia Fox clearly had the upper hand in the latter stages of the third round. That may mean this could be a closer one than some have predicted.”
Cameron: “You did good there. You’re hanging in, making her work. But you know you can’t win a decision. You’ve got to get her on the canvas.”
Sonia: “I know. I’m working on it.”
Cameron: “Okay. We both know we have to get this to go late. Go to the body, and don’t let her get momentum.”
Sonia: “I’m on top on it.”
Cameron: “You’re showing you belong. Keep showing it.”
Sandra: “Was this fight not exciting enough for you or did you just spot a hottie in the crowd that distracted you?”
Sandra: “Just trying to figure out why you let this girl back in the fight. She just outworked you!”
Virani: “It happens. I’m not perfect.”
Sandra: “Not good enough. I want you to put the hammer down NOW. Step up your game. Find the next gear. This is not the time to get lazy!”
Virani thinks: What the hell. It’s not like I’m getting my ass kicked in there.
Virani: “She won’t win another round.”
Sandra: “Good. I want to see POWER. She won’t even try to win rounds if you are blasting her with power shots. I want to see more. Let’s fight to a higher standards, shall we?”
Mechelle: “Sonia Fox is capably playing the role of underdog here. She’s keeping Virani MacVicar honest and making her work for each round. She’ll have to keep the rounds tight and maybe take advantage of a mistake to see if she can really put her stamp on the fight.”
Mechelle: “It has to be said, that we haven’t yet seen the prime Virani MacVicar yet in this fight. We’ll expect to see it shortly, one would think.”