Virani lands power punches but can she hurt Sonia?
A bit annoyed at having lost the last round, Virani vows that she will not be outworked by her American competitor. Virani leads with a strong jab, using it as the basis upon which she will dominate the action.
Sonia does her best to try to cope with Virani, and fight back but the jab of the Canadian is on target more often than not, derailing any hopes of Sonia building on the momentum of the previous round.
Laila: “Another jab on target for MacVicar here in the early part of the fourth. As always an underrated part of Virani’s game, she has a very disruptive jab that she can often use to mask the power punches that are so feared.”
The Canadian Cobra is not the type to stick behind a jab for the entire round. The jab is a tool to set up other punches. In particular, the classic 1-2 combination is a classic for a reason. It’s a natural flowing action. Everyone and their mother can throw a 1-2. Just some people throw it harder than others.
Sonia finds out that lesson the hard way. She’s able to avoid or block some of the right hands, but some find their mark. Of particular note is a shot landed at 1:02 of the fourth round, as is gets right through Sonia’s guard to connect with Sonia’s chin.
Laila: “What’s it like to be in there with someone with power like MacVicar.”
Mechelle: “I was in the ring with Heather Barker. She could throw hard when she wanted to and when she landed flush, it was like getting hit with a club, not a fist. That’s probably what Sonia is feeling at the moment.”
It’s a one-sided round that inevitably has Sonia looking for anything resembling a safe space. Unfortunately, there’s not much room for safety in the boxing ring. The only safe spot is the canvas, and that’s still not an ideal spot for a prizefighter to be.
Late in the round, Sonia finds herself backed into the ropes, and a clever cobra sneaks a right hand around the raised guard of the American champion.
Mechelle: “Boxing is not all about the techniques you can learn classically with perfect footwork – sometimes it’s about knowing how to manoeuvre yourself so that you can slip in a punch from an unexpected angle. Only the best offensive fighters are capable and confident enough to pull it off.”
Round 4 is a rout for Virani, who wins it handily.
One fighter wants things to change and one of them was pretty happy with how the last one went.
But if you had somehow fallen into a coma during the last round, it remains broadly the same. Sonia adapts, trying to defend against the puncher, and she often is able to block the worst of the barrage. So, like any good predator, Virani adapts.
A long jab to the body isn’t the punch that may have been expected, but with Sonia’s guard up, it is where Virani can punch. So she does.
Mechelle: “People who have never boxed very much underrate punches like that one. It’s a direct, clean shot to the body and it hurts! Sure it’s not flashy, and it won’t make any highlight reels, but it is effective offence.”
Sonia’s dogged defence means that Virani doesn’t get the breakthroughs that she had in the prior round. But the Canadian is superior in this round again, landing the heavier, cleaner punches.
The tenor of the fight generally goes further and further in Virani’s direction. Sonia tries to punch with Virani, but she lacks the speed and technique of the Canadian Featherweight. A highlight comes when Sonia tries to throw an overhand right. Virani’s shorter right hand beats Sonia to the punch, catching her directly in the face. PAFF!
Laila: “Another great punch from Virani MacVicar! She is putting on a masterclass here, but Sonia Fox isn’t showing too many ill effects.”
Virani steps up her attacks late in the round. She wants a knockdown, or better yet, a knockout. She’s winning, but she wants to finish. Now.
Virani ends a furious three-punch combination with a lovely overhand left hook, stepping in to get extra power. She pierces Sonia’s defences and finds the chin of her opponent.
Sonia nods, accepting a punch that landed flush, but shows no ill effects from Virani’s most dangerous weapon.
Virani thinks: What the hell is happening? Is this a bad dream?
At the bell, Sonia turns and walks back to her corner, unphased by another punishing round. A frustrated Cobra throws her hands up in disbelief. She can’t believe what her opponent is enduring.
Laila: “It’s another round in the books for MacVicar, no doubt, but she seems somewhat flummoxed. She hasn’t had a moment where Sonia Fox seemed hurt. She’s winning on points but perhaps Fox has a mental edge at the moment.”
Sandra: “That is one tough chick. You hit her with some bombs and she didn’t even wobble.
Virani: “I don’t think I can knock her out.”
Virani thinks: It feels very strange to say that.
Sandra: “Maybe if I gave you a baseball bat. No point dwelling on it. Change of plans. I want you to box. Stay at a distance, work behind a jab. Grab the points and let’s get out of here. You’re more likely to break your hand than knock her down.”
Virani: “I’m not really comfortable with that style.”
Sandra: “I don’t care. Boxing’s not just about how hard you can punch, though it often is for you. I need you to make an in-fight adjustment. Can you do that for me?”
Sandra: “Because one day in a world title fight, I might need you to do something similar. How about we practice right now.”
Virani: “I get it. Fans won’t be happy, though.”
Sandra: “The fans would happily watch you get knocked out. Are we going to listen to them? Fuck no. Go out there and jab that girl’s face off. Box like the well-rounded fighter I know you can be.”
Ooh! Virani outboxed, outworked, outperformed, basically out everything against Fox here, and not even a knockdown to show for it! If this was a tune-up, that would be the big knockout, but Sonia is showing flashes of her last fight with Tanille here. The American champion may be limited in her boxing skills, but she certainly seems to be unlimited right now in her durability. As for Sandra’s proposed strategy, it reminds me of Foreman vs Holyfield where Holyfield tried to knock him down but had to adjust in a similar way. This is probably the best course of action for Virani, but a sharp comeback might be on the horizon for her opponent. If she can withstand Virani’s punches, she can probably withstand almost anything, she would just need the confidence to make an upset here.
Virani put on a show here in the middle rounds. But not only was there not a knockdown, it didn’t even seem like Sonia was hurt at all.
Sonia is tough as a 20 day old steak. Her skills may not be as high a level as Virani’s but she’s got the durability and the mentality down pat.
A comeback is possible here – if Virani’s uncomfortable, she can get caught for just a moment and it would turn the fight around quite quickly.
It’s jab city in these three rounds, nothing but jabs and Viranis best punch at the end of round 6 and Sonia doesn’t even looked rattled at all. V outboxed her with her extra but this chick really is tough.
This is definitely not the kind of fight V was expecting, and I don’t think she’ll be beating Sonia by hitting her as hard as she can, she’ll just gonna have to keep jabbing and scoring points and mixing things up, she can just keep outboxing her for 4 more rounds and winning by decision, let’s hope she has the patience for that.
There’s more than jabs here, mate :D.
Virani, I think knows Sonia was tough, but also expected that her toughness wouldn’t hold up to the Cobra’s punches. Now she has to change tactics in a way that she really hasn’t had to before. It’s a different challenge in a fight that she is winning fairly easily at the moment.
But yeah, Sonia is REALLY tough!
It has to be a little maddening for someone like Virani, who made it a tradition to knock chicks out or at least down. She’s landing punches but Sonia’s lights remain on. Like hammering a piece of iron that refuses to change shape.
The American can’t solve the Canadian’s boxing skills but her ability to stand up when getting leathered up brings new risk to the game. Will Virani, as Sandra highlighted, risk injuring a hand to try and stop her? Will the girl in blue survive enough punishment to make her opponent tired?
The coach’s advice is on the mature side. Work well to outbox Sonia for four more rounds to cruise to a decision. Given how the action has gone, odds of winning a decision are favourable unless Sonia scores a game-changing punch. Ten rounds is a long time in the boxing ring, which isn’t safe until the contest is over. It only takes one wrong move to derail the train.
This should test Virani’s maturity as a fighter. She only had two decisions in her career. One in the first match and that draw with Kayleigh. Can she show that patience?
Virani’s running into something new here. She’s used to getting reaction when her best punches land, but Sonia just seems to be shrugging these punches off as if they are having no effect. As if she’s Ramla Ali and not Virani MacVicar ;).
Sonia’s durabiliity led to Tanille getting tired and then enduring a very tough last round in which she was almost stopped. Could the same happen to Virani? I wouldn’t count on it, but you couldn’t rule it out either. A hand injury could almost be worse in a way. Without her power, is Virani even remotely on the same level?
So Sandra calls for a switch. Lets get out of here with a win, and just go for the decision. Sonia would need to put Virani on the canvas in all likelihood, and at the moment that doesn’t seem likely.
It’s a surprisingly important moment her for Virani. How adaptable can she be or even how coachable is she? Will she follow Sandra’s advice or go her own way? We’ll find out.
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