It’s the 7th round and although Virani is up on the scorecards, she’s been instructed to make a change in gameplan. It’s a new, uncomfortable style for the Canadian. She drops the pace of the fight, focusing not on breaking her opponent down with punching, but working behind a long jab and trying to outbox Sonia.
Laila: “As we heard between rounds, MacVicar has been instructed to switch her gameplan and box with Fox. I assume that this must be music to the ears of Sonia Fox. She got her face punched in during the last two rounds, but may get a bit of a reprieve.”
With the tempo of the fight a bit lower and Virani a bit more uncomfortable with the style of the fight, a lot of the round goes by without a significant action. Though Virani’s jab had worked during the first half of the fight, it makes less of an impact now. Sonia stays close, knowing she needs to be in close to land the punches she needs to win a round, or maybe put Virani on the canvas and put the fight back in jeopardy.
With the pace of the fight lower, Sonia feels more emboldened to take some risks.
With Virani slightly de-fanged by her new style, this pays dividends. Sonia now comes forward and dictates the fight and she is rewarded when throwing a 1-2. Virani leans back to avoid the first jab, but doesn’t get reset in time and she has no hope of avoiding the blue missile. Leather finds jaw and the sound of a solid connection fills the arena.
Virani thinks: Fuck. I’m struggling here. Sonia punches pretty good too.
Laila: “Fox connects with a nice right hand! Sonia Fox has to get a ton of credit as she continues to take the fight to MacVicar. She is not going away in this fight, not by a long shot.”
It’s clear that Virani is not comfortable with the change. She fights off the back foot and obviously does not have much faith in her ability to use this style. Nonetheless, like the headstrong woman she can be a times, she forges ahead and tries to make the best of it.
That might be inspirational in a Disney movie, but in the boxing ring with Sonia Fox – it only leads to more pain. A badly telegraphed jab gives Sonia a chance to reply with a strong left hand to the midsection that makes Virani grunt in pain.
Laila: “This round looks like it is going in the books for Sonia Fox. She might not have hurt MacVicar, but she was clearly the boxer on top in this round.”
Mechelle: “Virani’s coach wanted something different, but she won’t be too happy with this last round. Let’s see if they shift back to the usual programming.”
In the corner the message from Sandra Blohm is short and to the point. Make this work. No excuses. Not if you want to be a champion.
The former lawyer takes stock before the start of the eighth round. She’s in a tough fight with a fighter that will not give up or back down.
Virani thinks: I need to remember that I can do more than punch. I trained all these years to box. I can outbox this girl. I’m better. No matter the style.
No one gives that mental memo to Sonia Fox, who wants to physically impose herself on Virani – something that she’s had the most success with in this fight. Much like Emma McGale, Sonia finds fighting in close naturally, and tough Virani can do a lot to negate it, when they tussle in tight early in the round, Sonia leans in to give her an angle for an overhand left that lands cleanly.
Laila: “Sonia Fox is playing the bully here in the 8th round. She hasn’t been able to get in tight very often, but she’s occasionally shown the capability to do just that to Virani MacVicar.”
Mechelle: “I speak from experience when I say it is not fun to get bullied in tight. Virani needs distance.”
Virani grabs on to Sonia and forces a clinch and a break.
Virani thinks: “I am not getting bullied around this damn ring. I am going to impose myself. By being better.”
Mechelle: “I would not like to be on the other side of a gaze like that. But it really shows that the fire is in MacVicar still. She’s not going to coast to a decision.”
But Sonia Fox is the one currently with the momentum. She knows she is down in the fight and she needs to land more to really put pressure on Virani. The former Canadian Featherweight champion does not make that easy though. She fights behind a stiff jab which gives Virani an extra split second to react when Sonia flurries. The Canadian shows unexpected fluidity in these situations, making Sonia Fox miss, even in situations when she felt that she was in a good position to land.
A particularly evident example of this is when Virani ducks nicely to avoid a strong right hand from Sonia.
Laila: “MacVicar is showing some unexpected defensive nous here late in this fight. She’s making it quite hard for Sonia Fox to make a clean connection.”
Mechelle: “It is so disheartening and energy draining to throw a punch you think will land, only to have it whiff completely.”
Sandra: “Move and punch, Virani!”
Virani fights a bit taller than her usual stance, trading a bit of power of being largely flatfooted for a more fluid approach. Virani finds that she moves a little bit easier and with the advantage in speed and footwork, it opens up some opportunities for her to punch from good angles. While Virani’s punch output has dropped, when she does land, she can still strike very hard.
Laila: “Virani is boxing much better here in the 8th round. What’s been the difference, Mechelle?”
Mechelle: “She’s lighter on her feet. When you are a puncher, you can kind of just plod forward. But when you are boxing at range, you want to be light on your toes, shifting angles and being able to react quickly. She’s also throwing a jab with real snap and intent to it. It’s setting up everything.”
The 8th round ends, which means the fighters retreat to their corners for further instruction.
Cameron: “How are you feeling, kid.”
Sonia: “Good. It’s hard in there.”
Cameron: “It isn’t going to get easier. You’re down pretty big. You’ve got to come forward and go for the knockout. That’s all there is to it.”
Sonia: “She’s too fast. And she’s not giving me the same chances to punch.”
Cameron: “You have to force her to make mistakes. You have to pressure, and hope she cracks.”
Sandra: “So you can teach an old dog new tricks. Good to see.”
Virani: “Wasn’t exactly easy. Is she slowing down at all?”
Sandra: “Nah, she’s in top shape. Could easily box six more rounds.”
Virani: “Same plan?”
Sandra: “Yep. Don’t take risks. Use your jab. Don’t let her get inside. Stick and move and then come over the top with a right hand. She’s plodding and she has to follow you around. Make her pay. But for the love of god, don’t get hit by some haymaker. She’s going to swing for the fences.”
Virani: “I watch enough drama on TV. I don’t need it in my fights.”
Sandra: “Good. Two more rounds. No mistakes.”
Mechelle: “Though this has been somewhat closer than expected, and most probably would not have predicted a fight even reaching the end of the 8th. I have MacVicar up 6 rounds to 2, so Fox will need to get Virani on the canvas in order to have any chance to win this fight. Though Virani is not the most iron-chinned fighter, it does seem like a difficult task for Fox.”
“Most surprising has been the shift in gameplan from MacVicar. She’s showing some versatility and evolution to her game, though it hasn’t always been smooth sailing.”
Ooh! I think Sonia is getting back into her comeback form here! Even with Virani winning the last round, there is a sign there and that is needed to show the American champion that she has a chance if the right steps are taken. 8 rounds with no knockdowns, when is the last time you can remember a fight going like this on the site? Virani’s shift might work out here for just 6 more minutes, but sometimes the adjustments shift for more than 1 boxer and that is what happened in Round 7. Maybe just 1 more adjustment is what’s needed for both North America boxers here late in the fight. Sonia just has to hope that forcing Virani to make mistakes does not lead to her own mistake instead, even she admits that Virani is too fast.
Sonia is the type that will never go away in a fight. She’s in it until the very end.
Sonia needs, at least a late knockdown to try to claim the fight, she’s certainly won 2 of the rounds, but that’s not enough in a ten round fight. If she closed spectacularly though, it could make for some interesting scorecards.
Small moments of adjustment now that pay massive dividends down the road not just for this fight but the ones to come. Fox is doing what she does best and forcing V to sink or swim which is something she absolutely needs more of.
Great contest to this point!
It’s an intriguing contest, even if it hasn’t been close, necessarily speaking.
Sometimes a fighter’s evolution is more important than just the result.
Glad to see Virani becoming a more complete boxer. With her current skills, she was very very good but not championship materials. With this shift, she might win the championship.
Complete is always more of a threat. She’s still a puncher at heart, nothing will change that, but she might be able to shift gears every now and then.
Sonia makes me think of basics of cooking. Don’t try to either boil or fry a boot. It won’t turn into tender steak.
It’s a challenging task for Virani and it kinda gives Sandra the occasion to further mold her into the more complete fighter she wants her to be, in case she faces someone she can’t knock out. It makes her prematch comments about the matchup prescient.
Not that the work is easy. Ease the pressure a little bit on Sonia and you get nailed. She doesn’t appear to be the biggest puncher but I don’t think that any of her opponents can pretend that she gives love taps.
As Mechelle points out, the snake passes the test. Perhaps an important lesson learned about patience to avoid the pitfalls of punchers who occasionally try too hard.
Sonia may lack a bit in talent, but she makes it up in tenacity – and being as tough as old shoe leather.
You can see Sandra’s thought process playing out here. Have Virani get used to making adaptions in a fight of lower import. Virani is used to just blasting people and hoping that works. This is a new wrinkle to her.
But as you said, it’s not easy and its not immediate. There is a learning curve. But Virani is able to pass the test in the 8th. She just has to see out the last two rounds to claim victory. Though not in the way she would have wanted.
Jesus Sonia fox is tough as fuck! No matter what she lands on her she just won’t get hurt but to mention she has some good stamina to.
The jab game definitely isn’t the style V is comfortable with and it definitely shows.
It wasn’t a good round for Virani but she does a bit better in the 8th round, she needs to keep moving at tagging her and trying to switch things up. I actually find this new strategy a good thing to cause she needs to have more patient.
You know I’m starting to think Sandra picked Sonia for a good reason, and I feel it’s to test V to she has the patience to face against opponents like her, and I feel it might be working.
All she needs to do is keep Sonia away cause we know that she won’t stop coming, and V needs to avoid getting knocked out, I’m sure she’ll make it till the last round, really hope she doesn’t get knocked out cause that would suck…again lol
Virani struggled in the 7th but was better in the 8th for sure.
Sandra did pick Sonia for a reason, and I think she’s quite happy at the moment. We’ll have to see at the end though 😀
Virani hasn’t come close to getting knocked out in this one! Don’t get paranoid, my man! She hasn’t even really been hurt too badly. As far as Virani fights go, this one has been pretty smooth sailing (so far!)
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