The bell has rung and the action begins.
Emma claims the center of the ring off the start and Namid keeps her distance. ‘Shining Owl’ isn’t particularly interested in going toe to toe with the stockier, stronger Emma, but prefers to keep her distance and dart in when she feels like she can strike.
It makes it the opening part of the round a bit of a feeling out process. Emma wants to work in close and Namid wants to stay outside, but neither wants to over commit early in the fight and make a big mistake.
Emma keeps a high guard and feints and fakes, trying to draw a reaction out of Namid. The Chippewa fighter uses a long, rangy jab to keep Emma at bay and on her toes.
Laila: “Bit of a cagey start, wouldn’t you say?”
Thea: “In high stakes fights like this, all that shows is that these two fighters are thinkers, not just fighters. It may take a while for fireworks to develop.”
For the majority of the round, Emma has to chase down Namid, but she is able to take advantage of a rare misstep in her footwork to pressure her into the ropes. For the first time, Emma is able to work from her preferred distance, and while Namid fights admirably, Emma is able to land those short, quick punches in close that her last few opponents struggled with.
To top off a dominant part of the round, Emma is able to sneak in a good, sharp uppercut as she sneaks to the right to give herself an angle to punch. Namid takes it on the chin, but she doesn’t enjoy her time in close with Emma.
Laila: “Thea, what makes Emma McGale so effective in close?”
Thea: “One is strength. Emma’s upper body is so much stronger it’s no contest. The other, is actually balance. Some fighters struggle to keep themselves balanced and keep their punch fundamentals sound when space is constricted. Emma knows how to punch through a target, even from tight spaces. It’s the mark of a technically sound fighter.”
Namid spends the majority of the round engaged in a tactical retreat from Emma. She wants to keep the English-Canadian fighter away, but Emma’s constant pursuit makes it difficult for her to set her feet and establish anything.
Realizing that she has Namid on the backfoot both figuratively and literally, Emma launches a right hand from an unusually long distance away – a move the could be countered if only her opponent had the time to do so. Namid figured she was at a safe distance, so she had dropped her hands for a moment, only to realize that Emma’s pink Paffen’s can still find her jaw and chin. It’s not the biggest impact, but it sends a message.
Laila: “McGale has really bossed this round over the veteran Namid Henderson.”
Thea: “Some people would pay good money to get bossed by Emma McGale.”
Laila: “I’m not even going to go there.”
In between rounds, the veteran Namid is read the riot act by her coach, Jennifer Picardie, though it is mostly unnecessary. She knows the first round was a disaster and if it keeps being repeated, she won’t make it to the final bell.
The visiting fighter doesn’t change tactics, but she begins to execute her plan more effectively. It starts off early in the round as Emma steps in to close the distance and throw a right hand, Namid turns and unleashes a long right hand that catches Emma square in the face, drawing a grunt of pain from the English-Canadian fighter.
Thea: “If I was Namid’s coach, that is exactly what I want to see – using space to punish Emma every time she even thinks about stepping into range.”
A strong start doesn’t necessarily deter Emma from executing her gameplan, nor will a few good moments from her opponent.
The next time Emma is able to get inside, Namid executes the second part of her plan – she also steps in close, contracting the difference between the two unexpectedly. Namid doesn’t intend to punch with Emma in close, she knows that’s a path to a short night, but she does contain Emma in a more direct manner, putting her in a loose headlock and forcing a break.
Sandra: “Ref! Warn her!”
Victoria: “Hey. Keep it clean, okay?”
Sandra thinks: If this referee is going to let Namid control Emma like that and not warn her, this is going to be a longer night than I wanted it to be.
Emma isn’t the type of fighter that likes to wait too much for her chances. She wants to create and is a bit flummoxed by Namid refusing to engage. She begins to reach and almost leap with her punches, but Namid judges the range adequately and uses her long frame to lean back and away from the incoming punch.
Laila: “Emma McGale is struggling to get her offence going here in the second round. Namid Henderson is controlling by taking Emma out of her comfort zone. It’s not making for the most exciting fight, but Henderson is showing her skills in this round.”
Thea: “That’s why no one wants to fight Namid. Because she’s good, and she makes for a boring fight.”
Late in the round, Emma thinks there is a chance to steal the round, if she can simply make an impression with a few seconds to go. The former Canadian Featherweight champion forces Namid backwards before throwing a one-two combination, hoping an emphatic right hand will win her the round. Unfortunately for her, Namid avoids both punches. Before Emma can reset herself, the Chippewa nation fighter lands a crisp left hand in reply.
Laila: “That will just about conclude a strong round for Namid Henderson here. We got to see in the second why ‘Shining Owl’ is an avoided figure in this division – she is not very fun to fight against.”
Thea: “Emma’s going to have to step up her game here. This is the first fighter she’s faced that won’t stand in front of her.”
DING! The second round is over. Both fighters go to back to their corners for advice from their coaches.
Jennifer: “Much better round there. You’ve got her guessing now.”
Namid: “Yeah. She’s not used to someone being evasive in there.”
Jennifer: “We’ll need more of that. Remember, never pull straight back, and if you feel yourself getting trapped, step into her quickly and grab her to force the break. We fight at our range and no one else’s. Clear?
Namid: “Got it. Anything else you see?”
Jennifer: “I see she’s very good, but try to time up a shot or two. You can catch her flush. That’ll get her attention.”
Emma: “That was annoying. It’s like trying to catch a fly.”
Sandra: “It’s a matter of persistence. I need you to be a little less predictable when you are trying to close the space. We talked about how to use your feet – I need you to be constantly cutting off the ring. No excuses, otherwise you are just wasting energy.”
Sandra: “But, I’ll say it again you can’t be predictable. If you are just chasing her around, she’ll time you with a punch and that won’t be pretty. Remember to move your head. Give her a different look. Feint. Fake. She’s watching you like a hawk and just waiting to counter. Don’t let her be the hunter.”
Emma: “I understand.”
Excellent showcase of the classic outside fighter vs inside fighter matchup win these first two rounds. People can call Namid’s style boring all they want. The aim of the sport is to hit and not get hit and her style fits the bill perfectly. I tend to prefer outside fighters because they can force the opponent to either sit there and get their head batted around, or force them exert energy and concentration to try and get inside through feints, misdirection and bursts of energy which can tire a fighter out the longer a contest goes. Plus, they can always grab on and tie the inside fighter up as Jennifer has already recommended to Namid.
That is not to say that the out-boxer cannot be solved… They absolutely can and Emma/Sandra seem to have a gameplan in mind.
People would prefer a Mexican style showdown of two fighters going toe to toe until one of them falls down. But boxing has all sorts of styles and while Namid’s may not be exciting, it is good boxing.
The outside boxer can be a tricky foe, just think of someone like Pernell Whittaker or the great Ali – they dominated with speed and defence, but could also hurt you when you tried to change the tempo.
Discipline is needed from Emma. She needs to impose herself if she wants to win rounds.
With that headlock, Namid may want to consider getting a pro wrestling gig on the side. Even has the nickname for it too as the hunter. Based on what Sandra said, Emma will need to cut off Namid on offense just like the Buffalo Bills did to the Tennessee Titans last year. Turn the hunter into a frightened gazelle, and then make the tranquilizing shot to the face that Emma is known for. Emma might not be used to this speed, but there is always a flaw sooner or later when it comes to how a boxer moves in the ring. Similar to a jungle, however, Emma has to watch for pre-made traps that the hunter will set out for her all over the environment. I got a feeling at least one of those traps will entangle her and potentially leave her stuck on the ring mat if it is harsh enough.
Sandra’s right that she can’t let Namid dictate the pace and the place of the fight. You are right though – no boxer is perfect and none go without making a mistake in a fight – but trying to force a mistake is also a good idea!
Man. Me being the only person to have commented here shows something. Precisely why y’all got blocked from commenting on my posts.
Sorry, I got busy yesterday.
Pfft, tell your job and family that this site is more important then that! 😀
Was busy yesterday and today, just need time to relax , I’m not gonna stop commenting but gonna do it all the time
I’m not worried 😀
I am used to you being one of the first commentators, so your absence is missed 😀
Not a bad start at all by Namid but not being stable on your feet and having Emma invade your space is a dangerous. Here are some online reviews:
Mechelle: “I had to be saved by the ref.”
Alesia: “She punched me so hard I didn’t remember the action.”
Takara: “She rearranged my face AND sent me out of the ring!”
These three got it for free. Namid now has to fight better or choose being “managed”.
We get a good reaction in Round 2. Elusiveness, good countering. A little holding to delay the insider. A somewhat friendly ref. I have a feeling that a composed Namid can really wear a fighter down.
Coaching instructions are logical. The question is: who is able to make the best adjustments?
Namid and Emma both have their moments in these two rounds – and there’s warning signs for both.
As you pointed out, Namid getting bullied by Emma in close means that she can be the 4th in 4 person to leave a positive review on the Emma McGale review page.
Namid is much stronger in the 2nd round – elusive, controlling space and fighting her fight.
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