Deep into the training camp for Virani’s second world title challenge, Sandra announces that she has a special traning partner – one that she has flown in specifically to bring the best out of the Canadian Cobra.
Just about in peak form before the fight, Virani has a good inkling of who might be coming by to help prepare for a critical fight and she’s not totally surprised to see the lovely, white clad form of Alesia Schumann, clad in all white and looking very much like a Disney boxing princess.
Virani: “Ally! It’s good to see you!”
Alesia: “You too my friend. Sandra asked me here to put the finishing touches on your rebuild. I couldn’t say no to that. I owe you for bossing me the last time we sparred.”
Virani: “Couldn’t leave it with me having the upper hand?”
Alesia: “I wouldn’t say that. Maybe I just need my dose of Cobra leather. To keep me sharp, of course.”
Virani: “I got that in spades. Satisfaction guaranteed.”
Sandra: “Ladies. I have a lesson that needs to be taught. You can chit chat later.”
Alesia: “I see you finally brought in a boss that runs the show.”
Virani: “I must have a thing for German blondes.”
The two get warmed up and get into the ring.
Alesia: “Today’s lesson is timing. You ever wonder how I have almost as many knockouts as you do?”
Virani: “I assumed you paid them to lose.”
Alesia: “Funny. Now remember our last sparring. Five rounds in the pocket. You were dominant from start to finish. I’m 15 pounds heavier but within range, you punched with more authority and outboxed me. I was fading in Round 5. That’s how you knock chicks out. How do I knock them out? Timing trumps everything. The right punch at the right moment. Using my opponent’s momentum to hurt them.”
Alesia: “Michaela is about fighting in that pocket. Same as you. So it’s a game of cat and mouse. Bait her, pick your spots and put that power on her chin at the right time. Now, name the situation in which a boxer doesn’t look vulnerable but still gets hurt.”
Virani: “Walking into a punch.”
Alesia: “10 points to Slytherin. It means accepting pressure to set up the counter. You might have to take a shot or two to land the one that hurts.”
Ally takes control of the round, throwing jabs to the body of Virani, who keeps a high guard. The German Diva keeps the same rhythm and tempo, letting the Canadian get the timing that she needs – but she does take a couple of proper jabs to the body to do so. Virani must be a patient hunter. The Canadian embraces the challenge.
But, as designed, Alesia goes back to the jab to the body one too many times and Virani lands a perfectly timed overhand right that catches Alesia right on the chin. The German emits a pained grunt. Virani drops her guard and lets Ally take a moment to recover.
Virani: “Most won’t be quite that predictable.”
Alesia: “You can make them be predictable by setting traps, though. It can be a multiple round thing. All a puncher like you needs is one punch to turn a fight.”
Virani: “I can’t afford to be that passive just for one punch.”
Alesia: “You have to play chess, but you can play checkers at the same time.”
Virani: “I think it was easier being a lawyer.”
Alesia: “Next lesson. Manipulate your opponent. Fake mistakes before turning her aggression into pain.”
It takes a few moments for Virani to craft a scenario that fits Alesia’s lesson plan. She is, after all, still in the ring with Alesia Schumann, a veteran opponent who did knock her out when they fought for real. Still, Virani manages to concoct a scenario that works.
Virani throws a jab that Alesia blocks high, and instead of returning it to it’s usual high guard position, Virani lets it casually drop. Taking the bait, Alesia tries to throw a right hand, but Virani quickly reset and connects with a left hook of her own that sends blonde braids flapping.
Virani feels confidence growing while Alesia can’t help but feel a bit of her confidence flagging. Yes, Alesia did get the better of Virani in their superfight, but lately the Canadian has had good success in their sparring.
Alesia: “Get physical. Disrupt me and punch when you have the advantage.”
Virani gets in close quarters with Alesia, often eating a jab from her to do so. In close, the German peppers her with punches. Frustrated more than anything, Virani reaches out and shoves Alesia. The move surprises The Diva, even when expecting some physical reply from the Canadian.
Off balance, Alesia loses her footing and Virani is not interested in playing a kind host, she resets and get a green hand into Alesia’s face, with some force behind it, crushing the visitor’s nose flat to her face for a moment.
The claret starts flowing from Alesia’s nose after that punch, and that is enough for a mean Cobra to back off. The German teacher isn’t done with her lesson, though.
Alesia: “Good job. I really felt that. Use these tactics to wear her down and she’ll get tired or frustrated. She’ll make mistakes and you’ll have a chance to knock her out.”
Virani: “Thanks. Though I think we should stop, your nose is running.”
Alesia: “That’s just the detail for my sparring outfit. But you are right.”
The two take off their gloves and step out of the ring.
Virani: “Sometimes you surprise me. Losing the previous sparring and admitting that I outbox you. Letting me practice moves today and taking the hits. There are people whose pride would be too stung.”
Alesia: “I’m a friend, not your A-side. I don’t mind being outboxed by you, actually. And no matter what happens…”
Alesia grins: “You’re still a psycho.”
Michaela Trains with Mechelle
In Germany, Michaela has her choice of sparring partners, but she reaches out to someone that she’s been in camp with before – the lovely Mechelle Gauthier! Mechelle has just entered the top 10 of the Featherweight rankings and is a good, competitive test for keeping the champion sharp.
Mechelle: “Thanks for inviting me. It’s an honour to be a part of the champion’s camp.”
Michaela: “No problem. I want to be sharp against Virani. I know how she fights so I’m not worried about picking up anything new, just keeping me at the level I need to be.”
Mechelle: “Your wish is my command.”
Though Mechelle seems like a polite visitor, she’s anything but an easy mark for the Featherweight champion. Told to imitate Virani’s punching style, she stays in the pocket, just out of reach of Michaela’s shorter reach, firing in punches when she gets the chance to get some violet leather on target.
Axel Plessner, Michaela’s coach, isn’t happy about the effort from the champion early on.
Axel: “Champions dominate in fight and sparring! Be better, Michaela!”
Struggling to break down the distance between the lankier Mechelle, Michaela is forced into shifting her tactics just a little. The champion adjusts her stance lower and changes her target for many of her punches – feinting high before throwing hard shots to the body. The more active champion throws Mechelle for a loop. She is more tentative throwing her own punches and that lets Michaela dictate the pace.
Gradually, the champion begins to find a home for her powerful hooks, ripping good punches to the body of her sparring partner.
One of these fighters is a champion and one is a lower ranked challenger for a reason. Michaela shows the gap in talent as she is able to land power punches on Mechelle almost at will. The Canadian tries her best, like always, putting up a stern test and never complaining about the tough punches she takes, but there’s simply a gap in talent that cannot be bridged by hard work or 100% effort.
It does keep the sparring session from getting stale as Mechelle never wilts from the pressure of the champion.
Axel thinks: Mechelle is the perfect sparring partner, good enough to not get run over, but not good enough to be a real threat and do damage to the ‘A’ side.
Towards the end of the session, a beautiful right hand from Michaela puts an emphasis on how one sided the rounds have become.
Axel: “Okay ladies – that’s enough. Mechelle, thank you for coming out. Your hard work is appreciated.”
Mechelle: “I’m just glad I’m not the one that actually has to fight Michaela.”
Michaela: “Aww, it’s not that bad. You did good.”
Mechelle: “You’re kind. In a real fight, I’d be left drooling on the canvas.”
Michaela: “Something tells me you don’t mind that.”
Mechelle: “I love the competition. But maybe when I fight, I want someone a little more on my level. Good luck against Virani, champ.”
Michaela: “Thanks, Mechelle, I appreciate it.”