A fighter hits the canvas as the intensity steps up a notch
Round 8 of this championship fight begins with the ringing of a bell.
The fighters in the ring would like to ring their opponent’s bell, however.
Following her coach’s instructions to the letter, Virani loads up a lot more on her punches. In the early part of the round, she has what she believes to be a good opening after forcing Kasandra towards one of the neutral corners. The Cobra reaches back for some extra power in those pink weapons of hers, but by the time she springs forward, Kasandra is able to move to block, smartly putting her shoulder in the way and causing it to miss its target.
Laila: “If you find defence sexy, then you’ll be very excited to just have watched that confident display of boxing from Kasandra Sobieski, defending a rocket of a right hand with just a well placed shoulder. To get that right is a work of art.”
Virani thinks: I need a breakthrough, a signature moment. I have to make it happen. She isn’t just going to let me.
It’s a frustrating round for both fighters, as both are really looking for that one moment. Both are fighters that are used to doing significant damage with their hands and they largely haven’t in this fight.
Virani again backs Kasandra up with some solid footwork and the Polish fighter feels the pressure. She plants her feet to throw, but is beaten to the punch by a lancing overhand right. Kasandra’s right hand fails almost as it is thrown, disrupted by the savage power of Virani’s vaunted left hook.
Laila: “After that big shot, Kasandra seems to be hurt!”
The durable Polish fighter is indeed shaken for the first time in the fight. She tries to move forward to clinch and hold, but Virani smartly pushes her off, her veteran senses telling her that this is no time for a breather.
Addled and still seeing stars, Kasandra turns and tries to escape, but Virani smartly finds the space for another pink missile. This one meets no resistance as Virani punches down on the crouching challenger, spinning her head with the power of the punch.
Sandra: “You got her, champ!”
Struck by two thunderbolts, Kasandra falls backwards and into the ropes, a dazed and pained expression on her face. Virani’s left hand is cocked for more punishment but with the challenger on the canvas, the time for legal punches is over.
Laila: “Sobieski is down! The power of MacVicar on full display in this critical 8th round. We’ll see if she can recover from taking those punishing hits – The Canadian Cobra’s career is littered with those who could not.”
Virani retreats to the neutral corner while Clarissa Starling comes in to start the count.
Thomas: “Take your time. Compose yourself!”
Kasandra doesn’t have too much time to compose herself, as she extricates herself from her butt and on to one knee. By the count of seven, Kasandra looks ready to continue.
Kass thinks: That was like being beaten over the head with a steel chair, fucking OW! I’m not done yet, though.
Laila: “Sobieski has regained enough of her senses to get on to one knee, but it’s always that first attempt to stand that can surprise. Sometimes, a hurt fighter is not aware of how gone her legs can actually be.”
Kasandra stands at the count of eight and puts her gloves up, indicating her readiness to continue the fight.
Clarissa: “Okay, do you want to continue?”
Kasandra: “I do.”
Clarissa: “Alright, ready and… box!”
Virani MacVicar has a plethora of knockouts to her name, and she’s as lethal a finisher there is in the division. She knows Kasandra’s still hurt and that a few more well-placed punches will either have the challenger down or convince the referee to stop the fight.
With Kasandra’s legs not at 100%, the Pole makes a decision – she has to stand and fight. Not something that she really wants to do at moment, but something she must do.
The Cobra approaches the wounded ‘Bombel’ and is greeted not by a capitulation, but by a crisp left hook, one that smashes cleanly into the jaw of the champion.
Laila: “Sobieski is clearly not 100%, but she’s bit down on her gumshield and is willing to exchange hands with Virani. It’s bold, it’s desperate and at the moment, it’s working.”
Though temporarily stymied by the combative Polish fighter, Virani’s too experienced and frankly, too vicious, to be kept at bay for long. The Champion forces her way into close quarters combat with the weakened foe. Kasandra does what she can to mitigate the damage, but there’s no stopping a hungry Cobra for long.
As Kasandra does her best to protect her head, Virani ends up targeting the body, landing some savage punches as Kasandra bobs and weaves to try to cover up from the worst of the attack.
Laila: “Sobieski is surviving well, but that is all she’s able to do at the moment. Virani’s been doling out the punishment here late in the round. That’s going to have an effect late in this fight.”
Though Virani does damage, she cannot knock down the defiant Polish fighter before the bell.
Laila: “The champion has been pushed hard this fight, but she has found the answer here in Round 8. The challenger now faces an uphill battle.
Sandra: “That round was what champions are made of. She’s hurt, and I don’t want her to recover.”
Virani: “She’s still got strength. Not out of it.”
Sandra: “I’m not saying she’s on her last legs or anything. Just to keep the pressure up.”
Virani: “That takes a lot out of me, too.”
Sandra: “It’s the ninth round of a championship fight. You’re supposed to be tired.”
Virani: “Reminder to knock my opponents out early in fights. It’s easier.”
Sandra: “No time like the present.”
Thomas: “Sit. Relax. How are you feeling.”
Kasandra: “Not great, Tom.”
Thomas: “It’s not going to get easier from here. I won’t sugarcoat it. Virani’s going to come at you and try to get the finish. That’s just what’s going to happen. You’ve got to meet her and get her respect, otherwise she’ll run you over.”
Thomas: “We need both of these rounds, Kass. I can’t put it more simply than that. We need them. Don’t let it slip. It’s in your grasp still.”