Virani hits peak performance
The last two rounds of a very close title fight bring out nerves in the fans, commentators and the fighters themselves. They know that now, more than ever that one moment can completely shift the course of the fight.
Kasandra, having been dropped in the last round, feels a bit more urgency to try to impress Virani that she’s fully recovered even though she really hasn’t.
Kasandra jabs with a bit of urgency, hoping to both use it as a tool to accumulate points and as a way to set up the right hand. Virani has gradually got to terms with jab of the rangy Polish fighter throughout the fight. The challenger finds little success with that punch, although it does keep Virani on her toes.
Laila: “Sobieski’s jab was a big story coming into the fight, but gradually it’s been a tool that has been taken away from her. To win this fight, she’ll have to come into the danger zone of Virani. A dangerous thing, but it’s what a challenger must do to beat a champion.”
Kasandra steps in to the Cobra’s lair.
For a couple of moments, the two Toronto based fighters throw bombs, each loading up on big shots with the intention to change the course of the fight. The crowd raises in volume sensing that something big could happen shortly.
It does. After just missing with a right hand of her own, Virani takes advantage of the angle she has, shifts her weight and powers into a left hook that just slips over the shoulder of the taller fighter.
Laila: “Sobieski is hurt! That left hook rattled her!”
Kasandra can’t conceal that she is on shaky legs after taking that left hook from the Indian-Canadian champion. She stumbles and tries to back away to buy time. Time Virani does not want to grant her.
Virani closes the distance far faster than Kasandra expects, almost leaping in to a powerful overhand. Pink leather thunders on to Kasandra’s chin, the impact knocking Kasandra back as her head is rattled for a second time in close succession.
Sandra thinks: You can’t teach what Virani has. She’s a killer in that ring.
Challenger Down Again
Kasandra drops hard to the canvas, falling at the feet of the champion. Virani raises a single arm as she looks down at the fallen redhead.
Virani thinks: That is that. One of my best opponents, but she’s toast now.
The crowd roars at the violence act and potential finish only being seconds away.
Laila: “Sobieski collapses to the canvas after taking a right hand to the chin from the Canadian Cobra. A punishing shot comes seconds after a left hook that seemed to rattle her to her core. Sobieski has only been stopped once, but it could happen again her shortly.”
Virani goes to the neutral corner, while referee Clarissa Starling assesses the scene.
Clarissa thinks: Big knockown. Kasandra is clearly in trouble but she’s not out – plenty of time to make a decision.
Clarissa starts the count on the downed fighter.
The count seems to jolt the redhead back to life as she twists her way on to her side, not moving with much alacrity. The willpower to get up seems to be there despite taking two crunching punches from the hard punching champion.
Laila: “Sobieski is hurting, but she may not be out. She’s got five more seconds to get to her feet and convince the referee she is fit to fight. That is a tall task here.”
Kasandra thinks: Those punches hurt my grandparents. Not sure my legs have anything in them, but I’ll get up if I can.
Shocking most observers, Kasandra makes it to the ropes and uses them to start clambering to her feet. The redhead looks far less than 100%, but most people would have assumed that the fight was over after the knockdown. One observer of the action is Virani, who seems disheartened in the neutral corner.
Virani thinks: I hit her with everything. I can’t keep this girl down. I just can’t.
Clarissa: “8… 9… are you okay? Do you want to continue?”
The now vertical Kasandra nods in affirmation.
Clarissa: “Short leash, Sobieski.”
Kasandra again nods her understanding.
Virani, having experienced a bit of an adrenaline dump after assuming that she had won, comes at Kasandra. Her assault lacks intensity and conviction. Kasandra manages to get inside and grab a hold of Virani. Held tight, all the champion can do is wait for the referee to break it up, while Kasandra gets a well deserved rest.
Virani knows that she still has a chance to finish the fight if she can summon the energy to do so. A desperate Kasandra is in full survival mode. Her only thought is to hear that bell at the end of the round.
Laila: “MacVicar has Sobieski in the corner. A couple of solid punches will no doubt have Clarissa Starling rushing in to save the brave Bombel from taking any unneeded damage.”
For one of the few times in her career, Virani can’t find purchase on her punches. Kasandra bobs and weaves like a madwoman, making her a difficult target to get a clean connection on. Virani can’t manage it.
Both parties are surprisingly happy to see the hear the bell, and retreat to their corners for the least time in the fight.
Thomas: “Are you okay? Do you want me to stop it?”
Kasandra: “I didn’t get up to quit.”
Thomas: “You need the knockout. You need to get violent.”
Kasandra: “That’s not really my game.”
Thomas: “There’s nothing left in this fight except willpower and the desire to win. You’ve got a simple goal in front of you – knock out Virani MacVicar in the next three minutes. That’s it. If you want to be champion, that’s how you have to do it. I know you can do it. You know you can do it. You’ve watched Virani have the spotlight for all of these years. It’s your time now. Go right at her and leave nothing behind. Get her on the chin and she’ll collapse. I know it, because I’ve watched it. Time to be like Kayleigh Parsons. Close the show. Close her show. Start your era.”
Sandra: “Love that knockdown, hate that lack of follow through.”
Virani: “Not sure if I have much left. I’m a bit punched out.
Sandra: “You look it.”
Virani: “I’m up, right?”
Sandra: “Stay on your feet and you win. You might have to play spoiler here. A point deduction is a last resort, but you are probably up by enough to survive it. You just have to survive against a girl that you nearly knocked out.”
Virani: “I understand. I won’t let it slip.”
Sandra: “If you do, it’ll haunt you forever. Make sure you leave it all out there in the last three minutes. No regrets.”
Laila: “I have this fight nearly out of reach for Sobieski, as she is down 86-83 on my card. Scorecards don’t matter if you win by knockout though.”