Taylor Grant flattens her challenger
Almost anyone who wears a pair of boxing gloves to face Taylor Grant is in for an uphill battle. Julia Rose has not only to remain on her feet but to hit the Lightweight world champion. Somehow.
The Arizonian’s mission is to do what many underdogs have to do against more talented favourites: getting inside and taking the body. It’s a traditional way to slow your opponent down, and landing punches is a good way to prevent one-way traffic.
The resilient black-haired challenger applies herself with surprising effectiveness. By staying close, she smothers the fast puncher’s hands, which are most dangerous when used at full reach.
The girl in blue gets bold after 30 seconds of this. She lets a left hook from Peppermint miss before hammering her ribcage.
A little more of this makes the challenger feel like someone who’s ending a fast with much-needed calories. She feels an energy rush to further take the fight to the champion.
Julia’s good spell extends to the second half of the round, with her blue gloves getting in close range to land body shots and short punches to the head. The experienced Taylor looks to hold on but the daring opponent hits her midsection with a left uppercut before she gets caught into the clinch.
Hungry for a solid fight, the crowd provides the daredevil with vocal support.
Jim: “Boxing fans love the fighters who refuse to quit. Rose is treating them to that spectacle and Taylor Grant the sort of punishment she may not have expected.”
Warren: “Her inside fighting techniques are spot-on. There’s a good understanding of space and timing and Grant hasn’t found the answer to that yet.”
The hardest task for a pugilist who finds sudden success is to not get overly enthusiastic. Trying too hard means throwing the extra punch that leaves you exposed against a favourite who is under pressure to react.
Smartly, Taylor pulls back a bit to slow down the onslaught. On the pursuit, Julia wants to punish her further by going back upstairs. At more favourable range, the white-haired destroyer can decode the motion and crunch the challenger with a huge right on the counter.
PISH! The crowd swings back to the champion.
Clocked hard, Julia reminds herself of the importance of being a little more patient. Taylor executes a new game plan in Round 5 by maintaining distance and letting her opponent attack. The blue gloved girl can’t be leading on the scorecards and the responsibility to take risks is hers.
Finding a balanced approach is very difficult in that situation, with an elite and hard punching opponent looking to force a mistake that could lead to a knockout in no time.
The forced error comes rather early in the round. Stepping back, the girl in green and white watches a right cross miss before the hand drops. She pivots to deliver a heavy-duty left hook with her knuckles landing squarely in Julia’s jaw. PAFF!
Jim: “Rose is hurt! She’s stumbling after taking this perfectly crafted punch!”
Does Peppermint try to ice her opponent immediately? No, because ‘hurt’ doesn’t always mean ‘ready to go’. She keeps her eyes on the prize and remains focused with laser-sharp reflexes to circle around the black-haired woman.
Eager to fight back, Julia attacks again. By letting her hands go, she convinces referee Akane Watanabe that there’s still a fight in this dog.
Under pressure, Taylor makes slick defensive moves to dodge incoming punches.
Warren: “Rose survives, at least for now. At the same time, we are witnessing a technical boxing clinic by Grant, who is waiting for her chance to spring into action again.”
The challenger keeps taking the fight to the champion, which might even promise stealing the round if judges score it purely on aggression.
Mistakes come back to haunt you if you’re taking risks against a more accomplished boxer. Julia walks into a right cross while going in. A little shaken, she tries to tighten up the guard and that’s exactly when Taylor detects an opportunity. Using the natural gift of hand speed, she unloads a left hook to Julia’s liver.
The most effective single punch in boxing has its effect. Not only is the boxer from Phoenix hurt – she’s reeling and stepping back to buy time. There’s none of it available on the market right now with the New Orleans girl sniffing the occasion to finish.
Julia brings her hands up to protect in a low stance. The problem is that she becomes a bit passive in trying to slow the action down. Given the freedom to throw any punch she likes, Taylor hammers Julia’s body, face and gloves until it forces an opening in the middle.
When that space shows up, she charges with a right cross down the pipe. PISH!
The crowd gasps as it watches Julia’s entire body fall back due to a massive impact.
What happens next is a moment that Julia won’t like to see on replay. She loses her footing, making her fall accelerate until her back hits the bottom rope before slipping under it and hitting the edge of the canvas.
The crowd roars.
Jim: “This has to be it, folks! It’s only January and we may have just witnessed the most brutal knockout punch of the year!”
The fastest referee in the Far West, Akane Watanabe, doesn’t need to think twice. She knows that what Julia needs now is attention from her coach and the ringside doctor.
Jim: “What a spectacular finish that was. Taylor Grant scores a crunching knockout in her first Lightweight title defense, for a stylish finish.”
Warren: “She isn’t only winning but sending a strong signal to all potential opponents: I’m dangerous.”
As instructed by the referee, Julia’s coach and the ring doctor get inside to take care of her. Taylor waits respectfully for her defeated opponent to recuperate and get up under a round of applause. Then, she can celebrate victory.
Ring announcer: “At 1:34 in Round 5, we have a winner. With a spectacular knockout, she is STILL the Lightweight champion of the world… ‘Peppermint’ Taylor Graaaaaaannnnnnnnttttt!”
In a post-match interview, the champ shows some grace.
Taylor: “First, I want to thank Julia for taking the match. It’s physically risky to face me at this point of my career and she came in here. She will forever have my respect.”
In response to the rematch with Sophie Schumann:
Taylor: “We’ll do this. I expect her to come back as an even bigger monster but I’ll be ready for it. She’ll have to be willing to leave everything in the ring. All we need is to negotiate a fair deal. And thanks y’all for your support tonight.”