Holm on the range
Holly Holm reclaims P4P crown & evens the score with Anne Sophie Mathis
Ringside report by Chris Cozzone and Gerardo Martinez
Photos by Chris Cozzone
They called it “The Reckoning,” but most expected a wrecking.
What a packed house of 3,000 got, last night at Route 66, west of Albuquerque, was the hometown champ’s repossession of the mythical pound-for-pound crown of women’s boxing.
After a severe beatdown at the heavy hands of France’s Anne Sophie Mathis, Holly Holm bounced back from the worst loss of her career to even the score by an undeniable unanimous decision.
But it wasn’t pretty.
Though there were no boos from the Holm-happy crowd, the fight was something between a “hug of war” and a track meet, with the challenger employing a very workable hit-and-hold, dive-and-dash game plan that left Mathis little opportunity to land the bombs that had Holm crashing to the canvas in 2011.
The 10-round welterweight fight, for WBAN’s belt, in addition to two minor league titles, capped a five-bout card promoted by Fresquez Productions.
Very little happened in the first. Mathis stalked and Holm appeared scared to death. The fright faded quickly to nervousness, and, as the rounds wore on, the anxiety disappeared altogether as Holm pocketed the points.
Holm opened up with a brief flurry in the second, then sealed the round with a big left before the bell. Mathis made the third round much closer. A wiz at cutting off the ring, Mathis closed the gap but ran into a bigger problem that plagued her the entire night – Holm’s hit-and-hold game. The Frenchwoman’s answer was to hit behind the head while tied up, but that only earned warnings from California referee Jon Shorle, whose only fault all night was in allowing so much holding by Holm.
During the fourth and fifth, Mathis found her way in and landed solid rights on Holm, who took the shots well. The best action of the fight was in the fifth, when the two freely exchanged for the first time. Holm was slightly shaken, but stirred enough to come back with body shots and straight lefts.
Holm took over in the sixth, catching Mathis coming in and skedaddling her way to either side before getting caught. If Mathis was lucky enough to land one shot, she was quickly held in place by Holm’s tentacles until the ref broke up the somewhat monotonous dance routine.
What was a hot pursuit became a desperate one as Mathis watched the sands in the hourglass trickle down the time. Frustration faded into fatigue as the altitude – and the chase – bore down on Mathis. In a desperate attempt to turn the fight around, Mathis landed big rights in the ninth – her best round, by far, and only truly convincing one – but Holm, rocked at least twice, held on, pushed away, and even rushed in for a flurry of her own during the round.
Mathis had no energy to repeat her success in the final round, and Holm continued to control the fight, hitting and holding her way to the final bell.
Unlike last week’s hideous outcome for Pacquiao-Bradley, there was little dissension with the scoring that came from out-of-town judges (Nevada’s Duane Ford, Dave Moretti and Lisa Giampa). Scores ranged from 99-91 to 97-93 to 96-94, all for Holm.
NewMexicoBoxing/Fightnews had it 98-92 for Holm.
“The game plan was what it was all about,” said Holm, now 31-2-3, 9 KOs. “I wasn’t going to stand there and brawl with her all night – she’s a knockout artist.
“But I do wish I would’ve thrown more. I had to play it smart.”
Mathis, now 26-2, 22 KOs, and losing for the first time in 17 years, accepted the loss but was not happy with Holm’s techniques.
“I have no problem with the decision, but that was not fighting or boxing,” said Mathis. “That was hugging.”
Mathis was irked by the size of the ring – 20x20 feet as opposed to the 18 footer used in the first fight. The contract, however, called for merely a “regulation size ring” – an oversight on the part of the Mathis camp. Mathis also claimed the altitude had an effect on her, though she’d been unable to arrive early enough to acclimate herself.
Mathis is asking for a third fight, this time in France, but promoter Lenny Fresquez says to “show me the money” first.
“This was the most important fight of my career, in terms of what I had to overcome,” said a tearful Holm. “I had a lot of fears and doubts coming into this, but this was the fight I wanted.”
What’s next for the returning pound-for-pound champ of women’s boxing?
“A vacation, a friend’s wedding, I don’t know,” laughed Holm. “I didn’t plan for anything past June 15.”
Albuquerque bantie Raymond “Hollywood” Montes (5-2, 4 KOs) is, either, the most amusing fighter to watch in New Mexico, or the most annoying. A South Valley incarnation of the muppet Gonzo, Montez should be, for the sake of entertainment, a mandatory addition to every local fight card.
Billing Montes, however, as a co-main on a card, against gutsy-but-overmatched Jaime Gutierrez (4-5), especially beneath a world class match-up like Holm-Mathis, might not be the best idea.
The actual fight was as bad as it appeared on paper.
Gutierrez made the mistake of trading punch for punch, or punch for punches, with Montes. Halfway through the opening round, Montes caught Gutierrez with a straight right and down he went for the count.
Official time was 1:37.
Cabral kabobs Silva
In a four-round welter bout, Albuquerque’s Cristian Cabral (3-0, 2 KOs) beat up on overmatched Socorro debuter Victor Silva (0-1) for three-and-a-half rounds.
Silva was in survival mode after an early knockdown in the first, and Cabral took his time, using his opponent as a heavy bag for much of the fight. Silva fought in spots, mainly slapping, while Cabral took a breather in the second.
The favored-to-dominate Duke City welter did Silva little favors in the third and fourth, however, trapping the Socorroite against the ropes and bombing him to his chunky midsection in the fourth until Ref Richard Espinoza took pity on the little fella, calling it quits at 1:27.
Perez outhustles Gonzales in feisty feather fight
In a four-round bout at 126, Belen debuter Gene “The Kid” Perez (1-0) outslugged Albuquerque’s Eric Gonzalez (1-2-1, 1 KO) for a shutout decision that was much closer than the scores indicated.
Fighting in the pocket through four rounds, Perez proved the faster, busier pug, bobbing, weaving and hurling all sorts of odd-angled punches at a somewhat befuddled Gonzalez.
Equally game, Gonzalez gave up his jab and entered Perez’s phone booth war, only to wind up on the wrong end of the shorter Belen bomber’s hooks. Gonzalez had ample success with a body attack but only at the expense of a bloody nose, courtesy of Perez’s wild hooks.
Perez tired in the third a bit, and they both wilted in the fourth, but Perez remained the busier to win with scores of 40-36 across the board.
Smileage vs. Mileage
In a difficult-to-watch bloodbath, lightweight John “Smiley” Herrera (2-3-1), of Roswell, battered, bled and beat up longtime veteran Bryan “Indio” Garcia (7-19, 2 KOs), of Santa Fe.
Always too game for his own good, Garcia was coming off a five-year layoff, which proved a pretty bad idea. Garcia, really a bantamweight during the peak of his career, had little ammo to wipe off “Smiley’s” grin. In fact, Smiley only smiled wider upon receiving Garcia’s pitty-pat love taps, then answered with a strong jab and a big right hand.
Garcia was bathed in blood by the third round and, instead of being saved by his corner or the ref, endured further undue punishment, only to lose with scores of 40-36 twice and 40-35, all for Herrera.
In between rounds, a two-man crew mopped up the blood-splattered canvas.
It took them ten minutes.
Sanchez-Youell revs up crowd in curtain raiser
In the opening bout, the best fight of the evening, Albuquerque welterweight Jose Luis Sanchez (1-0, 1 KO) entered the pro ranks with a TKO win over fellow debuter Guy Youell (0-1), of Farmington.
Sanchez was clearly the better boxer, but Youell came with strength and, by the somewhat cauliflowered ears, experience in the cage.
Sanchez learned the hard way. After exchanging blows in a crowd-pleasing slugfest, the Albuquerque kid found his way on the canvas at the end of the first chapter. Dazed and confused, Sanchez survived, then came out for the second, jabbing and boxing rather than slugging.
Unable to faze Youell, but taking back the fight, Sanchez pressed the action, landing body shots but having to dangerously duke it out with the slug-happy Farmington pug.
As the fight wore on, Sanchez’s amateur boxing experience won out and the wear-and-tear piled up on Youell. Driven back and staggered in the fourth, Youell went down, got back up, then was battered to the body against the ropes when the ref called it quits at 1:13, awarding the TKO win to Sanchez.