Holm Defeats Sanders
By Jim Dower: You got to feel for Mary Jo Sanders (25-1, 8 KOs). She came into Holly Holm’s (22-1, 6 KOs), showing the better boxing skills, and landing most of the cleaner shots by far in the 10-round fight, yet she came up short on a lopsided 10-round unanimous decision to Holmes, the IFBA International Female Boxing Association light middleweight champion, on Friday night at the Isleta Casino & Resort, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The final judges’ scores were 98-92, 98-92 and 97-93. I wasn’t all that surprised that Sanders lost the fight, since she was fighting in Holm’s how town in front of a large hostile crowd. However, I expected that if Sanders was going to be the subject of some home brewing, they’d at least make it somewhat close considering that Holm was getting out punched in almost every round of the fight.
Unfortunately, the judges’ didn’t get it right, perhaps influenced the large pro-Holm crowd. At any rate, I had Sanders easily winning the fight by eight rounds to two. She at least knew how to fight compared to the amateurish Holm, who spent most of the fight bouncing around on the outside, and occasionally charging forward with her head down like a bull. That’s essentially how Holm fights, that is, rushing forward and throwing punches. It looked bad to watch and most of the time she missed badly with her punches as she came forward.
Before the fight started, Holm paced around back and forth, looking extremely agitated, and not entirely together. She then started bouncing around almost endlessly. I got tired just watching her do it, and she seemed to be tiring herself out before the bout even started. She needed someone to tell her to keep together, because she seemed to be coming unglued before the first punch was even thrown. I didn’t know what to expect of her judging from this odd pre-fight ritual, thinking maybe that she might pounce on Sanders or something and try to take her out immediately.
However, when the fight started, I was disappointed immediately in Holm, because she mostly bounced around, moving side to side and avoiding the big shots from Sanders. At that, she was only partially successful because Sanders was able to cut off the ring frequently and tag Holm with big shots to the head. For her part, Holm did little other than a couple of wild charges forward while flailing her hands in front of her as she ran.
Unlike some other fighters that fight in this manner, like Manny Pacquiao, Arthur Abraham and Marco Huck, Holm was not effective at all because she would often lower her head so that she had no idea where he punches were going. As one would expect, Holm couldn’t hit the side of the barn in these wild attacks. Sanders, though, not used to fighting an opponent as clumsy as Holm, did the best she could at hitting a moving target, often tagging her as she would come in or as she came running by.
In rounds two and three, Sanders continued dominating Holm, tagging her frequently as she would come flying forward with her wild charges. When Holm was rushing forward, she was mostly running around on the outside, bouncing constantly and looking not quite with it. The bouncing made her seem more than a little unhinged, as it served no other purpose than a distraction from the fighting. It wasn’t as if she was hitting Sanders while bouncing around and for the life of me, I couldn’t see why she was doing it. As far as I could tell, Homes had come close to winning none of the rounds during the first three rounds.
In rounds four through six, Sanders landed well with huge combinations, catching Holm in the face often and turning her face red. After tasting a lot of right hands from Sanders, Holm began to use more lateral movement, trying to prevent Sanders from cornering her. At the same time, Holm’s poor accuracy got even worse as she seemed to miss almost everything that she threw in her wild charges.
The pro-Holm crowd didn’t seem to care, cheering madly for her regardless of how often she missed her shots. In the 6th round, Holm fought well enough for me to give her the round – the first round which I saw her winning. Even then, it was really close, with Sanders landing both the cleaner and harder shots in the round. In most situations, I would normally have scored the round for Sanders, but with the loud racket that the crowd was making, screaming constantly for every punch that Holm attempted, I just knew that the judges’ wouldn’t give the round to Sanders. I was right, they didn’t give it to her.
Rounds eight and one weren’t even remotely close, as Sanders landed well, stalking Holm and tagging her frequently with big sweeping shots to the head. For her part, Holm continued with the maddening bouncing around, looking like she was on trampoline, bouncing to nowhere. She did at least try a little harder in both rounds, rushing forward constantly, flailing her arms and missing by a foot or so with every punch. At the start of the 9th, Holm tacked Sanders to the canvas, landing on top of her and flattening her in the process. That was perhaps her finest moment of the fight, because at least in respect she showed excellent form.
In the 10th round, Holm spent the entire round charging after Sanders over and over again reminding me a little of large dog going after a piece of meat. Sanders did the best she could countering Holm was she would rushing in, but she did get hit on more than a few occasions in the round. It’s unfortunate that she didn’t have the presence of mind to side step Holm and tag her as she came rushing by. I guess the thought didn’t occur to her, but it will to someone in the future who gets a shot at Holm.
All in all, a terrible fight and an even worse decision by the judges. If I wanted to be kind, I could see Holm winning three rounds, but no more than that. She was simply getting hit too many times by hard shots in every round, while at the same time mostly missing her own shots. Like I said earlier, you got to feel bad for Sanders, who ended up losing for the first time in her career by a dubious decision.