Bloody Holly Holm

Holly Holm’s KO Fight Has Dangerous Ref (and Bad Corner)

The Holly Holm (30-2-3, 9-KOs) vs Anne Sophie Mathis (26-1, 22-KOs) “World Dominance” fight is bothering me, and it should bother everyone with a stake in professional boxing.

Both of these phenomenal, world-class boxers fought well and did absolutely nothing wrong. However, referee Rocky Burke and Holm’s corner were not only neglectful, but dangerous.

Holm is a punch-and-move technical boxer with tremendous foot speed, and Mathis is an out-and-out powerhouse brawler with a knockout right. It was an outstanding match-up, and the first five rounds were incredible.

In the fifth, Holm seemed to move less and trade more bombs, and the damage began to pile up on her. The ref called Mathis for rabbit punches (which can take a serious toll), but that was apparently his last good call.

In the sixth, Mathis dropped Holm to the canvas, and after FAILING to issue a count, the ref let a weaving, disoriented Holm face further mauling from Mathis.

At the bell, Holm’s corner had their first opportunity to make a exit plan, but they didn’t, as far as I can tell.

The seventh round was a travesty — not at all what good boxing should be.

Holm had no more legs, and mostly swayed and staggered, with her head drooping and guard wide, just taking shot after shot from Mathis.

At one point Holm was beat back into the ropes and actually became entangled, hanging drunkenly as Mathis ripped into her, tearing open a gash on her cheekbone before the ref finally made his way over to help Holm out of the ropes, propping her upright and signaling the fighting to resume.

Mathis unleashed two rights in a row on the incoherent Holm, putting her through the ropes and nearly onto the judges’ table. She was pushed back into the ring where she rolled to her side, completely limp, blood streaming from her face.

In the photo below you can see that Holm is still having to hold herself up by draping an arm over the ropes, even as she finally receives attention from her team.

Mathis behaved impeccably. There was no jeering, parading, or trumpeting over the fallen Holm. Mathis won the fight and deserves the title; of that there is no question.

Holm did her best to do what her inattentive corner left her in there to do. I can understand their decision to let it go in the sixth, but why they allowed their fighter to be brutalized in the seventh, when she clearly couldn’t protect herself, return a shot, or even hold herself upright, is unimaginable.

The ref failed her utterly. I don’t even have words for him.

Holly’s post-loss press video is heartbreaking…

The fiasco has garnered some press, but of course since it’s a women’s fight there won’t be nearly the outrage that there should be.

The thing I’m most curious about is what Holm’s conversations with her trainers and corner were like, in the privacy of their own gym, after the initial devastation of the fight was past…

I hate when fights are called too early, but in this case there was no doubt in my mind that serious mistakes were made, and that a fighter’s life was needlessly endangered, both by the ref and by the corner.

I know boxing is a tough sport, and people get hurt. But there’s a line, and this one went well past it.

What do you think?

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62 Responses to Holly Holm’s KO Fight Has Dangerous Ref (and Bad Corner)

  1. Amy Scheer December 8, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    I’m beyond disturbed by this.

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe December 8, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

      I know this happens in men’s fights once in a while, and it bothers me then, too…

      How do you feel about the rematch? What do you think these boxers are saying to themselves and their trainers?

  2. DaveG December 8, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    This is a disgrace to the sport, the ref should have called it, the corner should have thrown in the towel. Allowing the fight to continue at 3:35 is borderline insane. He should be severely sanctioned for endangering the fighter’s life, no doubt about it.

    In other tragic news: http://www.boxingscene.com/roman-simakov-passes-away-tragic-knockout-loss–47006
    Videos of the fight can be found in the comment section, he took some serious hits in the 6th round, went down after a couple of light punches in the 7th and never recovered, slipped into a coma. And that fight was nowhere as one-sided as the final round in the video you posted!

    I think I’d prefer a ref that calls it way too early than one then calls it a little too late.

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe December 8, 2011 at 5:55 pm #

      I’ve seen them called too early, and that can be frustrating, but you’re right — better safe than sorry.

      Right now if you google “fights that should have been stopped” the Holm-Mathis fight is two of the top 3 results.

      I can’t think of any other women’s pro fight that falls in this category. A sad first for us…

  3. Peter Egley, Jr. December 9, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

    I’ve never boxed but been a boxing fan for many years. I hope you’re wrong about “since it’s a women’s fight there won’t be nearly the outrage that there should be.” I agree with most everything you’ve expressed, though. You’re right, obviously, “boxing is a tough sport, and people get hurt.” It doesn’t matter the gender of the boxer. Anyway, as a boxing fan I’m glad that you are speaking out like this. I’ve a feeling that those who are more a part of the boxing establishment would rather not kick up too much dust.

  4. Hillari Hunter December 11, 2011 at 3:13 pm #

    I agree with your assessment of that fight, Lisa. Both the referee and Holm’s corner were extremely non-observant, and that’s just not acceptable in amateur or professional fights. People will always complain about fights being stopped, but I’d rather see a boxer walk out of the ring instead of being carried out.

  5. Lisa Creech Bledsoe December 11, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

    A small update to the situation, everyone: There is at least a tiny bit more press now. I’m glad at least a few people are discussing the matter, rather than ignoring it entirely. The Albuquerque Journal ran this:
    http://www.abqjournal.com/sports/2011/12/11/referee-in-holm-bout-now-taking-punches.html

    I’d still like to see WBAN.com (at the very least) run something, since they are the primary website for women’s boxing.

    Incidentally, Fresquez (Holly’s promoter) is mentioned in the ABQ Journal as saying that the Holm camp will forgo the contractually required rematch clause and allow Mathis to face next-in-line Norwegian contender Cecilia Braekhus (19-0-0).

    In my mind, this is a smart move by the Holm camp — let Holly have more healing time and give her another fight with someone else before coming back around to the rematch…

    And the Braekhus-Mathis fight will be an incredible one. Too bad we probably won’t get to see it on television or streaming online…

    • Amy Scheer December 11, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

      I read the article, and all I can say in response is
      –congrats to you on being mentioned
      –as for Burke’s comment that only Jesus doesn’t make mistakes, WWJD? I doubt he would have “let fighters fight” in the same manner.

      • Lisa Creech Bledsoe December 11, 2011 at 6:46 pm #

        Re: Burke’s comment — I know refs traditionally do not respond to comments about their performance, and I’m certain they get plenty. It’s part of the deal, when you become a high-profile professional referee.

        So I was surprised to read what he said, and the only thing I can take away from his odd comment is that it’s a sideways admission that yes, he does make mistakes.

        Of course he does; we all do. However, a straightforward admission of that — specifically with regard to the Holm-Mathis fight — would go a long way toward making it a little bit better.

  6. Lisa Creech Bledsoe December 12, 2011 at 12:11 pm #

    I just received an email from pro boxer Austin “Killer” Killeen (5-1-0), who wrote a letter to the editor of the ABQ Journal, which he also sent to me. I asked his permission to reprint the letter here, and he kindly agreed. — Lisa

    Referee Rocky Burke made the front page of the sports section on Sunday and the headline was spot on. Since December 2 Rocky has become a piñata for his critics on the information highway. I’ve been watching his work in the ring since first coming to New Mexico five years ago. I feel he’s one of the best referees in the country, fair and honest who believes the fighters not the third man should determine the outcome of a bout.

    When introduced before a fight, he does not salute the camera, or have a trademark quote during fighter instructions. He does not believe people pay to see the referee; they pay to see a competitive match where rules are followed. He controls the action with his voice, using clear and concise one word commands. He rarely touches the boxers and allows a pugilist employing any style equal chance of success.

    This was backed up at last week’s post fight press conference, when both Holm and Mathis stated the referee had no bearing on the outcome of the match. It is easy to sit in the comfort of your living room or an arena seat and second guess an official. It is an entirely different situation to be the one responsible for making a split second decision during a sporting event.

    Rocky Burke has never been afraid to make a judgment during a match; whether a four rounder or the main event. As a result he makes thousands of judgments each year. I have never had the pleasure of meeting a person who has never made a mistake and I’m sure Rocky would never claim to be that person.

    When Rocky Burke enters the ring he is professional, well groomed, alert and physically fit. His previous work speaks for itself. It would be a shame if critics with 20/20 vision in hindsight and the benefit of instant replay, destroyed the reputation of an excellent referee.

    Austin Killeen

    • Adam Welsh January 6, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

      Is this the same Austin Killeen who wrote the report of the Holm-Mathis fight on the Holly Holm website?

  7. Hillari December 12, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

    I just noticed in my last post in my blog, I had your name as Linda instead of Lisa (beating my head on the keyboard). I’m sorry, Lisa! I have since corrected it!

    Eh. . .I guess Austin Killeen and myself will have to disagree about Rocky Burke.

  8. Peter Crawford December 15, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

    I contribute nervously to tjhis fascinating debate, being a stranger from far away. But may I suggest that you, Lisa, are being a little hard on that referee. You are an amateur, in the true sense of the word – you box for pleasure, for fun: the self-discipline of the training, the comradeship of the gym, the anticipation of the upcoming fight, the excitement of the fight itself, and if fortune smiles on you, the pride of winning. But a professional boxes for money and for fame. The job is a tough one – seven or ten rounds is of a completely different order from three. But the job is done to please the crowd.which has paid good money to watch a fight and expects to get its money’s worth (this doesn’t say much for boxing crowds, of course, but that is a different issue). The professional referee should stop the fight only if one of the boxers is hopelessly outclassed – which Holm clearly was not – or if she is in danger of serious injury – which the post-fight interview showed that she was not. When it seemed that she might in fact be in danger the referee rightly intervened to stop the fight. The video seemed to me to show that he did so at just the right moment. Holm was exhausted, but not injured. In the interview she was disappointed, of course, but otherwise well. And, of course, her seconds, who were in the best postion to judge, being right there and not just looking at a video must have thought she was OK. Many an evenly matched fight, as this one was, has been won by a rally in the last round..

    I must apologise for this inordinate (that’s a good word!) length – I seem to have allowed myself to be carried away.

    Peter

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe December 16, 2011 at 10:16 am #

      Hi, Peter — thanks for taking the time to comment. It’s good to hear a variety of voices here…

      I agree with you that this was a good match and not a mismatch, and you’re right in that a pro fight is very different from an amateur fight. And the crowds pay to see the good stuff.

      However, I wouldn’t judge whether Holm was ever in danger in the fight by the post-fight interview, but by the actual fight. I felt that Rocky made a mistake in not giving an 8 count when Holly was first knocked down, and later, in the last round, he let her take two massive rights when she clearly couldn’t protect herself any more.

      I doubt Holly would have rallied after that seventh round, but it’s true that other fights have gone that way.

      I know this is pro fighting and they let stuff go much farther. But my call (from the sidelines, long after the fact, and only looking at the video) would still have been different.

      PS: You never have to apologize on *this* blog for writing long posts. I’m the Queen of Long Posts! 🙂

  9. Margaret Reyes Dempsey December 18, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

    I found that hard to watch. I’m no expert, as you know, but I agree that it was not a mismatch. However, she was flopping around like a fish caught in a net near the end when she was stuck in the ropes.

    I have a question for the boxers who visit, whether amateur or professional. If you ever felt your opponent was beyond done and the ref wasn’t taking proper action, would you stop fighting or at the least fight “softer.”

    Based on Peter’s comment above, I’m thinking pros may have a different opinion.

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe December 19, 2011 at 10:55 am #

      It’s a good question, and I can tell you what I think my coaches would say: You go for the knockout.

      It’s been said above, and it’s true that refs are much more cautious in an amateur fight. You almost *never* see a situation like this in amateurs.

      In pro fighting, if your opponent seems weary, tired, stunned — you try to finish the fight cleanly with a KO. That’s your job. You don’t play nice. The ref is supposed to do his/her job and make sure it’s “clean” boxing (i.e., no illegal hits, etc.).

      And in pro boxing — as with MMA — if the losing fighter is not able to cover up or return fire for a certain period of time, the ref calls it. The Gina Carano vs. Chris Santos is a good example of this. In that case, the losing fighter (Carano) was fresh and still in the first round, but she was not returning fire, and after taking about a dozen unbelievably fast and hard shots from Santos the ref called it.

      Anyway, it’s a good question because Mathis was doing the right thing: going for the knockout. I thought the fight should have been called before that, but it wasn’t my call.

      However, you can bet both Mathis and Holm know exactly what they’re doing by fighting; anyone who’s competed does. If you don’t understand that this is part of the deal, you just don’t fight.

      I would be very interested in what others have to say about it.

    • Adam Welsh January 7, 2012 at 8:08 am #

      Unfortunately, Margaret, fighting “softer” is not an option in pro boxing. The law of the jungle applies, and when your opponent is in difficulty you do everything possible to punish her until she’s knocked out or the ref calls a halt.

      The “no mercy” mentality doesn’t just apply when your opponent is dazed after a knockdown. If she suffers a facial injury, for instance, you’re expected to target the weakness in order to inconvenience her and, perhaps, force an early stoppage. A good example of this involved Holly Holm three years ago. Having broken Duda Yankovich’s nose early in round 2 of their fight in New Mexico, Holly attacked the injury at every opportunity. Duda’s breathing was affected, and by the time the fight was stopped in round 4 her face was in a shocking state. The injury kept her out of action for 12 months.

      Morally speaking, of course, pro boxing is indefensible. The very skills used to win a contest risk seriously injuring an opponent. Fight fans in full frenzy are not a pretty sight: Holly’s supporters turned up the volume when they saw blood pouring from Duda’s nose in the example quoted above, and urged their favourite to do more damage.

      And yet, despite its obvious barbarity, boxing retains a primitive, universal appeal.

      • Amy Scheer January 7, 2012 at 9:12 am #

        While reading up on MMA recently (I knew very little), I was surprised to regularly come across the notion that MMA is safer than boxing. The claim is that MMA is a submission sport, whereas there is no tapping out in boxing; fighters, therefore, are theoretically “safer.” But I’ve got to assume that pride gets in the way of submission more often than not.

        • Lisa Creech Bledsoe January 7, 2012 at 3:04 pm #

          This is clearly nuts. MMA has longer rounds, less padding, and more strike zones. As far as tapping out — boxers essentially can tap out by having their corner throw in the flag; of course that’s not the fighter themselves. In amateurs you’ll sometimes see someone “take a knee” which ends the bout, but I’ve never heard of that happening in the pros. I assume if you wanted to end the fight in the pros you’d have to let yourself be put on the canvas, then stay there for the full 8 count. (I think Holly mentioned this in the post-fight interview.)

          I’ve seen several pro tap outs — when your arm is about to be broken, you decide to do it real quick. But I’ll bet you’re still right, Amy — pride will make you put up with a lot.

    • Adam Welsh January 7, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

      I meant to include in my reply that the most useful facial injury a pro boxer can inflict is to open a cut above her opponent’s eye. The flow of blood impairs her vision, making her easier to hit. And when she raises her guard to protect the injury she leaves other targets open for attack.

      A skilled boxer will exploit the wound, of course, causing it to deepen and widen to such an extent that the fight may have to be stopped.

      • Lisa Creech Bledsoe January 7, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

        I liked what you said, Adam, about how morally speaking, boxing is indefensible. It really is, and I often find myself conflicted about that. I love the sport, I love to fight, yet I also realize how on the edge (or even over the edge) it is. I guess you have to find a way to live with that if you love it…

  10. Adam Welsh January 5, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

    Thanks for raising this important matter and for the chance to comment.

    The key failure of the referee was to miss the knockdown of Holm in round 6, which he deemed a slip. That was an incredible error, because on the clip you can hear the crowd gasp when Mathis lands the brutal right uppercut to send Holly tumbling.

    Mathis, who questioned the impartiality of the judges in a pre-fight interview, probably drew a certain conclusion at this point: the only way I’m certain to win here is to knock Holly unconscious.

    To her credit, that’s exactly what she did – and the way she piled on the punishment to her shaky opponent is as good an example of “the killer instinct” as you’ll ever see. Of course the fight should have been stopped earlier, but given the ref’s incompetence and the timidity of Holly’s corner, only Mathis could bring the contest to a conclusion. And what a finish she produced! Those clubbing right-hand shots confirmed her reputation as a KO specialist. Holly may even have been unconscious before the final blow landed.

    It’s a pity that such an intense, brutal battle between two women was marred by male ineptitude and timidity. Mathis has been denied some of the credit she deserved for a savage display of power and aggression. Holm’s beating was longer and more sustained than it need have been, and let’s hope she avoids long-term damage.

    At its best, however, the fight showcased women’s boxing at its finest. The exchanges in round 4 combined bravery, brutality, desire and technique as two exceptional athletes gave it their all in the most primitive form of competition known to humankind.

    For women’s boxing to be consistently credible and authentic, that’s the benchmark.

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe January 5, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

      Outstanding comment, Adam, and right on the money. Thanks so much for your excellent summary. Well put! 🙂

  11. Adam Welsh January 8, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

    Four final thoughts on how this fight ended.

    1) I’ve seen a further online clip posted by a spectator who had a view of Mathis from behind as she piled into Holm for the last time (round 7). While the ref untangles Holly from the ropes, Mathis steps back to assess the state of her opponent and prepare the final onslaught – excellent ring management on her part. The fact that she’s moving forward when she unloads those wicked right-hand blows adds velocity to their impact and explains the explosive nature of the KO. On the clip, as Mathis advances towards Holly, a female fan is heard to say: “Aw, s**t”, followed by “Oh, she’s gone” when the punches connect.

    2) There are no calls from the crowd for the fight to be stopped, even though it’s clear that Holly is in no condition to continue. The fact that she rallied briefly at the start of round 7 may have misled fans about her chances.

    3) It’s lucky for Holly that the KO took place on the ropes, which cushioned her fall. Had it happened in mid-ring, the risk of serious damage from head-to-canvas impact would have been huge.

    4) In her comments published in the French media, Mathis said: “Seen from outside, a KO like this can appear shocking, but that’s the way boxing is.” Asked about her feelings on winning, she said: “I must admit, when she collapsed onto the ropes and was lying motionless, it gave me a thrill!” (The verb she used – “J’ai kiffé!” – is a slang expression that sometimes signifies erotic pleasure.) She added: “I love those moments in the boxing ring when I sense my opponent is about to hit the floor.” No wonder the French consider Mathis “une tueuse” – a “killer”. She certainly possesses the killer instinct, as her KO record reveals.

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe January 8, 2012 at 5:15 pm #

      Powerful information. And what a sobering insight into the gut emotions of a professional fight. There are so many cultural prohibitions against admission of feelings like this, particularly for women, and yet they are absolutely, undeniably present.

      There was a time in my life when I would have been horrified by this sort of insight or admission, but perhaps my age and stage — and certainly my experience in boxing — have worked their changes on me. Life is hard; warriors have a place in it. Fighting is a focused, unambivalent metaphor for many of the things we inevitably face. We can ignore the battles that present themselves, we can try and piece together alternate solutions, or we can train hard, get in the ring, and battle it out. It took me a long time, but I respectfully nod my head in understanding when I hear what Mathis said.

      I watched the movie “Warrior” last night for the first time. After Brendan popped Tommy’s shoulder out (yikes), he went back to his corner, distraught, and his coach says — with absolutely NO hesitation — “Now I want you to pop the other one out.” He means it. The fight must be finished, and finished as definitively as humanly possible. The former me would never have understood. The former me would have wept or refused to hear. But I saw that and I experienced a profound resonance.

      A fighter should work to finish the fight. And if the ref doesn’t call it (and this one should have), it’s the fighter’s job to make it excruciatingly clear that the victory is hers.

      I have nothing but respect for both Mathis and Holm. They faced an incredibly difficult challenge, and they both showed undeniable warrior spirit. Brava.

      • Adam Welsh January 11, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

        That’s a great way to describe a boxer’s duty to finish off her opponent if the ref fails to intervene – “make it excruciatingly clear that the victory is hers.”

        It was excruciating for Holly that Mathis chose such a clever two-punch combination to close the deal. The right uppercut jolted Holly’s head high enough to leave her wide open for the right cross that smashed her half-way through the ropes, unconscious. From a technical point of view the delivery of the blows was perfect. Given Mathis’ later comments about the satisfaction she took from putting Holly away, she probably enjoyed inflicting additional and decisive punishment on her opponent, whose bloodied face was a tribute to the power and precision of the winner’s right hand.

        • Lisa Creech Bledsoe January 11, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

          I wish the ref or the corner had called it like they should have, I really do. (Do you wonder how this changed Holly’s relationship with her trainers? Me too…)

          • Adam Welsh January 12, 2012 at 9:26 am #

            I agree 100% the fight should have been stopped earlier. In fact, the failure of the ref and Holly’s corner gave Mathis the ultimate authority inside the ring. She had power over her opponent that could have ended in tragedy.

            I’m intrigued that, despite knowing how weak and shaken Holly was, Mathis did not flinch from hitting her harder than ever in order to secure the win. Anti-boxing campaigners have plenty of ammunition from what happened.

            As for Holly’s relationship with her corner, she gave a lengthy television interview to a local station. I haven’t been able to play all of it, but the main thing is she looks OK and says her health is fine. She blames herself for losing focus in the middle rounds and getting drawn into a brawl. No way is she going to retire after a defeat.

            If there’s more interesting content in the rest of the interview, please let me know.
            http://www.krqe.com/dpp/sports/sports_office/sports-office-boxer-holly-holm

      • Tara August 29, 2012 at 3:13 pm #

        I will admit that I have felt erotic pleasure at least once when I had my opponent in trouble and I waited for her to get up so I could end it! I was motivated even more by my erotic arousal.

        Yes, boxing is brutal but if the contenders are somewhat evenly matched…..

        I can’t say, I ever went easy on an opponent who appeared hurt….in fact the corner reminds us of where to concentrate in the following round.

        This is an outstanding thread, thanks all…

  12. David January 15, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

    hi all i’m french and i’m very happy for the win of “Anne So” (anne sophie mathis) but me to i’m disturbed by the end of this fight. i think the first role of holly corner is to protect is figther and the first job of ref is protect all fighter ! you now in france all think before the fight the only way for AnneSo victory is the KO because holly is a great boxer she fight at home and if the fight go in is term the judge give the victory to holly (look at the 6 what the ref make when holly is in floor O-o).
    Out the ring AnneSo is a very nice person but on the ring she have the killer instinct, the figther spirit, she is a real warrior.
    Adam “The verb she used – “J’ai kiffé!” – is a slang expression that sometimes signifies erotic pleasure” NO
    “The verb she used – “J’ai pris mon pied !”(translat :” i take my foot “) – is a slang expression that sometimes signifies erotic pleasure” OK 😀

    bravo all for your interesting post and sorry for my poor language !

    • Adam Welsh January 16, 2012 at 7:26 am #

      Merci, David – joli de vous écouter!

      How would you translate “J’ai kiffé!”?

      Will Mathis be expected to win a fight against Braekhus?

  13. David January 16, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

    Hello, Adam is really nice to chat with people on the other side of the earth.
    I find you all very courteous and discuss what happens in a good mood is very nice.
    “j’ai kiffé” is a slang word that does not exist in the French dictionary so I can not tell you exactly but this result should look like “I loved it.”
    I sincerely believe that AnneSo is qualified for beat Braekhus required but she is a very good boxer with a pretty technical and the game is open. But if braekhus made ​​the same mistake as holly and accepts brawl it will lose by KO. AnneSo is too strong and has a devastating right hand. I think the salvation of boxers style of holly or braekhus is the win at point with touching and remaining folding a distance.
    But after what I know the fight with braekhus is not nearly do this (Braekhus or his manager not in a hurry to meet AnnSo :D) and there is chance that the rematch with holly arrive before AnneSo lacated an agreement with Braekhus.

    • Adam Welsh January 16, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

      Merci de nouveau, David. It will be a pity if Braekhus does not agree to fight Mathis in the near future. Women’s boxing absolutely needs the pair to meet. The interest in a fight between them would be huge, especially after the Mathis-Holm bout, and it would promote women’s pro boxing in a way seldom seen before.

      As for tactics, I agree that Braekhus must try to keep Mathis at long range. But AnneSo’s powerful body shots would slow her down and probably turn the fight into the kind of brawl she enjoys so much – and usually wins.

      If the fight does not take place, it will damage the credibility of women’s boxing.

  14. David January 16, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

    I quite agree with you, a fight Mathis – Braekhus will really be good for the progress of women’s boxing. In addition the opposition style is very interested in, Braekhus practice has a very nice watch boxing that of Mathis is more rustic but extremely effective. I think the KO very hard inflicted holly must stop the heat of Brakhus. Anyway clan Mathis regret the difficulty to reach an agreement with the clan Braekhus.
    But if the fight Mathis – Braekhus does therefore not too bad, the rematch Mathis – Holly have to be very interested.
    Holly will not make the same mistake twice, I’m looking forward to its strategy and the response of Mathis.
    But I hope that holly is presented psychologically this has knocked the press conference after the match it seemed really reached.

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe January 16, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

      I can’t wait for EITHER match: Mathis v Braekhus OR Mathis v Holm. This is the good stuff boxing is made of! 🙂

      • Adam Welsh January 17, 2012 at 8:20 am #

        If there’s a Holm-Mathis re-match, they’d better have the ambulance on standby!

  15. David January 19, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

    Hello, lisa even though I absolutely endorse what happened at the end of combat it is clear that the dramatic match between ko and holm mathis will affect positivent on the influx of spectators for women’s boxing. even if it’s changing the girls have a good tehnique but lack power. At the moment the audience is mostly men prefer the show and the technique. Mathis on this game which is very little known even in France will arouse curiosity and with 22 to 26 kb victory, numerous people will follow and therefore it’s going to know a little better now women’s boxing. hello adam I hope there will be no need for ambulance and if Holly is in trouble his corner throw in the towel!

  16. Adam Welsh January 23, 2012 at 9:20 am #

    According to WBAN, Mathis will fight Braekhus in mid-March before meeting Holm for the re-match in June.

    Also, the full Holm-Mathis fight has now been posted on YouTube in 2 parts:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lx3evvjsMzs
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSeBjSqv9Xc&feature=related

    In the first clip the fight begins at about 2:20.

  17. David January 23, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

    hello Adam watched the video I board. To sum up what they say, they praised the boxing holly during the 5 first round. They said it was fast and his punching power is underrated. He severely criticized the arbitration, they did not like the bias holly and slow to stop the fight. they said that the fight with Braekhus was being negotiated but not yet.

  18. Adam Welsh January 25, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    Interesting comment on YouTube suggests there was a hint of contempt about the way Mathis finished Holly off. Seen from the fans-eye perspective, it looks a bit like that. Warning: the last 30 seconds of this short clip are not for the faint-hearted, as Mathis transforms her right hand into a wrecking-ball and you can see her preparing to use the weapon on a helpless opponent.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNPKmnHT9s4

    Lisa, you wondered about Holly’s relations with her corner after the fight. In the extensive interview with Van Tate, she doesn’t talk about that. I expect her corner were angry that she deviated from the fight plan and got involved in a brawl. This in no way excuses the corner’s failure to protect her, of course.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXnBPYQKNJ4

  19. David January 25, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    Adam I can assure you that there had no arrogance on the part of Anne So just respect. And if the fight ended the way it is sad that only the fault of the referee and coach of holly. So Anne says so, it is late at the end of the fifth round and if she wants to win it must be a knockout. In the 6 after a upercut Anne So the referee does not Holly and shows a slide. In 7 the referee takes the arm of Holly ropes and made ​​to fight again. coach Holly does not, what should Anne So? It did not cross the Atlantic and made ​​so many sacrifices to make a gift even if it was the holly respect. At the end of the fight she raises her arms but it is simple and it’s normal she just won a world championship.

  20. David January 28, 2012 at 8:19 am #

    Mathis’ll fight Braekhus March 17 and June 15 holly!

  21. Adam Welsh January 29, 2012 at 6:47 am #

    Thanks for the update, David – bring it on (Mathis vs. Braekhus)!

    Looking again at the Holm-Mathis fight in full, one aspect of the ref’s performance that’s very worrying is his failure to “read” the way the fight was developing. By the start of round 6 Holm was tiring, having been outgunned during the slug-fest that made round 5 so exciting.

    So Mathis was able to punish her with increasingly heavy head-shots in the 6th. Left hooks and right uppercuts rocked Holm on two occasions, and she struggled to stay on her feet. It was obvious that the fight had turned in Mathis’ favour, and a sensitive referee would have realised this.

    Instead, when Holm hit the floor following another wicked right uppercut, he called a slip and didn’t count. An official who can’t tell the difference between a knockdown and a slip is a danger to boxers.

  22. laura February 11, 2012 at 7:46 am #

    I felt physically sick after watching this horrible fight, which has finished me with boxing for ever. I’m no expert, but I never expected to see one woman boxer take such a savage beating at the hands of another. In some ways, I’m glad that earlier posters have discussed so happily the level of “brutality” involved in this fight (are these things measured on a scale of 1-10?) and praised the winner’s “killer instincts.” Thanks, guys, for convincing me to boycott boxing for ever. Here’s a question I think you should all ponder: if even one fight can turn out like this, how can you support a “sport” that’s so horrific?? If these actions happened in the street you’d call the police, wouldn’t you??

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe February 11, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

      You make an interesting point, Laura. Yes, this is a brutal sport, and I grew up believing that was all there was to it. What I discovered, as I began to learn to box (originally for fitness only, no contact), was that there was an amazing complexity to it, and the potential dangers were worth the incredible skills and life lessons I learned from it.

      Other sports are incredibly brutal as well — racecar driving is huge in my state, but the thought of all the crashes and fires and deadly incidents turns me off of it. The number of head injuries in soccer far outstrips the number of head injuries in boxing. BMX bikers lose teeth and crack skulls regularly. And so on.

      Your comment makes me go back again to think about how I got from the “it’s just brutality” to “I’ve learned a lot from this and have come to love it”… I really do need to get that down better.

      Thank you for contributing to the discussion, and for challenging all of us to think carefully about it.

  23. David February 12, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

    I wanted to add your comment if you will allow me Lisa, boxing has absolutely nothing to do with street fighting.
    Moreover, the KO is only the culmination of ERRORS from the corner of Holly and the referee. the action is violent but Anne sophie is not in a mood of violence but of determination like all great champions in any sport

  24. Tabitha W. February 16, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

    I hope it’s OK for a latecomer to add a few points to this great discussion? I love to watch boxing, and I’m very encouraged by the progress of women’s boxing in recent years. My take on this fight is t6hat Holly Holm fought a dumb fight and deserved to get a spanking! Why on earth did she try to out-brawl a slugger? I’ll never understand that decision.

    What happened after that was pretty much inevitable, I think. She did unbelievably well to survive all the punishment Anne-So dished out in round 6, and I agree that round 7 should never have taken place. However, once it did, the knock-out was one of the most stunning things I’ve ever seen. In general, I think a KO is the best, most conclusive way to decide a fight. It’s also ironic, I think, that the nasty cut under Holly’s eye only happened in the needless last round. That was the first time since 2004 she’s been troubled by the same wound. If the rematch goes ahead, Anne-So will have a target to aim for from the first bell.

    One other thing: in Europe there’s been no great sympathy for Holly Holm, because she’s widely regarded as over-hyped and over-protected. Thanks for reading this, if you stayed with me to the end.!

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe February 16, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

      Tabitha, you make a great point: I don’t know whether it was part of Holly’s strategy to slug it out with her; I think she just got drawn into it.

      AND, the rematch is ON for June 15.
      I would also expect Anne to target that cheekbone… And I will be very curious to see what Holm’s strategy is!

      Meanwhile, the Mathis-Braekhus match is happening March 17:
      http://www.boxingtalk.com/pag/article.php?aid=22882

      **Thanks to Adam Welsh for catching my earlier error. 🙂

      • Adam Welsh February 19, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

        In her interview with Van Tate Holly said she let herself got drawn into the punch-up with Mathis and next time she’ll pay more attention to defence (she could hardly pay less!).

        Tabitha makes a good point about the wound under Holly’s left eye. When Italian Rita Turrisi inflicted the injury in June 2004, Holly’s corner threw in the towel after 4 rounds and she was out of action for 6 months! Up to that point she fought on average every 6-8 weeks, so the long lay-off tells you how deep the cut was. The fact that Mathis sliced open a weakness that had stayed healed for 7 years speaks volumes about the vicious punishment Holly suffered in the closing stages. Like Lisa says, Mathis will hammer the cheekbone without mercy when the rematch takes place.

        On the question of “brutality” raised by Laura, I don’t pretend that pro boxing is anything less than brutal at times. As such, it falls outside the conventional definition of “sport”. For cultural and traditional reasons the spectacle of a brutal fight involving women raises particular concerns, and I fully understand Laura’s reservations.

        Did anybody see Jelena Mrdjenovich’s KO win against Olivia Gerula in a featherweight title fight, about a week after Holm-Mathis? Gerula collapsed face-first after a close-range two-punch combination and was out cold for 7 minutes. Unlike the Holm fight, there was no heavy-duty punishment before the finish suddenly arrived, yet the consequnces could also have been very serious. Fortunately Gerula recovered, but who knows what the long-term effects might be? Same thing with Holly.

  25. Adam Welsh February 24, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

    The eagerly-awaited Braekhus-Mathis fight on March 17 will be screened live on Denmark’s 3+ channel and Swedish TV10. I envy fans who’ll get to see this showdown, in which the WBA, WBC and WBO female welterweight titles will be on the line.

    I’ve read a theory that Braekhus is prone to swelling around the eyes, as Chevelle Hallback showed. Mathis hits harder than Hallback, of course, so we might see a bruised Braekhus trying to evade the haymakers that did so much damage to Holly Holm. If the swelling is severe, her vision will be impaired.

    Lisa, how do you see this fight going?

  26. Adam Welsh March 1, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    Mathis vs. Braekhus has been postponed for a month because Braekhus is sick at present and can’t train. New date is April 21.

  27. Adam Welsh March 1, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

    Further details on the reason for the postponement – Cecilia Braekhus has tonsilitis.
    http://www.boxingnews24.com/2012/02/braekhus-knocked-out-by-tonsillitis-march-17-show-postponed-to-april-21/

    Don’t you just love Mathis’ reaction? “Speaking from her training base in Nancy, Mathis stated: “I wish Cecilia a speedy recovery. I was ready to beat her on March 17 and I am ready to beat her on April 21. It gives her five more weeks to look at the titles before I take them to France.”

  28. Adam Welsh March 21, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

    Another postponement – Braekhus has had surgery to remove her tonsils, and no new date has been fixed yet.

  29. Adam Welsh May 19, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    Post-script and preview: Now that the Holm-Mathis re-match has been confirmed for June 15, I was interested to read comments by Holly’s promoter Lenny Fresquez:

    “Based on past statistics, I understand that about 85 percent of rematches are won by the winner of the first fight. But Coach Winkeljohn and I strongly feel that Holly has learned from her mistakes and she will gain retribution on June 15th. In the last fight, they were throwing leather, and I’ve never seen women hit like that. These two women are more ferocious than a lot of guys. In all my years promoting women’s boxing, I never saw a fight that both fighters threw and connected on so many hard punches. They tried to take each other’s heads off. I expect this fight to be equally exciting and hard fought.”

    Even allowing for promoters’ hype, his comments about the first fight are accurate. Let’s hope health and safety concerns don’t become a factor again next month.

  30. Helge Ellevset August 20, 2012 at 4:58 am #

    That was not a referee, it was a dead weight. Completely outragous to not stop the fight when Holms was outboxed into the ropes. Worst slaughter I have seen since Tyson knocked Larry Holmes. That ref should not be let into a ring as a ref again.

    • Helge Ellevset August 20, 2012 at 4:59 am #

      Female boxers are real boxers now, they should have real refs.

      • Tabitha W. March 30, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

        I agree totally that refs in women’s boxing should be comptent and professional. But I wouldn’t want things to go to another extreme with fights being stopped early just because the fighters are female. Of course this fight was allowed to contiune too long, but up to a certain point Holly Holm’s bravery gave her a chance to turn things around — and haven’t we all seen bouts where a champion stages a big comeback? Sometimes that’s the appeal of boxing. Especially in a title fight it’s not unusual for a ref to give a fighter every chance to stay competitive, and I think you have to admire Holm’s ability to absorb a big bombardment and still try to come back. After a while it should have been obvious that she had nothing left to give, and that should have been the signal for the ref to save her from further punishment.

  31. George September 7, 2014 at 12:21 am #

    I agree with your scenario completely. Either this ref was being paid off or he should never be allowed to ref a fight EVER! As far as Winklejohn, he is as much to blame for letting this get way out of hand, did you hear his post fight comment that Holly would have yelled at him if he threw in the towel? He is the most guilty of negligence, this is someone he cares for?

  32. S. Odell MItchell December 3, 2015 at 3:38 pm #

    I have seen hundreds of fights in the last 55 years, since weekly Friday night fights on TV. I agree with everything Ms. Bledsoe stated above. The referee should never have worked again after this. The worst referee ever. Her corner could have gotten her killed and have no excuse for letting the fight continue. I have not read all the comments above. In boxing there is often a double-concussion when a boxer is hit and in two seconds or less, his/her head hits the canvas. This can kill or do permanent brain damage. Holly may have had a standing double- concussion, if there is such a term. That is how bad she was hurt without recovery time. Her corner is even more at fault than the incompetent (Rocky) referee.

    • Adam Welsh December 6, 2015 at 12:26 pm #

      You’re absolutely right about the referee, Holm’s corner and the danger to which she was exposed – totally shocking and unacceptable. Regarding the risk of double-concussion: she fell to the canvas quite softly from the first knock-down (Round 6), and when the KO came (Round 7) she was battered through the ropes before being pushed gently back into the ring in a crumpled heap. So – thankfully – on neither occasion did her head hit the floor with the sickening force that you mention.

      But Holm’s head was subjected to a brutal barrage of blows as Mathis displayed her killer instinct after the first knock-down (deemed a slip by the appalling referee). I’ve never seen such sustained, savage punishment in a women’s bout.

      As stated before, it’s a shame that the incompetence and controversy it sparked overshadowed the magnificent action we witnessed in the first five rounds. Those ten minutes were a tremendous exhibition of female fisticuffs.

  33. chad December 27, 2015 at 12:07 am #

    i hope that son of a bitch is not still refing. what a complete fucking asshole to untangle a clearly out on their feet fighter from the ropes and allow to take more punishment. he should have his head bashed in by a baseball bat by frank mir.

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