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?