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Marine Blues
By Ewan Whyte
December 5, 2006

     
   
   
   
   

An eight-fight unbeaten run came to an end on Saturday evening as "The Fighting Marine", 29-year-old Kasha Chamblin of Lafayette, Louisiana, hit the deck in the Estrel Convention Center, Berlin-Neukölln, and with it, her hopes of snatching the WIBF featherweight belt from the waist of the still undefeated Ina Menzer of Mönchengladbach. Chamblin was a worthy challenger – stylish, fit and full of heart – but she read the exchanges less well than her opponent, missed widely with her best shots, and did scant mischief with the rest.

An exchange in the first round encapsulated the entire fight: a jab so anaemic from Chamblin it may even have been a feint, followed by an uppercut that did no damage, refuted by a right cross to the face that did; a furious but ineffectual flurry of four shots in reply from Chamblin interrupted by a clubbing left hook to the cheekbone that bent her neck; and then a second – a punishment shot, almost – for good measure, that knocked her sideways and left her blinking and covering up. "Three direct hits from Menzer," commented ZDF's Michael Pfeffer. "Clearly, aggression on its own won't be enough for Kasha Chamblin."

All the same, the first four minutes made no inroads whatever on her confidence, to judge by her serenity during the break; eyes closed as her trainer applied the Vaseline, she looked for all the world like an actress relaxing between takes while the makeup girl restored her foundation. Even when she sat down at the end of the third, now evidently disconcerted —"She's nailing you with her right," he scolded (as though she hadn't noticed) – her right profile (the skin unmarked, the improbably fragile Roman nose intact) gave no indication that the "Duel of the Beautiful Women" ZDF had promised us were anything more consequential than an exchange of insults.

But all that was about to change. Twenty seconds into the fourth round, Menzer surprised her with a left, which she followed with a combination, and Chamblin was forced to clinch for the first time. "If you look now into the eyes of the attractive Kasha Chamblin…" began Herr Pfeffer a minute later (if only we could, Michael, if only we could!) "… you'll notice that there's a swelling beneath one of them… and it's about to get worse." That wasn't perhaps the way he'd intended to end the sentence, but Menzer, who, unlike those of us sitting at home, was actually in a position to look the attractive Kasha Chamblin in the eyes, had obviously noticed the swelling too, and been inspired. The result was what Pfeffer called "ein Trommelfeuer" (think: "drum-roll"; then think "artillery") and by the end of the round, there were bulges under both eyes, complemented, two minutes later, by a trickle of blood from the nose. "She's dirty inside," complained Chamblin; though it was the blows from outside that were doing the real damage: a pair of crisp left-rights, a right hook at the end of a fierce exchange; and (after she'd teed her up almost in slow motion with her left as the American pressed forward) a fourth right that speared into her cheek, provoking an incensed retaliation that continued after the bell. 

Often, when Menzer hit her, she'd shake her head, in the hope of convincing her she wasn't hurt; at other times, she'd respond angrily, lunging and flailing and thrashing the air as the Kazakh skipped away. "It was my footwork that won it," Menzer said afterwards. But it had much, also, to do with her superior weight of punch. On the fleeting occasions when they did stand toe-to-toe, Chamblin pummelled where Menzer punched.  

There are flies in this world convinced that they're wasps. You swat and miss, and they fly up hysterically into your face. And whilst Chamblin has stopped opponents, and might even have managed a result here if she'd found the mark with one of her haymakers, there was much in her worrying of Menzer that suggested a fly harassing a wasp.

And of course, she got stung. She was behind – seven rounds behind, if you believed the commentator – going into the eighth, but showing no signs of wilting, when Menzer hit her – really hit her – and this time there was no denying she was hurt.  

She threw a jab, stepping forward as she did so, and walked straight into a combination. The two lefts landed simultaneously, with the champion's more powerful left  – half jab, half hook – catching her full in the face with a thud and stopping her dead in her tracks, only for the right – even louder, completing a kind-of inverted echo, like the double-thump of the kick drum (only accompanied by tennisy, girlish grunts) – to slam into the side of her face, bending her sideways into a half-past-nine posture (give or take a few minutes), and launching her into a strange backward stagger that lasted several seconds, for most of which time she wore the confused (but stubborn) expression of a drunk who's forgotten what he was about to say (but who's darned if he'll let anyone else speak). According to the commentator, the punch hit her on the temple and interrupted the supply of blood to the brain. I thought it was her cheekbone, and the jarring of the head. But whatever. She tottered backwards for a few metres before going over on her right ankle and falling sideways onto the apron.

She lay there sprawled on her face. "And that is a knock out!" said the commentator, with a tone of finality. But no. The left leg, that had been pulled up, began to straighten, and – slowly at first, like a child turning in her sleep – she began to roll over, and then sat up. By the count of six she was back on her feet and seemed OK. She took a few paces backwards as Van de Wiele came towards her, waving his arms like a charismatic as he performed the count – but so would anyone. He asked her if she was alright, and she said yes, and held up her gloves, and looked set to go; but he took her by the wrists and looked into her eyes; and stopped it. A decision she couldn't understand.

"It's admirable the way she got up like that," commented Pfeffer. "An unbelievable exhibition of soldierly virtue; but the blow was just too hard: a right that hit the target with a force you otherwise – in women's sport, … women's boxing – almost never see."

Whether or not that's true, Menzer does hit hard; the punch that did the damage here was by no means the hardest she is capable of delivering; and if she'd been alert enough to realize at once how badly hurt her opponent was, and hit her again while her hands were down and she was staring with unseeing eyes (and in the wrong direction), there's no way on earth she'd have got up. For something like three seconds there, Chamblin was walking the way Mel Gibson drives. Fortunately she had enough sense left to keep her mouth shut when gravity (in this case, rather than LA's finest) brought her meandering to an end.  

And as well for her that it did; because by that time Menzer was closing in – and fast! 

[Result: Menzer by TKO (referee's stoppage), 1 minute and 8 seconds into the 8th]

Date: 2nd December 2006
Venue: Estrel Convention Center, Berlin-Neukölln
Titles at stake: WIBF Featherweight
Rounds: 10 x 2 min.
Promoter: Universum
Referee: Daniel van de Wiele
Gate: 3,500
Televised by: ZDF (recording; round 7 not shown)

  Ina Menzer (FRG)

Kasha Chamblin (USA)

Title

WIBF Featherweight
 

Record

15-0-0 (7 KOs)

8-0-0 (5KOs)

Weight

57.1 kg

56.0 kg

Height

1.68 m

1.65m

Age

26

29

Place of Birth
 

Atbasar
(Kazakhstan)
 

Home
 

Mönchengladbach
(North-Rhine Westphalia)

Lafayette
(Louisiana)

Trainer

Michael Timm

Beau Williford

 
     
     
   
 
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