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Women's fights
In Ferndale

Photos and Story
by Mike Blair
January 19, 2008


(JAN 19) The Silver Reef Casino filled half of the fight card on January 17th with women’s bouts. Six women, three fights, two of the rematches, and two Northwest belts resulted in just about everything a fight fan would like to see. 

Molly McConnell stepped in to the ring to face Tammie Johnson in a rematch of a fight last year that though McConnell won, there were those ringside who believed should have leaned toward Johnson.

There would be no such controversy in this fight. McConnell answered the opening bell, met Johnson in the middle of the ring and threw a jab straight and hard at her head. Johnson answered throwing both the left and right, from the outside, and while keeping her head down, plowing forward.

While Johnson was certainly the busier fighter in the first round, if one counts punches thrown, she did not counter McConnell’s accuracy and efficiency.

In the second round,  McConnell struck an advantage in the inside. While Johnson continued to step forward and though she tightened up her punches a bit, was still throwing wide, McConnell found the range for and the position from which to launch the uppercut. McConnell popped Johnson’s head back a couple of times in the round. While Johnson continued to pursue McConnell she was also burning a lot of energy.

McConnell on the other hand was content to let Johnson come to her, and when she did jab and move to work inside. Even at the moments with Johnson had McConnell pinned to the ropes, and was landing to the body, McConnell was able to effectively counter.

McConnell emerged for the beginning of the third with a different look in her eyes. She seemed to sense that she could control the fight, and that the shots she was landing were taking a heavy toll on Johnson. Johnson, on the other hand, appeared tired, but no less active.

McConnell seemed to land almost every punch she threw, and when she backed Johnson across the ring about a minute and a half in, her right hand found a target flush to Johnson’s chin and dropped her. Hard. To Johnson’s credit, she rose and on shaky legs finished the round. A lesser fighter would have stayed down.

Johnson’s corner waved an end to the fight after examining her in the corner at the end of the third. McConnell would earn the 4th round TKO victory and the Northwest Welterweight Championship with a focused and intense display of boxing skill. Johnson is now 3-2, while McConnell climbs to 10-1 with 5Kos. Perhaps it is time for Molly to get the chance to step up in the bright lights.

Merced Nunez faced Elizabeth Villarreal [aka: Moreno] for the second time. The last time the two met, in Oregon, the fight ended in a draw. In Ferndale they would be fighting for the Northwest Featherweight Title. Nunez had the advantage early in the fight as she covered up and pressured Villarreal with body shots. Villarreal adjusted and used her height and reach to keep Nunez from taking the fight inside. From there, Villarreal used her jab to set up her right, and in the second round she threw a number of quick combinations. Those Villarreal shots took a little of the snap off Nunez’s punches.

The first minute of the third round was all Nunez as she caught her breath and landed the harder shots, many to the midsection. Then, Villarreal closed the round by returning to the combinations. Moreno continued to gain momentum early in the fourth. Nunez had to cover up to avoid many of the shots, and she found it a bit more difficult to fight from a defensive position.

The fifth and sixth rounds were fought inside and on the outside. Nunez took her game inside and when she did she scored. She landed shots to the lanky Villarreal’s body, but could not break her all the way down. Villarreal continued to move backward and fight on the outside. She appeared to sense that she could not allow Nunez to take the fight in close.

After six rounds one judge scored the bout 58-56 Villarreal; the second judge scored it 58-56 Nunez; and the third judge scored the fight 57 each. Another draw, and neither could claim the belt. Villarreal is now 5-7-4, while Nunez is 7-1-2 with 2KOs. The crowd was screaming for a rematch, and it could happen, but I don’t know that these two want it right away – it would be tough to fight the same person three times in a row.

Stephanie Eggink, of Ferndale, made her professional debut facing unbeaten Brittany Cruz in a four round featherweight bout. Eggink certainly had the local crowd on her side, though as the opening round progressed, some may have wondered if taking on Cruz was a wise choice.

The opening round was close because Cruz was often first with her jab, and that kept Eggink from gaining any rhythm. However, as the round approached its end, Eggink had figured out when to counter punch, and she did so well. Once the first round jitters had cleared, Eggink, not content to jump in behind the jab, used her jab to work inside. And she was tough inside. She blistered Cruz’s midsection.

Cruz tired a bit in the third, the effects of the body work Eggink applied, but she was still pretty accurate with the jab. That however did not counter act Eggink’s continued body assault.

By the fourth round,  Eggink had found her rhythm, and virtually everything she tried worked. Her overall quickness kept Cruz at bay.

After four rounds, all three judges agreed, scoring the fight 40-36 in favor of Stephanie Eggink. Brittany Cruz suffered her first loss. She is now 2-1.

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