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Isra Girgrah vs. Christy Martin
by Erik Anderson
August 23, 1997
at Madison Square Garden

I watched the boxing card on August 23rd, including Isra "Raging Beauty" Girgrah vs. Christy Martin. (The winner usually goes first but with such an awful decision I thought I'd make an exception).

It really turned out to be another action packed ladies' fight. And one that may finally mortalize Christy Martin at least a little bit.

It was billed as the first pro women's championship fight at MSG. However, that works only if you buy the fact that Martin's WBC "Honorary Lightweight Title" or "Woman's Pound for Pound Title" is a real world championship title. The name seems to change each time, probably depending on whether Christy is fighting an opponent in her weight class or not. This time both weighed in at 138 lbs.

At any rate, Atlanta's Isra Girgrah proved herself as a legitimate contender, worthy of the #5 rank she received from the WIBF, and Christy proved once again that she is a great brawler but not nearly as outstanding a boxer as she thinks she is.

Christy did indeed come in with the intention to do more boxing and to utilize her jab. However, it was actually Girgrah who showed the jab in the early portion of the fight. She also was surprisingly holding her own on the inside against Christy, often catching Christy's monster right hand on her glove, minimizing the damage, and then countering the technique with a left hook to Martin's face.

Both fighters landed a fair share of punches in the round but Girgrah landed the most damaging blow when she hit Martin with one left hook that buckled "The Coal Miner's Daughter."

Girgrah vs. MartinIn Round Two, Christy's overwhelming power got to Isra and the "Raging Beauty" was floored early. Martin threw a good combination of body and head punches that eventually set up a right hand that sent Girgrah reeling . Her glove touched the canvas prompting the ref to step in for an eight count. Girgrah wasn't doing as well trading with Martin in this round as Christy's shots were obviously the heavier of the two. By the end of the round Girgrah was losing a large amount of blood from her nose.

In Round Three, Isra was able to get the spacing to her advantage, enabling her to box more. It seemed to be working for her as she was able to avoid a repeat of the second round troubles she had and got in some pretty good punches finishing the round strong after an early Martin barrage.

Martin was dominant again overpowering Girgrah in the fourth and using a good left hook to her advantage.

Unfortunately, she also showed shades of her boxing hero halfway through the round, intentionally driving her shoulder blade into Isra's face perhaps trying to increase the bleeding on the already injured fighter's face.

This drew a warning from the official and thankfully, it was the last and only dirty tactic she used in this fight.

Martin's boxing attack was getting to Girgrah in Round Four and Isra was bleeding very badly when headed to her corner after the round. It was, however, the last round I saw her lose. Girgrah really turned it on in the last half of the fight. In Round Five she landed two very solid right hooks set up in both cases beautifully by her jab.

Girgrah did most of her late work from the outside but she was also able so inflict punishment with her infighting as the fight wore on and Martin, who has little experience past six rounds despite her huge experience in terms of fights, was no longer superior in that area. It was Isra who was landing the better hooks both to the body and head.

The punishment Girgrah had inflicted throughout the fast paced battle began to show up on Martin's face at the end of the sixth as she had a huge purple bump under her right eye, surely as a result of the left hooks her opponent had been landing. Martin's nose was also bloodied from the punches she had taken while Isra's nose was not bleeding nearly as much as it had been earlier.

Girgrah vs. Martin, Round 7 Martin taunted Girgrah in the seventh after an exchange in which she fared poorly, but it was clear that the taunts would not get to Girgrah and she finished the fight strongly. In fact, I think she would have erased all doubt about who the winner was if the fight had been scheduled for ten or twelve rounds rather than eight.

By the end of the fight, Martin's left eye was swollen, along with her right and she at least looked the beaten fighter.

Indeed, the crowd and the fans at home who had voted over the internet (5 rounds to 3) saw Girgrah as the winner.

The announcers, though they had scored the fight even with the knockdown as the only difference (putting Christy ahead by one point) were impressed by the well schooled Girgrah.

The judges were not. They, not surprisingly, gave a ridiculously one sided decision to "The Coal Miner's Daughter" (78-74, 78-73, 78-73).

The only reason it was an expected decision is it's happened before. Martin's tough fight with Deirdre Gogarty was a slaughter according to the judges, only one of whom gave Deirdre a round. Before that as well, Laura Serrano was apparently jipped. Misguided efforts in judging have certainly not been exclusive to Christy Martin, but they have to be expected because of the history.

Martin apparently does now want to fight both Laura Serrano and Lucia Rijker although she showed nothing here to indicate she could beat these two. Those two fights are beginning to look more and more like mismatches.

I'd like to see Martin and Girgrah battle again as this one was truly entertaining, but I'm not sure there's any chance of these two getting together on an equal playing field.

Unless someone knocks her unconscious, or she has another feud with the big guy, it looks like Martin will remain the WBC Lightweight Champ... or is it Pound for Pound champ?

Page last updated: Thursday, 16 January 2014


Fight Report by Erik Anderson



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