The large luxurious Estrel Convention Centre was the venue for the "Battle of the
Blonds" ... Regina Halmich (24) from Hamburg, Germany, the Women's International Boxing
Federation World Junior Flyweight Champion made her 24th defence of her title before
thousands of spectators in the hall and on television..
Her Challenger ... Michelle Sutcliffe (33) from Leeds, England. A mother of two
teenagers, she is the second woman to have been granted a professional boxer's licence
by the British Boxing Board of Control, and is the World Boxing Federation Women's
World Flyweight Champion.
This female contest was eighth on the ten-event, men's World Championship card
promoted by Universum Box Promotion of Hamburg.
Fanfares greeted the entrance of the women. Halmich skipped into and around the ring
and shadow boxed her opponent in an attempt at intimidation !
The playing of the British and German National Anthems with the unfurling of the
national flags preceded the fight.
From the bell it was ten rounds of hard and skilful boxing which, arguably was the most
exciting contest on the night.
Round 1 started slowly as both boxers circled and feinted. Halmich menaced. She
moved forward to begin her classical style of attack. Straight left followed by the right
hook. Momentarily getting Sutcliffe on the ropes. Sutcliffe responded in similar vein.
This set the pattern for the next nine rounds. A fluid fight of movement between two very
evenly matched boxers with similar styles. Heavy, and usually accurate punching -
orthodox style. Straight lefts followed quickly by right hooks, right jabs, uppercuts.,
crosses and in later rounds the occasional wild swing.
Round 2 Halmich attacked - holding the centre of the ring while Sutcliffe circled round
her counterpunching to great effect. Both women keeping their gloves well up in
defence. There was the first of a clash of heads.
Round 3 Sutcliffe landed the first of a number of the cracking straight lefts to Halmich's
chin which would follow in this and later rounds. The force jerked her head back
violently. The sound of the impact could be heard at the back of the gallery. The crowd
A weaker fighter would have been in trouble, but Halmich is tough. . Her graceful
figure belies her strength. She continued to attack, forcing Sutcliffe into a neutral
corner - more by the weight of her body than the strength of her punches. Obviously
stung, she unleashed a barrage of short lefts and rights to the body.
In Round 4 Sutcliffe caught Halmich's jaw with solid left and right handers. But Halmich
kept on attacking with lefts and rights. She appeared to "shake off" the heavy punches.
These first four rounds were even. Both fighters - toe to toe - trading straight lefts
followed by right hooks and jabs. Halmich has the more feline of the two styles. She
weaves and feints. Sutcliffe is a businesslike punching machine. She has a powerful
left hand which starts off as a straight left but appears to twist into her opponents face.
Round 5 Halmich forced Sutcliffe into the Red corner, Sutcliffe fought her way out -
driving Halmich back across the ring to a clinch, which the referee separated. Nearing
the round's end Sutcliffe threw a left which caused Halmich to bump the referee who
looked to see that she was O.K. Halmich nodded assent and went on to unleash a savage
right "haymaker" which landed above the hairline on the left of Sutcliffe's head.
Instantaneously blood burst forth covering the left side of Sutcliffe's face and splattering
onto Halmich's face and white singlet.. This could have been a disaster for Sutcliffe, but
she coped with this injury well - fighting back immediately. There was another clash of
heads clashed at the end of the round.
Sutcliffe's seconds did a magnificent job in staunching the bloody wound, which did not
Round 6 saw Halmich maintain the slightly greater pressure. Sutcliffe had lost some of
her timing and missed with her straight lefts, but still managed to get in some
workmanlike punches, but without the force of the earlier rounds. Halmich maintained
her dogged attack, landing more , but less weightier short lefts and rights.
A clinch , separated by the referee ended the round.
Round 7 Sutcliffe advanced but Halmich quickly regained her attacking style unleashing
another right haymaker. Halmich momentarily trapped Sutcliffe several times in the
Red corner, but each time Sutcliffe fought her way out, resting on Halmich's left
shoulder. A shoving match ensued. Halmich was briefly against the ropes. Sutcliffe
caught her there with a cracking right to the jaw, which caused a roar from the spectators.
Halmich danced away. Then a brief clinch. Halmich counterattacked with lefts and rights
to Sutcliffe's face. The momentum see- sawed between the fighters with each exchanging
solid short punches to the head and body.
As the fighters were seated the audience clapped its appreciation.
Round 8 Halmich moved to take the initiative but was caught immediately by two
vicious left and right hooks to the face. There was a brief flurry of blows in the Blue
corner with an exchange of short punching to the head and body. Halmich landed a good
left hand to Sutcliffe's face. Each woman gave as good as she got. There was again a
clash of heads as the round ended.
Round 9 As Sutcliffe walked out from her corner the severe bruising to her left eye
became apparent. Halmich leant on Sutcliffe forcing her into a neutral corner where
they traded a variety of short left and rights in a short brawl. Blow for blow. Sutcliffe
then imposed herself on Halmich. Near the end of the round Halmich was caught twice
in the face with left and right hooks.
Round 10 Both fighters were tiring. Halmich lead with two straight lefts which missed.
The round was characterised by a succession of brief clinches involving a fast
exchange of sharp left and right jabbing hooks. Again blow was matched by blow.
Sutcliffe's good timing returned and she caught Halmich with a number of short fast
hooks on the break. In the middle of this round a left hook from Sutcliffe swung
Halmich round and caused her to stagger backwards, but she quickly regained her stance.
Both women leaned on each other whilst trading sharp hooks and uppercuts. Sutcliffe
appeared to be asserting her authority by attacking rather than counterpunching. In the
closing seconds of the bout the referee spoke to Sutcliffe apparently about holding as
both women ended clinging to each other. They had given everything !
When the final bell sounded both fighters embraced and individually shook their arms in
the air claiming to be the Winner
When the three international judges decisions were announced the German judge scored
a draw, but ironically the Austrian and Belgian judges narrowly scored for Halmich.
The German crowd booed the decision !
This was Halmich's hardest defence of her title to date.
At the after fight news conference both women had scarred and bruised faces which
showed the power and ferocity of the punching Halmich a flattened nose, swelling
above the left eye and internal capillary bleeding to her eyelids. Sutcliffe
the bad head cut and a black left eye and swollen fingers in her right hand.. BOTH
Women deserved praise for their guts and skill. A fight of the highest order !
Sutcliffe ... deeply disappointed ... said " I believe I won the fight The crowd said it all. I
will say no more than that!"
Halmich speaking in English paid tribute to Sutcliffe " It was a very hard and a very
close fight. I showed a lot of respect for Michelle Sutcliffe. She was a real good
fighter and I think we really did show a good fight for the public from Berlin "
It was close and she was in top condition."
Halmich agreed, if the purse was large enough, to give her a rematch in England
Copyright John Wilson NUJ Freelance
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Page last updated: Monday, May 31, 2004