Diane Clarke vs. Ann
The Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado on July 14, 2001
by Kevin Cockle
originally published on the Women's Boxing Page
Interesting bout ... live, PPV exposure for Ann Wolfe who is quietly being promoted as female boxing's next 'bad' woman.
Although Diane Clarke (at left, above) came in well regarded as the classic underdog with a pulse ... a southpaw with skills and some pop -
there was little question that she was the opponent this evening. Both women took this fight on one week's
notice and both sported similar records ...Wolfe 8-1-0 (5 KO's), Clarke 7-2-0 (4 KO's) ... but the similarities ended there.
Clarke hadn't had a fight in two years, was obviously softer than her chiselled foe, and standing face to face for
instructions appeared to be much shorter than Wolfe's listed 5'9". The questions seemed to be: how good would Wolfe
look, and is she really the goods at 160?
Ann looked to end the discussion with the first punch of the night, a vicious straight right hand that announced right
away her bad intentions, and a possible indication that she had had some experience against southpaws in training.
As Wolfe loaded up and threw right hands, Clarke moved her head, kept her lead foot outside Wolfe's and immediately
sent the message that she was not going to be intimidated. Straight left hands from Diane chased Wolfe to the ropes
and Diane found it easy to step with her foe, stay in position and keep Ann moving backwards. The rest of the round
evolved into Ann throwing everything hard, not setting up her punches but making the fight ... Clarke stepping to her
right, making Ann miss over the top and fighting well enough in spots to blur the scoring. At the bell, both women
had gotten things done, both had looked like real threats to the other, and a good solid action fight was under way.
Round Two continued the hard punching pace as adjustments were made all around. Wolfe unpacked her jab, realizing
that she was missing too much and began to use her feet to change distance, moving in and out on Clark. Ann also
looked to counter punch more, possibly because of the low connect percentage, and the fact that Clarke wasn't shy
about coming in straight and strong. At about the midway point, Wolfe got wrong-footed, started swinging wildly,
and Clarke made her pay. Diane stung the taller woman with a short right hook and forced Ann to the ropes ... Wolfe
once again retreating straight back, head up, chin out. By the end of the round however ... Wolfe was inducing Diane
to retreat with monster right hands and left hooks. Clark, it seemed, could get to Ann with little bursts, but
couldn't take the risk of standing in long enough to finish.
In the third, Wolfe once again retreated to the ropes, but was still in charge, looking to score with counter
right uppercuts, and Clarke was beginning to fade. Conditioning became a factor as Ann's legs became livelier,
her movement crisper, and her punches were just as lethal as before, except that now she was finding the range
with a weird pitching right hand, the left hook and the right uppercut. Clarke in retreat was starting to tire,
getting nicked more often and in the last 20 seconds, she ducked into a ponderous right uppercut from Wolfe that
seemed to stagger Diane. Clarke would get out of the round, but you could sense that punch was the beginning of
Wolfe wowed the announcers with a serviceable Ali shuffle to open the fourth, and the move may have landed a telling
psychological blow on the visibly wilting Clarke at this point. Ann came on like a freight train ... eyes intent on her
foe, looking every bit the heavy handed finisher she was built up to be in pre-fight. Clark's form began to degrade
as her stamina abandoned her, and although Wolfe's punches generally landed with glancing force, they were getting
there more consistently. Clarke was starting to get soundly beaten. A vicious right hand skidded off the top of
Clark's head and had Diane sputtering, guard down around her stomach, legs looking weary. Down the stretch, an
inaccurate exchange had Clarke off balance and she tumbled to all fours more from exhaustion than any contact ...
correctly ruled a slip by the ref. In the final moments, a slinging right hand from Wolfe had Clarke hurt and
ready to go, but once again, Diane would survive to hear the bell.
It would turn out to be the final bell of
the scheduled six rounder ... Diane Clarke wisely gave it up on her stool, prompting a pumped Ann Wolfe to jump
up and shout "NEXT!" into the camera. No bravado there ... Ann Wolfe clearly conveyed the idea that she wants
anyone, anytime with this very confident performance. For her part, Diane Clarke did appear to be a nifty
southpaw. It would be nice to see her get more work, get into shape, and have the opportunity to really show
what she can do.
So what have we got? Is Ann Wolfe the future of female pro boxing? She is a
very strong puncher, and she's got decent wheels ... you get the sense that she's a better athlete than most of
her opponents and may be able to get by on that for a while. But Wolfe has a lot to learn technically ... defensively
she's not quite there, she doesn't move her head, she moves straight back, she stands far too erect and relies too
much upon her legs. These things put her in the category of 'exciting' fighter for now, and she certainly is that.
Laila Ali is in her distant future as promoters can build Wolfe as a sort of Sonny Liston type intimidator, although
outside of the ring she is reputed to be a real sweetheart. No matter ... on camera, she's menacing as hell, and it's
refreshing to see a woman being promoted for the danger she represents.
As long as Lucia Rijker remains incognito,
Wolfe appears to be as bad as it gets right now.
© Kevin Cockle
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