Fight review by
Women's Boxing Page correspondent Kevin Cockle
You can't really write about a Mia St. John fight the way you would normally review action in the ring. What occurred on this week's Friday Night Fights at San Antonio's Sunset Station is really incidental to the story. The real narrative here lies outside the ring, starting with the fact that this fight would be Mia's first outside the protective umbrella of Bob Arum's Top Rank organization. The subtext is Mia's proposed showdown with Christy Martin, in which St. John will have to fight somewhere north of 130 for what one has to assume will be a relatively attractive sum of money. These two strands are interwoven - Christy is the pay-off fight for Mia's career, a pay off that Arum would have been entitled to share in had he maintained control of his fighter. Unfortunately for Arum, fighters who can grasp the realities of celebrity, marketing, and media can and will attempt to control their own destinies. Unfortunately for the fighters, they also have to deal with the somewhat unforgiving reality of fighting, and winning, in the ring.
The last time I had seen Mia, she was involved in a surreal, but entertaining affair at the Playboy Mansion against a similarly packaged Francesca Alcanter. Technically, I was curious to see if Mia's 22-0-1 (12) record had rubbed off on her: 23 developmental fights is a decent amateur career for a female fighter, maybe she'd show some growth. Fighting at a soft 131, the 5'7" St. John had advantages in height and weight over the 5'3", 126lb Rolanda Andrews, advantages that seemed to suggest tactical options for St. John. As the fight got under way however, it was obvious that Mia would not be exploring those options on the evening.
St. John adopted the Oscar de la Hoya version of Floyd Mayweather's closed stance for this fight, tucking her chin behind her left shoulder, stepping forward and keeping her right hand up around her mouth while slapping or measuring with jabs and hooks. Andrews for her part, was an active southpaw, ranging clockwise around the taller woman, looking to walk Mia into punches and countering effectively off the block. Mia had moments when Rolanda backed to the ropes where St. John could get off with her clubbing side to side punches, but Andrews was calm, countered effectively and showed no sign of caving under Mia's determined pressure. Before the fight, Rolanda had made some pretty bold statements considering her record, but after one, she appeared more than capable of backing up her claims.
The second round opened to Andrews taking more of the initiative, landing with lead lefts, getting out of Dodge, forcing Mia to follow. St. John continued to march in with the Mayweather look, walking Andrews down but not cutting off the ring. Rolanda began to pick Mia up nicely on the way in, and continued to turn the bigger woman around the ring. You could feel it coming. Mia squared up to reach in with a right, got caught cold by the shifty southpaw's right hook, and sprawled hurt on her right side as Andrews crowed. Up on borrowed legs, St. John stared in confusion, almost not responding to the ref, but gamely continuing on as Andrews poured in to finish. Sizzling lefts and rights crashed against Mia's head and guard as she wilted into the ropes and as Mia's skull started to loll dangerously upon impact, the ref put a halt to the affair with 42 seconds left in the second round. St. John seemed stunned on her stool as officials checked her left eye. Andrews celebrated as though she had just bludgeoned King Kong. It all seemed anti-climactic somehow.
St. John seems torn between the tangible world of the ring, and the insubstantial world of promotion. The decision to take Andrews as a tune up for Martin is something a real fighter would do. Coming off the canvas and carrying on is something a real fighter would do. But the reality is, St. John was never going to beat Christy Martin, and if exposure is inevitable, you've got to get exposed for the maximum amount of money possible and take your bows. Betrayed by legitimate fighting instincts, Mia St. John gave her critics a lot of ammunition tonight and one wonders where she goes from here. Continue to take hard fights in the hopes of developing real skills? Or get in with Martin if that fight is still available and squeeze whatever value is left out of the match up? Clearly, Arum would not have made this mistake. With Top Rank, that curtain wouldn't have been drawn back until the Wizard of Oz was good and ready.
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