Imogen Thomas' steady rise up the BBU bantamweight rankings has gone largely unnoticed, but there's no denying the fact she's knocked out all her three opponents thus far and deserves a lot of credit. She hopes to keep her perfect record alive against Gabrielle Cilmi who makes her debut tonight and comes in as a rather unknown entity. Thomas scoffs the fellow brunette before the fight, probably still being upset about being ommitted from the Welsh bantamweight title clash where Charlotte Church and Katherine Jenkins settled the matters.
Both girls enter the ring very focused and stare at each other with determined look in their eyes. Even if Thomas comes in as a favorite, she's not taking anything for granted judging by her demeanour before the opening bell. The crowd should be well behind her too; even though she's not the most popular Welshwoman after the disclosure of her affair with footballer Ryan Giggs which made the headlines some time ago. The fight is scheduled for ten rounds in the bantamweight division.
Imogen Thomas wearing a black bikini and red gloves. Gabrielle Cilmi wearing a navy blue bikini and red gloves.
Cilmi circles around the ring either looking hesitant on her pro debut or scared of Thomas' reputation. The Welsh brunette steps and forces a reaction from Cilmi, but it's a slow one, half-hearted sidestep to the right gets punished with a big hook from Thomas which goes all the way around the gloves and catches the stunned Gabrielle in the cheek. Imogen immediately follows up with a right hook to the other cheek and Cilmi gets literally thrown to the ropes. Talk about a wake-up call! Thomas fires from both sides, burying her rival under a barrage of punches early on and Cilmi can only weave around on her feet, trying to avoid Imogen's leather. She keeps her guard in tact but Imogen enjoys a training-like session of boxing, peppering the fellow brunette with well-placed blows and meeting no resistance. The crowd starts to whistle, this is not what they expected, Gabrielle's completely overwhelmed by the opportunity for most of the opener. Inside the last seconds Thomas scoffs with anger, unable to score a quick knockout, most of her punches landed on the arms and made no real damage apart from the general impression and Cilmi responds with a left hook which results in a loud crowd reception after it lands on the Welsh brunette's cheek. The Aussie can throw a punch, what a surprise! Thomas jumps away and shakes her head but Cilmi remains rooted to the spot by the ropes and looks might relieved to hear the bell.
Another aggressive charge from Thomas, however she fakes a couple of early punches and delivers a crushing low hook to the ribs which rocks the Aussie. Cilmi cringes in pain and loses her balance for a moment but Imogen's uppercut follow-up grazes her gloves and proves a waste. Gabrielle clinches, tries to punch her rival in the back but Imogen shoves her away and throws a jab to the nose which Cilmi was unable to cover up for. She wince again, and Thomas unloads a low combination to the guts, forcing the Aussie brunette to bend down and absorb more punishment. Once again, Cilmi is backed against the ropes where she covers up and Imogen continues with the attack. She throws nasty jabs from both sides, trying to soften Gabrielle up, but can't nail her in the face. Desperate ducking and weaving from Cilmi as she manages to clinch Imogen's arm and drag her down. Thomas leans on Cilmi and almost pushes her out of the ring between the ropes as the ref steps in and separates the women. Imogen throws a wild punch to the mouth before the command! Cilmi weaves her head and avoids that one but the ref is furious and sends Thomas back to the opposite corner and gives her a strong lecture. Official warning for Imogen Thomas for an illegal punch!!! The Welsh glamour girl looks furious but Gabrielle circles around the ropes for remainer of the round, avoiding any close encounters. Thomas curses in her native Cymraeg language and the crowd gets very vocal as well, hard to say whether they're angry because of Imogen's lack of execution of Cilmi's defensive demeanour so far.
Thomas fires early in the third, aiming at Cilmi's head, but the punches catch the leather again. Gabrielle responds with a couple of low jabs to the ribs and Imogen winces but counters with a huge hook to the nose. Cilmi gets caught and looks stunned! Crowd roars in approval as the Welsh faithful lands more vicious jabs to the face, opening Cilmi's guard for the first time tonight. Gabrielle looks to jump away but stumbles and gets nailed one more time in the nose by one of Imogen's flying hooks and bends down, her arms wide apart. Thomas closes the distance in a flash, lands a couple of more jabs to the face and down goes Gabrielle on her backside looking totally blown off her comfort zone. Crowd errupts in joy, but Cilmi helps herself back to her feet with both arms and wipes out a little blood from the nose in the proccess. She beats the count at seven, but Imogen charges with another jabbing sequence. Cilmi raises her gloves expecting more punches to the head, but Thomas targets the midsection instead. Couple of big hooks land on the ribcage and Cilmi grasps for air with difficulty before lowering down her arms. Imogen pushes her to the ropes with more nasty jabs in the stomach and the Aussie wobbles around on her feet. Loud chants from the crowd "Finish her, finish her" and Thomas tries desperately to send the fellow brunette down on the floor for the second time. However Cilmi's stomach muscles pass this test of strenght and Imogen's pounding just isn't vicious enough. Thomas slumps in a clinch, tired of fruitless gut-punching, Cilmi leans on the ropes with her eyes close, she looks much worse to wear, but remains upright at the bell much to the crowd's annoyance.
Cilmi breaths heavily during the interval and her stomach has developed a serious reddening after all those jabs from Thomas landing clean, but she's up for the fourth, throwing hooks at the bemused Welsh brunette. Imogen circles around, bides her time, looks for a different plan to crack the Aussie. Gabrielle steps up, unleashes a hooking combo to the head and Imogen gets nailed!! Her head snaps back a couple of times and Cilmi follows up with a brutal uppercut out of nowhere. Thomas bends down and moans in pain loudly as Cilmi throws single jabs to the struggling opponent. Crowd gets silent for a moment as Imogen tries to clinch and wobbles around the ring, seeking a breather. Gabrielle lands a couple of punches to the back of the head and now ref steps in and gives her a warning. Thomas takes a break along the ropes, having been let off the hook by Gabrielle's lack of focus. Rookie mistake enables Thomas to catch her breath and she circles around the ropes as Cilmi's unable to trouble her anymore in this round. Few swings from the Aussie, but her footwork is still not up to the task and the local favorite survives until the bell after a surprisingly bad round.
Cilmi looks more aggressive at the start of the fifth, that earlier knockdown has been put into bed it seems and Thomas is more concerned about that dodgy round she'd endured in the fourth. Gabrielle steps up, tries to take more advantage of it and lands couple of jabs to the chest before another uppercut just misses Imogen's jaw. Cilmi suddenly very excited with her prospects, unloads a low combo to the ribs and has the Welsh brunette ducking and weaving in the middle of the rings. Thomas looks to have forgotten about her superior footwork and allows Cilmi to catch her in the stomach with more low jabs. Loud moans of pain add further confidence to the Aussie but she can't quite damage Imogen's face as the local girl's high guard remains in tact so far this round. A brief struggle occurs in the middle of the ring before the referee separates the women and immediately after the command Cilmi throws a hook to the cheek and closes in with a jabbing sequence to the ribs. Thomas covers up for those and responds with a left hook to the guts herself and catches Gabrielle just above the waist. Both girls trade punches in the middle of the ring and out of nowhere, it's a vicious slugfest, Thomas with chaotic attacks from both sides, nails her rival in the jugs and a follow up tears Cilmi's cheek causing the crowd to get louder one more time. Gabrielle was throwing a big hook herself, but got caught just a whisker before and wobbles on her feet, feeling that big punch. Another loud moan of pain, but this time it's Cilmi who struggles and Thomas charges with a jabbing sequence to the stomach. Gabrielle's rooted to the spot, almost gets headbutted by the oncoming Welshwoman but Imogen's struggling for breath as well and both girls fall into a clinch to the ropes. Ref makes little effort to separate them and the time is up for the round anyway.
Both girls clearly struggle in the stamina department at the half-way stage after a messy previous round and Cilmi's has a nasty cut on her left cheek which her cutmen attend to for a long time during the interval. Thomas jumps out first from her stool and immediately throws a hook to the head which goes around Gabrielle's gloves and catches her in the nose. That stops Cilmi in her tracks, she bends to the side and allows Imogen to throw a couple of nasty jabs to the ribs. Gabrielle tries to jump away but stumbles when another hook nails her in the side of the head and suddenly Thomas screams like a woman possessed and throws another big hook from the left. Cilmi reacts, weaves around, but it's a faked one from the Welsh girl, a right hook comes crushing from the other side and lands straight on the Aussie's nose. Gabrielle is completely stunned by that one, stumbles forward and wants to stay upright by holding onto Imogen's thighs but the local favorite jumps away just in time as Cilmi crashes to her knees just in front of her!!! Ref steps in and starts the count as Gabrielle bends down even further, her head now touches the canvas. She tries to get up at six and beats the count at eight but when she finally shows her face to the crowd, it's a mess. The cut on the wound was opened wide and the nose is bleeding extensively as well. Cilmi's eyes fill with tears and allthough she nods her head for the ref, she looks in a lot of trouble. The man in charge allows her to continue, surely a wonky decision given the state of Gabrielle's face and the Gunners corner is furious. Cilmi is slow on her feet, clearly affected by that knockdown and hardly moving again. In fact, she's not moving anymore, just waiting for Imogen's final charge. Left, right.. couple of more hooks land straight on the face and there's an uppercut finale as well. Gabrielle was a sitting duck ever since that knockdown, her gaurd is gone and the ref seemed to enjoy an extra pleasure by not stopping that bout earlier. Cilmi falls on the ropes with her head slumped on the shoulders, blood pouring from the cuts and she's not responding. Imogen charges up to her, what's the referee doing? Nothing! This could get downright ugly for the Aussie... and then it comes... the Gunners throw the towel which lands right in front of Imogen's feet and stops her from slaughtering Gabrielle for good. It's all over, Thomas spits out her mouthpiece which lands right on Cilmi's tummy as she slides down on her backside and sits in a catatonic shock afterwards. TKO R6 Imogen Thomas!!!
Crowd goes ballistic and Imogen climbs the ropes, paying little attention to her fallen rival. The unbeaten run continues for Thomas who's four out of four and the state which she left Gabrielle Cilmi was even more impressive than Pilar Rubio last November. This being said, a major blip in the fourth round would have been punished more severly by an experienced fighter and Gabrielle Cilmi wasted her only chance of turning this bout around.
Another issue was a couple of dubious calls from the referee. Allthough he gave Thomas a warning in the second round, it was so obvious even Stevie Wonder would have noticed that rabbit punch. The sixth round was a disaster and towel had been throwed only to save Cilmi from a very messy knockout, something that the referee should have prevented within his powers earlier. There was no need for any extra help as Thomas was dominating the bout and came out a deserved winner regardless.
Final result: Imogen Thomas def. Gabrielle Cilmi TKO6 (Corner Stoppage).
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