Before: "Erica's stepping into a bit of a jackpot," a confident Gabby U says in prefight. "We didn't just move against her by accident: we pored over the top fighters, looking for girls who are especially vulnerable to my skills, and guess who graded out on top? Erica Durance, of the top 25 women in the sport is the least able to handle my blend of quickness and skill. I will hurt Erica; I will embarrass Erica and in the end? I will beat Erica's butt in that boxing ring!" Durance amused at the hot-talk from Gabrielle - Erica's not buying the line. "Look, Union's a skilled boxer, there's no denying that," Erica admits at podium. "But I'm not exactly a slug in the ring. If she's counting on speed alone, I think it's going to be a heartbreaking experience for her, because I'm as fast as I need to be, to get into position to win fights. At some point, she's going to have to punch and get work done, and when that happens, we'll see who's vulnerable to what." Gabby in bright yellow bikini with bra-style top and twist-tied cups; white gloves; slick, short ponytail. Erica in royal blue sport top; crimson sport-bikini bottoms; yellow gloves; hair in loose, dark curls.
During R1: Early trade in rights and lefts goes Erica's way...delayed effect in Gabby's legs as she steps out, stumbles, then looks alarmed as her legs rebel. Union backing into ropes: right hand at left shoulder; left hand at right elbow - she be bobbin' at the waist. Erica: squaring up - using the left to push and prod; placing thick, thumping right hands in Gabby's waist/above her left hip. Erica trying the short uppercut: grazing contact only as Union's head proves elusive in pocket. Durance working for points: nice defensive looks from Gabby to minimize harm.
R2: Erica on the march: Durance bright-eyed, intense, walking Gabby down. Union circling, feinting, keeping her distance. Typical engagement: Union retreating while flopping out smoke-screen left jabs...Durance walking through it mitts-at-mouth...Gabby walks Erica into right uppercut off right (back) plant-leg...Durance absorbs it, pounds away thudding left/rights to ribs, trying to finish hook-on-chin...Gabby rolls, slips, clinches for ref's break...repeat.
R3: Same as the second - Gabby denying decisive battle as much as she can - circling and retreating, trying to lure Erica into traps. Durance confidence growing with her belligerence...she's walking through Union's jab; eating Union's slappy combos; banging back hard to Gabby's ribcage. Points for Erica: she's shiny-faced from Union's flurries, but Durance is hammering out the rounds through 3.
R4: Gabby stepping to spots, but standing her ground to receive Erice: Union now looking to fight battles of her own choosing. Gabby: elbows in, chin tucked, hands up...she'll paw the jab to guide Erica in; slap-chop the right hand to mouth; slap-hook the cheek; slap-clout the right to Erica's jaw. Brisk stuff - Gabby keeping elbows in, just whirling her hands at Durance, slapping and chopping her Ivan Robinson style, then bobbing under Erica's angry receipts. Durance lumping up, her punches curling over top Union's head/back as Gabby's right in front, making Erica miss; making her pay.
R5: Same again - Gabby loose, flat-footed, but bendy-waisted in the pocket, walking Erica in, beating her to combinations. Elbows-in, slap-choppy hooks and right hands from Gabby: she's pasting Erica's pretty face tic-tok; dipping under the receipts; licking extra left hooks off Erica's liver. Midway through - punishment adding up: no one punch enough to shift Erica, but time and again, she's pasted into staring stupor as Gabby's quick mitts clap away. Erica: right arm crossed atop left as she's leaning into punishment - Gabby just striping her girl upstairs and down. Final minute...Erica baby-stepping forward, taking shots...Union steps out, flopping out that smoke-screen jab as E wanders forward, then: SNAPPING RIGHT UPPERCUT, GABBY U! Erica's head snap-lolls; her hands drop; she's backpedalling on her heels as Gabby jumps forward, chopping right hands to drowsy face and DOWN GOES ERICA! Durance stunned, on her back, picking her head up off canvas in blinking astonishment...Gabrielle bellowing down like Ali on Liston until ref pushes her back!
R6: Gabby: intense now, feeling her oats...weight on left (front) leg as she chops the jab; slap-chops the right hand; clips the left uppercut to chin, then doubles down to tuck left hook to liver. Erica: sleepy; arms crossed as she blunders forward, getting her face spanked. Union sidestepping, turning her girl midring, cleaning up on her - crowd SCREAMING as Erica faces into spectacular punishment. Durance all busted up, not pulling the trigger constantly pre-empted by Gabby's jabs, then lit up as Union slaps away in combination. Durance receipts slow, late: she's missing over the top as Union bobs on the spot, then immediately answers back tic-tac-toe. Erica's strong legs holding her up, but what a beating! Gabby U pours one of the worst sustained beatings of Erica's career onto Durance in a glorious Union sixth.
R7: EVEN MORE PUNISHMENT FOR ERICA! Durance arms crossed, eyes closing, lips parted...she encroaches slowly, facing into clever, quick-clipping lefts and rights...Gabby keeping her elbows in, slap-hacking away to her heart's content. After scoring, Gabby sidesteps, touching Erica the jab to turn her, then lighting her up as groggy D faces-in. Union owning Durance for two minutes - just heaping the hurt to her with this slapping punches, but down the stretch: ERICA'S FINDING THE BODY! Durance on autopilot, grimly slugging Gabrielle's waist hard enough to force Union clinches at bell. Crowd roaring: both women breathing hard...Erica by far the more visibly damaged through 7.
R8: Gabby on left (front) leg, pawing out her jab, taking little sliding half-steps back as Erica wanders forward. Jab; slap-chop right; slap-hook to Erica's waist; pivot-clockwise for Union. Erica dazed, slap-groggy...she's turning-with, grimly walking Gabrielle down, routinely catching brisk face-clout. Minute mark, Durance steps into southpaw (right foot/right shoulder forward)...she carries a scooping left into pit of Union's belly as Gabby's looking to dose. Girls pause, both mouthbreathing...Gabby sets to fire righty; eats a BOOMING right hook from southpaw Durance! Head-swivel Gabby...right knee gives way, spilling Union onto her back! GABBY'S OUT! GABBY'S OUT! Durance reeling away in a fog: she's the KO8 victrix in thunderclap fashion.
After: Classy Durance hugging devastated Gabrielle on her stool, offering words of encouragement...Union battering Erica, well ahead on points - one of the best performances of Gabby's career right up to the point of chin-capture. "Girl backed up her crap," a battered, deeply relieved Erica D admits in postfight. "She talked her talk, then walked it: very quick fighter, very cute...her speed makes her tough. She's not a big hitter, but she was punching me dozy - I just couldn't get off against her. Dug down and dug it out: sometimes you have to win ugly, you know?"
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