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Valerie Mahfood's First fight with Wolfe

The Best Fight: Wolfe vs Mahfood
By Bernie McCoy
August 21, 2003
for WBAN Record members,  Flash from the Past photos of their first fight!  Gallery #93
Those who spend their time publicizing the sport of boxing, sometimes known as "flacks", will tell you that "names make fights" (how else to explain the ongoing fascination with Mike Tyson). On the other hand, those who spend most of their time in gyms, leaning against ring aprons, forever known as "the fight crowd", will argue that "styles make fights". Who's right? Well, in a way, both are. Its the "name" fighters that bring in the big crowds and the accompanying publicity, but two fighters with compatible styles can often steal the spotlight once the bell rings.

This, of course, goes a long way to explaining why all the talk and "ink" about Saturday's fight card in Gulfport MS. has concentrated on the main event between the two biggest "names" in Women's boxing, Laila Ali and Christy Martin. However, it is very possible that the best fight on the card that night will be the undercard bout between Ann Wolfe and Valerie Mahfood. This could clearly turn out to be a case of "styles over substance".

The Wolfe/Mahfood fight is a return of a November, 2000 bout in which Mahfood handed Wolfe her first and, thus far, only defeat with, what to many, was a surprising third round KO. In her next fight, Mahfood was, in turn, knocked out by Kendra Lenhart in two rounds. Those two fights provide an epitomizing insight into the career of Valerie Mahfood.

On the one hand, she is a hard puncher who does not take a back step once the opening bell sounds . The three rounds with Wolfe were a quintessential example; both fighters moved to the middle of the ring and began throwing "bombs". This continued, as often happens, until one fighter prevailed. In this bout, it was Ann Wolfe who came out second best. In Mahfood's next bout against Lenhart, her ongoing problem with tall fighters was readily apparent. Lenhart, with a record of 6-8-1 going into the bout, at 6'1", towered over the 5' 6" Mahfood and had little trouble finding the smaller woman with devastating overhand right hands. (Ali has stated that Lenhart hit her harder than any of her opponents thus far).

Mahfood, not surprisingly, had the same trouble in her two fights with Ali, who, at her "listed" 5'10", was able to keep Mahfood at the end of her jab during the 14 rounds they fought over the past year. Unlike Lenhart, however, Ali was unable to get Mahfood off her feet. Valerie Mahfood has toughness to spare.

Wolfe, at 5'9", has a three inch height advantage but failed to exploit that edge in her first bout with Mahfood. Given a choice, Wolfe's strategy preference is to attempt to land her powerful right hand early and often, rather than trying to keep her opponent at long range. Wolfe has used this strategy to advantage in her two TKOs over a tough Marsha Valley in June and December of last year; the second, over ten grueling rounds, which ended with Valley slumped in the corner, as the referee stepped in. (Valley should provide an "interesting" night for the unbeaten and, as yet, untested Vonda Ward in an upcoming cruiserweight championship bout). Wolfe also displayed her one-punch power in two TKOs over former body builder Gina Nicholas (who, after the two bouts with Wolfe, wisely reconsidered her career choice of boxing).

Thus, the Wolfe/Mahfood matchup provides a return bout between two hard punchers who, seemingly, do not know the meaning of the word "backward". Neither fighter is "hard to find" in the ring, both prefer to move forward, seeking to put pressure on her opponent and land a big punch. That's the strategy that worked for Mahfood in the first bout. There's no reason to believe she'll switch tactics on Saturday. Wolfe, who up to this point, had been largely ignored by the Ali "camp", is now, seemingly, in a position, should she get past Mahfood, for a shot at Laila Ali. However getting past Valerie Mahfood may be much easier said than done. Mahfood is a tough, experienced fighter and has the built in advantage of a previous win over Wolfe.

Laila Ali has made a prediction that the main event with Christy Martin won't go past five rounds. That seems, to me, more rhetoric than reality. It is Wolfe/Mahfood bout that probably won't see a fifth round. Both these women hit hard, harder than either of the fighters in the main event, both these women will look to pressure her opponent from the opening bell and neither Ann Wolfe nor Valerie Mahfood will have to look hard for the other one. The "fight crowd" is right, styles make fights and the styles of Ann Wolfe and Valerie Mahfood make for what should be the best fight of the night on Saturday. If you're planning to buy the PPV telecast, be sure you're there from the start. The Wolfe/Mahfood fight is being advertised as the first bout on the telecast. Its not the "big" fight, but there's a real good chance that it will be the "best" fight of the night.



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