By Jake Donovan
Holly Holm looks to exorcise all of her demons in one shot, while Anne Sophie Mathis seeks to prove last December was no fluke. Those are the stakes as two of the best female fighters in the world rematch tonight at Route 66 Casino in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Both fighters made weight for their 10-round main event, a rematch to Mathis’ brutal 7th round knockout win over Holm last December. Mathis weighed 145.2 lb, right around her normal fighting weight. Holm came in at 146 lb. in perhaps the most important fight of her career, most of which has been spent in her Albuquerque hometown.
Their first fight last December was billed as a pound-for-pound showdown. Holm (30-2-3, 9KO) came in as the reigning best fighter in the female boxing world, while the power-punching Mathis flew in from France for her first ever fight outside of Europe.
The primary goal for Mathis (26-1, 22KO) was to make a name for herself; she did just with her highlight reel knockout of Holm. The fight showed the best of both fighters through the first four or so rounds, but a clear indicator that Holm was a bit out of her depth whenever she planted her fight and attempted to trade.
Mathis landed with authority seemingly every time she threw a punch. Holm enjoyed more than her share of success, but never to the point where she had Mathis hurt or could even keep the French puncher off of her.
The fight permanently swung in Mathis’ favor in the sixth, when she landed a monster right uppercut to floor Holm. Inept referee Rocky Burke somehow ruled the sequence a slip, and his officiating would only get worse as he allowed a defenseless Holm to carry on. He can only share a portion of the blame, though, as Holm’s corner saw it fit to allow their punchdrunk fighter to go out for round seven.
Where everyone else failed, Mathis made sure to put an end to matters. Holm was brave but defenseless for all of the seventh, at one point battered into the ropes where she found herself tangled up. Once again, no knockdown was called as the referee instead helped free the fighter from the ropes and allowed action to continue.
Mathis moved in for the kill, putting Holm down and out with less than 30 seconds to go in the seventh. The upset win launched Mathis’ career to new heights, extending her win streak to 25 straight in the process.
A win for Holm would have put her unbeaten streak at the same mark. Instead, she suffered her first loss since 2004. Some tossed around the term “exposed” in the immediate aftermath, but Holm proved her worth wins over the likes of Christy Martin, Mia St. John, Chevelle Hallback and a career-defining win over Mary Jo Sanders.
Holm’s two-fight series with Sanders served as a passing-of-the-torch moment. Sanders entered their June ’08 bout as the pound-for-pound queen, but unable to escape Albuquerque with her unbeaten record still intact as Holm took a unanimous decision.
Their rematch took place four months later in Sander’s home state of Michigan. Holm had no problem performing at her best while on the road, though forced to settle for a majority decision.
Holm and Sanders were both big enough box office attractions to where each getting a hometown fight made sense. Mathis could have held out for a fight in her native France, but had enough business sense to know that a return to Albuquerque was the best move for all, even if it meant celebrating her 35th birthday on Wednesday in her opponent’s hometown.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments via e-mail . Tags: Holly Holm , Ann Sophie Mathis