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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Cohen and Nieto Fight to Majority Draw

Dr. Stefanie Cohen and Marcela Nieto fought to a majority draw at Sport Society in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in their featherweight contest today. Cohen's technique vastly improved since her debut, but she had trouble mounting offense besides her jab.

A big moment came when Stefi entered the ring, her surname "Cohen" stitched in yellow across the beltline on the back of her black trunks. The United Arab Emirates recognized the state of Israel only last year, on August 13, becoming the third Arab nation to do so.

Cohen, 29, is a world-record breaking powerlifter, a legend in that sport. She came to boxing less than two years ago. She won her first fight by TKO, but her punches and footwork were crude. In the first round of this bout, Stefi exhibited much sharper technique. Her feet quickly darted in and out while she snapped her jab at Nieto. On the inside, she landed a short right to the body and effectively slipped Nieto's attempts at offense like a seasoned boxer.

On the outside, Nieto waved her wide punches. At one point, she ran to get close to Cohen firing arm punches along the way. But mostly, she posed, taunted, and waited. Cohen's movement and defense frustrated the 33 year old from El Bagre, Colombia until the end of the second round. Nieto landed a short right on the inside and Cohen's nose began to resemble a certain reindeer named Rudolph. It was the turning point in the fight.

The blood poured down Cohen's nose early in the third. She landed her jab, but Nieto found a home for her short rights in close at the end of the two-minute period. One after the other, Cohen absorbed those painful rights. Nieto's short right was tighter and more powerful than her wide punches from the outside.

After taking punishment at the end of the third, Cohen boxed behind the jab in the fourth. Nieto landed a clean short right to the body at one stage and a counter right over the top later in that last round. This final round posed the age old question for judges: How many jabs equal two hard power shots? Two of these three judges answered that whatever the number of jabs, Cohen hadn't connected with enough of them.

A ring announcer's job may look easy, but it's not as simple as you think. There is a certain order in which to read the scores to maximize the drama and clarity. Today's ring announcer flubbed his job. The scores should have been read, "Judge A scored the bout 39-37 for [insert boxer's name]. Overruled by judges B and C who scored it... 38-38, a majority draw." Instead, this announcer read the two even cards first, draining the act of any drama, and then revealed the 39-37 score without mentioning which fighter won on that card. As it turns out, the 39-37 score was somewhat surprisingly for Nieto 

Cohen, who is now 1-0-1 with one KO, looked much better from a technical standpoint but came away with a draw. While her footwork, technique, and jab were all better, she telegraphed her overhand right and didn't have another punch to throw off the jab. She quickly ran out of offensive ideas. As a result, her attack was limited, and once Nieto figured out how to get inside Stefi's jab, Marcela found more success. Nieto, 2-0-1 with one KO, was also a better opponent.

A light moment came during the post fight interview. Cohen, a native of Caracas, Venezuela and a resident of Miami, Florida, speaks Spanish and English. Nieto, the Colombian, only speaks Spanish, and the interviewer spoke English. So Cohen served as translator for her opponent. She didn't fake the translation and claim, "She said I won the fight" or anything, but it was perhaps a bit awkward when Cohen translated, "She has a lot of respect for me. She says I'm tough."

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