Kali Reis narrowly survives to win dubious split decision win
In her most recent in-ring assignment, WBA junior welterweight champion Kali “KO Mequinonoag” Reis (19-7-1, 5KO) notched the second defense of her title. She accomplished this by defeating Jessica “The Cobra” Camara (8-3, 0 KO) by way of a controversial split decision. The win was somewhat unusual as it was technically the second bracket in an overall tournament to determine one undisputed junior welterweight champion.
Her winning technically does not come as a shock as Reis was undoubtedly the most experienced fighter in the tournament. The Rhode Island native has fought a who’s who of boxing and challenged for world titles in four different divisions. Even better, Reis entered the bout riding a three-year, five-fight win streak. Armed with this experience, and her talent, many hold her as the favorite to win the whole tournament. That did not alter how she would go on to struggle mightily with the Cobra
The defeat will be a bitter pill for Camara to swallow. The solid athlete enjoyed a healthy amateur career that saw her win the 2014 Golden Gloves, and 2015 Canadian Elite national championships. As a professional, she has had a fairly good run despite suffering two losses. Her second loss came at the hands of Melissa St Vil back on February 8, 2020. Luckily the Cobra was able to bounce back with a meaningful unanimous decision won over Heather Hardy. That win, on May 14, was the match that set her up for her dustup with Reis. Now, she will have to return to the drawing board to devise a new plan of action.
EVEN OUT THE GATE
The opening round began with both women initially testing the waters and ended with them throwing with significant power. Reis was effective fighting out of the southpaw stance but it was Camara who landed the more eye-catching shot. This is precisely why Reis literally ran out of her corner to meet the Cobra in the corner for the second. Once there, she buried two shots into her belly. Over the course of another evenly contested round, the two women swiveled one another’s heads with crisp, pinpoint hooks. This time, it was Reis who appeared to score more of the flashy shots.
The pace of the fight slowed a fraction in the third as the Rhode Island native’s left hand came to life. Fighting out of the orthodox stance, which she had since the second, was working for her. With the jab and hook, especially to the body, Reis was able to stabilize Camara just a bit. Then early in the fourth the Cobra rocked the champion with a left hook that gave her pause. With blood drizzling from her nose, a rugged Camara marched forward for the remainder of the fourth and fifth rounds. In the fifth period, the Cobra snapped Reis’ head with another left hook that seemed to affect her.
LAST MINUTE DRAMA
By the sixth period, the momentum was firmly in favor of Jessica Camara. Even worse for the champion, Reis appeared to be wilting and found herself eating flush shots throughout the round. Reis was having a better seventh round until her tenacious challenger landed a series of crunching left hooks. The blows clearly drained critical energy and somewhat softened her knees. While Reis never took a backwards step, or performed less than a warrior, she was getting trampled on like a Caribbean dance floor at carnival.
Yet in the tenth and final round, Kali Reis managed to cut Camara over the left eye. Hampered with the cut, and only about a minute left, the Cobra suddenly fought and performed in a very sloppy manner. Seeing the shift, the champion began hammering her with unanswered one-two combinations right down the pipe. While the shots really did hurt her, Camara weathered the storm and saw the final bell.
When the scorecards were read, Reis won a rather dubious split decision win that was lightly booed by the audience. In fact, even the champion looked surprised to hear that she won the contest. While the win certainly didn’t come in the fashion that she wanted, Reis is now one step closer to becoming undisputed champion.
By: Bakari Simpson
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