Shannon O'Connell and Taylah Robertson trade jabs in their Commonwealth Female Bantamweight title showdown - Photo: Tasman Fighters - Instagram

In an incredibly tactical fight, tough veteran Shannon O'Connell retained her Commonwealth Bantamweight title with a split decision win over Taylah Robertson

Shannon O’Connell (22-6-1, 10 KOs) has retained her Commonwealth Female Bantamweight title with a split decision victory (94-97, 96-94, 99-92) over Taylah Robertson (3-1, 1 KO) at Tasman Fighters’ Gold Coast Fight Night II.

In a true showcase of Australian Women’s boxing, the back and forth,10 round affair lived up to the hype attached to a fight billed as a clash of two generations.

The more senior O’Connell opened up the fight in strong fashion, taking the centre of the ring and jabbing to the mid-section. Subsequent attacks to the head were well avoided by Robertson however, who used sharp head movement and foot speed to her defensive advantage.

An overall tempered first stanza was followed up by more action in the second and third rounds, where both fighters fully displayed their contrasting styles. The technical, “stick and move” displays of Robertson were met front-on by O’Connell’s desire to move forward, land punches in close proximity and clinch when necessary.

A crucial moment occurred late in the fourth as O’Connell was finally able to penetrate the high-level defence of her opponent to land a heavy overhand right.

Not to be deterred, Robertson started the following round eager to return fire. Her series of lightning-fast straight right punches provided the perfect segue to a drama fuelled countdown to the bout’s midway point.

When the fighter known as “Shotgun” landed back to back overhand rights, the 23-year-old Robertson fired a crisp lead left hook-straight right combination.

As the bell sounded to signify the halfway mark, the fight teetered in the balance for each competitor.

Knowing that the movement of her foe was beginning to cause problems, O’Connell made her intentions clear at the start of round six by charging across the ring behind a powerful right cross. Such an uptake in aggression proved to be a justified tactic as she began to score more frequently.

Spurred on by the prior two minutes, the reigning Commonwealth Champion started to flow in the seventh and eighth, throwing multiple combinations that targeted both body and head.

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Still, Robertson weaved, living up to the “matador” moniker bestowed upon her. Particularly evident in her game plan was the ability to land punches while exiting from danger. Time and again, a stinging hook found its mark as she circled to the right.

In a testament to the elite conditioning of both combatants, the proverbial game of high level “cat and mouse” continued to the final bell. For every powerful shot thrown by O’Connell, an equally game Robertson remained resilient, ever-willing to evade and strike accordingly.

Ultimately, it was the harder punches and aggression of O’Connell that carried weight with the judges.

With the win, the 38-year-old veteran not only retains her Commonwealth Female Bantamweight title but also moves one step closer to the World title shot she so desperately craves.

A full replay of Gold Coast Fight Night II is available above on Tasman Fighters’ Vimeo channel

Despite coming up short, Robertson should not be deterred by her performance.

One of the main narratives heading into the meeting revolved around how the 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist would negate the significant gap in experience. If at all a consolidation, it is clear that her lack of time spent in the professional ranks proved to be no hindrance against one of Australia’s best.

Most important of all though, the mantle of Queen of Australian Boxing remains untouched for O’Connell, who prides herself on standing above her peers.

Speaking in the ring post-fight, the victor thoroughly broke down the performance.

“She’s fast and I did what I had to do to land the better shots,” O’Connell told in-ring interviewer Skye Nicolson.

“It did go down exactly as I expected because I definitely didn’t expect her to stand and fight me.”

In the co-main event, Luke Woods (7-4, 2 KOs) caused a major upset with a unanimous decision victory (97-92 x 2, 98-91) over Ethan Law (5-1, 4 KOs) for the Australian Super Welterweight title. After surviving a knockdown in the second round, the Tasmanian battled on and showed poise to control the remainder of the bout.

The remaining title fight on the card saw undefeated prospects Jacob Wyllie (5-0, 4 KOs) and Dana Coolwell (6-1, 4 KOs) square off for the Australasian Lightweight title. The action-packed, eight rough affairs resulted in a split decision, which went the way of Wyllie (75-77, 79-76, 77-75).

For full results of Tasman Fighters’ Gold Coast Fight Night II, click here.

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