Ebanie Bridges: “To punch through her like that and stop her so quickly is a really big statement.”
Ebanie Bridges convinced many with her performance earlier this year on her first visit to the UK. Despite coming up short against Shannon Courtenay, it was the type of fight and performance where you lose very little in defeat.
The Australian is perhaps the most confident fighter I have ever spoken to, but the odds were heavily stacked against her. Written off by many as nothing but a lingerie model, only in the fight because of the number of followers she has and the way she promoted herself to get that large following, little was expected of her.
But if you listen to Bridges for even the shortest amount of time the confidence and self-belief shine through. You get to believe, convincing you that she knows something we don’t. Bridges fought through adversity against Courtenay, and fighting not only to win but to prove a point to the doubters.
The journey took its latest step this past weekend at week 2 of Eddie Hearn’s Fight Camp, a tough opponent in Bec Connolly, Bridges was expected to win but a points victory looked the likely manner of victory.
The Australian talked about making a statement against the durable opposition in front of her, Bridges delivered exceeding even her own expectations:
“I’m happy with the fight, it certainly finished earlier than I expected. I didn’t think Bec would last 8 rounds with me, she could, but I didn’t think she would. I am so much stronger now, punching much harder, my feet are better my balance is better, I can get myself into position easier now. We had a game plan and I stuck to it. Jab to the body, hit to the body, I always wanted to go to the body to weaken her so I could stop her in the later rounds. I also jabbed her to the body so I could bring her hands down so I could land that over-hand right. It worked sooner than I expected, I found my range straight away. I have been practising that punch for the last few weeks because I couldn’t use my left hand. I did say I wanted an early night so I could get some Pizza.”
Connolly was stopped in the 3rd round and Bridges convinced a few more doubters that she is a little more than what some would like you to believe.
Bridges has left family, friends and the day job behind. The chase for glory is one of many sacrifices. Having her first ‘proper’ training camp in Philadelphia, an extensive labour of love, the search for perfection is a painful one. The improvements are obvious, and Bridges could not hide her delight as she told FightPost the extent of the change in her development:
“I can see such a big difference, my feet, everything is 10 times better, and it will stick with me because over this past camp it has got embedded in me. Usually, I am so rushed and it’s not enough time to get that muscle memory. It was 8 weeks solid in Philadelphia, don’t get me wrong it was hard at first getting my legs conditioned, sitting on my shots, bending just using my legs properly. At first, my legs were so tired but I had to tell myself to keep pushing through it. Once they were conditioned it was easy work and that’s what happened. I felt so good, so relaxed having my feet under me. The power is there I bring my feet with my punches now, rather than going over or lifting up.
“I expected Bec to come forward and keep punching with me, but she did a lot of holding which was a bit annoying and frustrating. I think she felt my power in the 2nd round and she didn’t want to fight with me after that. It was the perfect shot to the temple in the 3rd round I punched right through her.”
The performance was impressive, but the usual negativity from certain sections of social media was nevertheless still predictable. The reluctance to give Bridges any semblance of praise or credit left some searching for excuses and reasons to justify their opinions.
Connolly was weight drained, a narrative without merit was pushed, the losing fighter offered no excuses only praise for the winner. Even in defeat, Connolly retains that touch of class and reality. Bridges deserved better, and the armchair critics will not devalue the win and the performance. Bridges knows she made her point:
“Bec never made any excuses, she had the perfect camp and a full camp as well. She cut weight beautifully, her conditioning wasn’t an issue she was fighting at a weight where she should be fighting. Bec has cut far worse for her fights with Ramla Ali and Ellie Scotney. Some people even said the fight was stopped too early, you should have seen her she didn’t want to be there. The referee stopped it perfectly. Bec isn’t arguing it that temple shot took away her legs, it takes a long time to recover from a punch like that, another punch she would have been on the ground anyway.”
Having landed on the stage that she desired, all the followers in the world will not keep her there unless she actually wins fights. Bridges (6-1) was under pressure, to not only win but perform to a standard that satisfies her high standards:
“I felt a lot more pressure for this fight compared to the Shannon fight, not from anyone else just from myself. I wanted to look good against Bec it was important to me because of everything I had learned in Philly and I wanted to make sure I put it all into practice. To punch through her like that and stop her so quickly is a really big statement.”
There is that argument that Bridges was only signed to Matchroom and given a world title shot because of the number of followers she has on Social Media. Is that the way boxing is now, some say? But boxing has always been that way. Promoters are in boxing to make money. Fighters have nearly always had to sell a certain amount of tickets to get a spot on a show, the size of their following determines plenty.
With YouTube channels and money generated by clicks, Social Media following brings a new dimension to the sport. Bridges is clever enough to understand that the more followers a fighter has, gives extra commercial value to that fighter, including to any prospective promoter looking to sign them or have them on their shows.
But there is more to the Ebanie Bridges story than the size of her Social Media following, or indeed the ‘show’ before the fight. Bridges has proved she can fight, and make no mistake, she is an incredibly dedicated fighter. Bridges is boxing mad, she knows her sport inside out. This is no cut and run, she is here for the long haul.
For the time being, Bridges has given up her life in Australia. The pain of being away from her boyfriend, family and friends is deep. Bridges misses them all badly, she hasn’t seen them since March, but she knows it’s a decision she had to make. The best chance of realising her potential is to be in America. Bridges will leave no stone unturned to be successful.
Eddie Hearn has spoken of his wish to get Bridges on the Josh Warrington card early next month. If Bridges does get on that Leeds show, it will likely be a stay busy fight, but the ‘Blonde Bomber’ is ambitious and will want a world title fight in the near future. To be fair, she wants it now.
Bridges at 34 is a fighter in a hurry. The voice at the other end of the phone is one of impatience, a desperation to not waste any more time. Bridges has come a long way in such a short space of time, but in typical Bridges fashion, it’s not enough, nowhere near enough, she wants more, much more.