Hanna Gabriels Fends Off Sturdy Attack from Argentina’s Abril Vidal
By David A. Avila
Nothing extraordinary was expected, yet Costa Rica’s Hanna Gabriels was forced to pull out her veteran’s bag of tricks to out-fight Argentina’s young gun Abril Vidal and retain the WBA super welterweight world title by unanimous decision on Wednesday.
Gabriels was forced to earn the victory.
Fighting in front of a hometown crowd, Gabriels (20-2-1, 11 KOs) utilized her experience and skills to fend off a relentless attack from 20-year-old Vidal (8-1, 3 KOs) who made the champion earn every round. But the Argentine suffered her first loss as a professional.
Gabriels started quickly behind a sharp jab and effective left hooks. Vidal couldn’t find the range in the first round and seemed a bit out of timing. That would change.
In the second round Vidal began using her own jab as a range finder and soon closed the distance gap. Some solid blows connected especially a lead right cross that caught Gabriels flush.
Costa Rica’s favorite athlete regained control of the distance in the third round and used an effective body attack to slow down the rushes of her younger foe. The body blows seemed to surprise Vidal.
Gabriels attacked the body again in the fourth round but Vidal was quick to counter with a right cross. Gabriels attacked the body again and both fired combinations to try and gain an advantage in a very close round. Vidal ended the round with a one-two that connected.
In the fifth and sixth rounds Gabriels seemed to be able to gauge what worked against the Argentine fighter. She began controlling the distance better with her jab and quick combinations and slipping the return fire. Vidal never quit but was missing more blows than her Costa Rican foe.
The seventh round saw Gabriels open the action with a left uppercut but Vidal held her ground and fired back ferociously with one-two combinations. Neither fighter wanted to give ground and each landed flush blows. Despite the hard hits, neither was ever in danger of going down. Abril seemed to rally for her best round since the fourth round.
Maybe Gabriels sensed that the fight could slip away and mounted a rally of her own after absorbing three big right hands from Vidal. The Costa Rican used a strong jab to stop the Argentine’s momentum and then fired three and four-punch combinations to end the eighth round with a bang. It seemed to change the momentum.
Gabriels began slipping and countering more effectively in the ninth round and in the final 10th round she seemed to reach back for an extra gear. Gabriels was able to fire, slip and fire even more as Vidal seemed unable to connect with anything solid. Gabriels kept the action going and seemed to save her best for the last round. Her experience seemed to be the final factor in her dominating the last frame.
All three judges scored the fight in favor of Gabriels 96-94 and 97-93 twice. She retains the WBA super welterweight title a fifth time.
“It was a privilege to fight at home in my home country for my people,” said Gabriels who is co-promoted by DiBella Entertainment. “And to give this type of excitement.”
It was indeed an exciting fight and a splendid introduction to Argentina’s Vidal.
The female world title fight was streamed by UFC Fight Pass on a well-produced show stemming from Central America.