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Sandy Ryan Proves Her Worth in Impressive WBO Welterweight Title Victory

Sandy Ryan delivered a spectacular performance in her first major title fight, outclassing Marie Pier Houle of Canada to win the vacant WBO welterweight title. The judges scored the fight in favor of Ryan with wide margins, with Christophe Beaurain scoring it 99-91, Howard Foster 98-92, and Marco Moscadelli 97-93. The fight was aired on DAZN and took place on Saturday evening at the Cardiff International Arena in Cardiff, Wales.

Ryan demonstrated her superior skills by not getting dragged into her opponent's pace, which led to her only career loss in just her fourth professional fight a year ago. The former amateur standout from Derby used her jab and slick footwork to avoid early punishment. Meanwhile, Houle charged forward behind her jab and tried to work the body.

Houle closed the gap and landed a combination upstairs late in the second round, but Ryan took the shots well and returned to her desired distance before connecting with a right hand in the final ten seconds.

Ryan displayed greater commitment to power shots in the third round, connecting with a lead uppercut that Houle brushed off but had no immediate response to. Houle was forced to tie up Ryan after taking an overhand right late in the round.

Despite Houle's determination to win the major title, her aggression played into Ryan's hands, as Ryan consistently landed uppercuts and left hooks on the unbeaten Quebecer in round five. Although Houle showed a sturdy chin, she was unable to respond, and Ryan ended the round with a digging left hook to the body.

Ryan opened the second half of the fight with the same tools that produced frequent success in the preceding rounds. Although Houle extended her jab and offered looping left hooks, she was often beaten to the punch before she could launch her own shots. Ryan walked through a left hook to rattle off a flurry of power shots upstairs, trapping Houle along the ropes.

Houle stormed back in the seventh round, but Ryan widened her attack in the eighth round. Ryan's jab remained key, and she followed up with right hands around the high guard of a defensive-minded Houle. Action remained one way in round nine, which saw Houle frequently clinch as Ryan pressed forward in an effort to stamp her arrival on the title scene. A right uppercut snapped back the head of Houle with 30 seconds to go in the ninth.

In the final two minutes, Ryan continued to push for the knockout before eventually settling for the wide decision win. Houle showed heart and grit but was forced to accept her first defeat as she fell to 8-1-1 (2KOs) in her first title fight and also first career fight outside of North America.

Ryan advanced to 6-1 (2KOs) with the win, her third straight since a ten-round, split decision loss to former titlist Erica Farias just thirteen months ago. An early indication of her resilience came in her insistence to immediately run it back, winning their rematch just five months later and following up with a ten-round shutout of former lightweight titlist Anahi Esther Sanchez last November 26.

The WBO belt was relinquished by Jessica McCaskill in the weeks following her defeat to Chantelle Cameron in their undisputed junior welterweight championship last November 5 in Abu Dhabi. Chicago's McCaskill still holds the lineal, WBC, and WBO welterweight titles and also fights for her old IBF belt in a forthcoming clash versus Ivana Habazin later this June.


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