My ‘Best’ fight – My first loss, after my first win.

Jess Roper vs Abi Turp – Sunday 26th February 2017

Have I had a ‘best’ fight?
This is a hard question to answer and the obvious choice would be my first title fight. Everything just went right!
But, I am actually picking my 3rd fight, as it pushed me to my limits and also created such a sense of satisfaction in my own ability as a fighter and true respect for my opponent!
It was an incredible fight. From start to finish it was a war. Not just a brawl but a true and technical display of the heart, determination, and skill involved in female fighting. With two women, giving it their absolute all in that ring. That moment is over in less than 10 minutes. But that moment is the product of at least 8 weeks of emotional and physical turmoil. That moment also lasts forever, in our memory. So, I’m going to share my memory of it with you!

Winner by Split decision – Abi Turp
It’s such a raw and gutting feeling to lose, after giving something your absolute all!

It was on the 26th of February 2017 that I fought Abi Turp, for our rematch. I lost my first fight to her but had gone on to win my following fight. A fight that I had won unanimously but which still left me feeling like I could ‘perform better’.
Abi had gone on to win 2 x World Championship fights in Italy.
And I knew Abi would push me to ‘perform better’ and was keen for the challenge!
So, I gave it my all in training and could see noticeable improvements in both my technical ability and my mindset too. For the first time in my fight career, I could almost say I felt confident.

Yet, I lost this fight, on a split decision; so one judge said I won – I like that judge!
But I have never considered this fight a loss. Yes, on paper (and my record!) it was. But in my mind, it wasn’t.
It is one that I am happy to reflect back upon and I one that I am truly grateful to have had that opportunity to be part of, against such a skilled opponent, and to have managed to hold my own successfully!
Abi deserves great credit as an extremely talented fighter, with kick technique then probably still superior to mine now. We also both have the utmost respect for each other, as all fighters should!

The ‘leaky ear shot’

Abi may have had better kicks but I thought I had better boxing. I have always heavily worked on my hands and it’s the power in my punches that wins me fights now!
We both often refer to the shot above as ‘the leaky-ear shot’.
Her words not mine; we met in the toilet after the fight and she claimed that my right hand landed with such power that she thought her brain might be leaking out her ear!
But, in her credit, nothing phased her and she just kept coming back with more!
I remember a superman punch narrowly missing my face, a jumping roundhouse that luckily landed on my guard, and a sidekick landing clean to my stomach, right at the end of the 3rd round. I felt that one! Luckily it was the end of the fight.
The rest of the fight is a bit of a blur, but I can assure you it was a fantastic fight – I’ll have to upload the video one day!

We both had good side kicks.
Abi’s jumping roundhouse

So how did I actually feel after the fight?

Initially, gutted. Gutted, to have lost. Gutted for it to have been SO CLOSE, yet still to have not had my hand raised.

I quickly overcame that gut reaction though.
Everyone agreed that it was a fight to be proud of.
And upon watching it back, I cannot fault my performance. I did my best, and that’s all that can ever be expected!

Then what?
I have gone on to win 2 English titles and Abi is returning to fight K1/Thai rules, after a break from fighting due to life commitments; moving in with her boyfriend, studying at university, and a new career!

Will fight 3 ever happen?
Who knows… but rest assured, if it does it will be an incredible one and one that’s not to be missed!

Fighters don’t succeed without great coaches!

All photos are credited to Jon Snapaway Rothwell. These images remain my best fight photos to date, due to his exceptional photography skills and the technical display from both of us on that day, in that ring.
It truly is a pleasure to reflect back upon and I am glad it has been captured to such a high level to help share the memories with you all!

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