Pursuing the life of a pug. A boxer. The smell of sweat and deprivation matched the humidity and heat from the lights. There had to be a better way of making a living. That time has passed. Once the taste was acquired, it was all over.
I could smell the leather before it hit me. The twist of the hide tore at the flesh, leaving it raw only to be hit again.
My arms ache after weeks of repetition and work. The effort that lasted until there was nothing left, only to push it further. The dull feeling of energy quickly dissipating made the body wish it had not consumed so much fast food hidden against orders. The time that should’ve been used to do more roadwork, as the endurance and lung capacity are now being felt at maximum capacity.
A flash of bright light makes me realize I need to bob and weave and move my head as another flash, while I think, tells me to hurry. My calves scream, but my thighs and back are moving perfectly in unison.
A spray of blood surprises me but then makes me realize it’s not mine. The left jab is working. All the time has paid off. I hear the yelps when the hooks connect with the other guy. His eyes tell the story. I pictured mansions in Vegas in my mind. Gold and cars with badass paint jobs with girls in bikinis. My momma in the church is smiling with her friends. My dad is laughing with my uncle.
Sharp pain in my liver wakes me up and makes my sight go dark.
A thud on the left comes out of the darkness and my neck screams. My nose feels like water and the taste of copper wakes me up as I’m blinded by multiple headlights and a feeling of panic as my legs are light. The fear of going back home empty-handed makes me jump up without knowing.
My legs are wobbly and my vision is foggy and my mind tries to catch up while my body moves from the threat. Got to keep punching as I try to catch my breath. Visions of returning to my neighborhood give me the resolve to stop running.
The bell rings and I fall into the corner as my trainer throws water in my face and lights me up with smelling salts and four-letter words. The cut man smears vaseline. Something burns my eyes as blood streams from who knows where.
Hands push my body to my feet as the bell rings. The other guy runs over as I move left to circle and a fierce barrage starts and my feet shuffle away without thinking. Move your head and throw jabs and watch his eyes. Everything moves on reflex.
Blows to the arms as my balance is fading. There is a sensation of stumbling backward. A seemingly endless search for the ropes ended and I fall into them. An opening in the fusillade allows multiple jabs to be thrown.
Suddenly awake, my training again takes over. A left jab makes it through his defenses. More jabs make their way through like horses running a hole in a fence. He raises his hands, then my hands are lowered. I remember the shot he gave me to my liver and I pay him back.
He squeals like a stuck pig and I follow with two lefts to the ribs and a left uppercut in a combination that would have made Mike Tyson proud. I miss with a right because he’s in retreat. Two left jabs and a lunging right hook connect, and then I swing a left hook in the air because he’s gone.
Almost falling over his fallen body, I catch myself in the ropes. He’s getting up and I’m getting nauseous because there is nothing left for me to draw on. As the referee counts seven, the other guy pitched forward and landed on his face.
It was over. All over.