Chapter 11: Is It Enough?
The night came too quickly for Lea, but she didn't complain. She was waiting for the match and trying to clear her head of nervousness. Alonso, Fergus, Lea, and her friends went to the venue, where the match would take place. Again, Lea's match was an under card, but it felt something bigger for Lea, since she was fighting against a strong opponent. The air in the changing room was heavy for Lea and her seconds. The first match of the tournament was going to be difficult. None of them expected such a thing, but they couldn't back down from it, especially Lea. Luisa was in another room, feeling the same thing as Lea. Luisa's previous opponents didn't made Luisa nervous, not even a little, but Lea was different. Luisa couldn't put it in words, she just felt it. Her coach saw her face and tried to calm her down.
Sitting at Luisa's left was a Werebear with salt and pepper hair, just like his fur. He had his hair combed back, simply because he liked to be presentable.
The story of the Werebears came from the Greek mythology of Callisto. Callisto was turned into a bear by a jealous goddess. The mistake in the myth was that she was half-bear, half human. The male Werebears looked more like bears, instead of humans. They had the ears, small bear tail, the fur around their bodies, and the face of one. Of course, they didn't have as much hair as a real bear, but enough to warm them up. Their female counterparts were a little different. They had the ears, the tail, and they had fur, but it only covered from hands to elbows and feet to knees. Their face and body were still human-looking, unlike their male counterpart. They all shared similar things, like the brute strength of a bear, their impressive sense of smell, and capability to resist cold weather. Humans believed the Werebears to be cursed animals, but that was far from the truth. They have existed for a very long time. They simply preferred to stay out of sight because of the dangerous times. In modern times, they were normal citizens, mostly doing labor work and living in cold places, but they have spread out throughout the world.
"You okay? It isn't like you to look nervous." Asked the Werebear.
"I'm okay, coach. I just don't know why I'm so nervous. I've never felt like this before," answered Luisa.
"Is normal, as far as we have seen, she's not an easy opponent," answered the coach with a smile to cheer Luisa up.
"That might be the case, but I don't think is as simple as that."
"Well, once you get in the ring, you might calm down. Why don't you get warmed up before it starts?"
"Yeah, thanks, George." Luisa started to throw some heavy jabs and straights.
"This is the first time that I have seen Luisa like that. She's usually very calm in every match, having confidence like none other. Her next opponent, Specter, didn't exactly give me the air of someone strong. This might be her instincts telling her to stay on guard against her. I wonder if she has met her match."
In Lea's changing room, they were having the same problem, but for different reasons.
"Oye, chica, start warming up." Ordered Alonso, not wanting Lea to let the pressure get to her.
"Y-yeah," said Lea, who started to do as told, weaving and throwing punches. Even if she was warming up, her mind was somewhere else. "Dammit, dammit, I can't get rid of this feeling, I couldn't think of anything before the match. Those words are always circling in my head, is like they are avoiding me, not letting me think on them. Can I actually beat her with just this? No! I can't think like this, everyone has been supporting me this far, I have to save Julie and the kids. I can't give up so quickly, I have to do anything that I can to win!" Lea started to look livelier than before, which didn't escape Alonso.
"Whatever it is that is making her regain her spirit, I hope it stays with her. If all else fails, then we will have to rely in her determination alone. Do your best, chica, and I will do my best to keep you safe." With those silent promises, the air became less heavy, and Lea was just waiting for the call.
Hilda, Alinda and Salena were in their seats, waiting for Lea's match to start.
"Hey, what do you guys think about Lea's match? Do you think she will win?" asked Salena.
"Of course, she defeated a ranked boxer before, remember?" Answered Alinda.
"I know, I was watching too, but this feels different. Even Lea was different." Alinda and Hilda started to notice that Salena was nervous.
"Yeah, as if, she doesn't feel confident about this match."
"Well…considering her opponent, I guess anyone would feel the same, but we can't think like that. We have to show support for her." Alinda tried to cheer Salena up.
"Don't get me wrong, I'm going to cheer for her too."
"Anything can happen in the ring. Let's just have faith in her. It's the best we can do for her," said Hilda, who was more serious than she could ever be.
"Yeah, you guys are right, I'm sure something will come up in Lea's favor," said Salena, who started to feel confident on Lea's victory. They all hear the announcement, saying that the match will start soon. They all started to send their good lucks to Lea, in hopes that she could win the match.
A staff member entered Lea's dressing room and told Lea to get ready to fight. After hearing that, Alonso and Fergus got up from a bench.
"All right, chica, let's go." Alonso started to head out of the room. Lea pounded her fists together and responded.
"Yeah!" Lea showed good energy, no longer bothered with doubts and the like. They all head to the ring, ready to face the brawler, Luisa Sanchez. Once they get to the arena, Lea was greeted with cheers from the audience. Some of them said how much they wanted to see her, how much they expect her to win by KO, and how much they want her to win the tournament. Lea's reputation seemed to go up faster with every KO victory, which was what most of the audience liked to see. She responded by rising a gloved fist and waved it to the crowd, still not used to the cheers. Luisa wasn't far behind, she had some supporters, who said around the same things that Lea was told. The difference was that some of them were of Mexican heritage. The boxers got into the ring, they were introduced by the announcer, and the referee called them to the middle of the ring to explain the rules. Both boxers were staring straight into each other's eyes, making many in the arena believe that they had a feud with each other, which wasn't true. They were trying to send a simple message: "I'm going to win."
Once the referee finished with the rules, both boxers headed to their respective corners, and waited for the bell to ring. Before that, their trainers tried to give advice to their boxers.
"Remember, chica, go in fast and get out fast, hit when you're sure you won't get hit. Above all else. Don't. Stop. Moving. Got it?" Alonso said to Lea.
"Got it." Responded Lea, who was given her mouthpiece and got ready to start at any time. In the other corner, Luisa received advice from George.
"She's another in-fighter, but don't underestimate her, she might have thought of something to give you a run for your money." George warned Luisa.
"Don't worry. I'm not going to fall so easily. Eventually, I will land a punch and end it quickly," said Luisa, who put her mouthpiece on and mentally prepared herself for the match. After that, the seconds were told to leave the ring and the only ones in it were the boxers and the referee. The boxers faced each other from their respective corners, staring at each other, and thinking on how to start the match. There was no more time for thinking because the bell ringed.
Both boxers came out of their corners, Lea using the Peek-a-boo defense, while Luisa simply moved forward. Lea dashed towards Luisa, but stopped a few feet away from her when Lea noticed Luisa getting into her usual stance. They were both close to the center of the ring, staring at each other, waiting to see who would do the next move. Lea circled around Luisa, who easily followed Lea, not letting her out of sight. Lea kept trying, showing her new speed gained through training. It was futile because Luisa had no problem keeping track of Lea's movements. Even with the new level of speed, Lea was unable to out slide Luisa. However, Luisa didn't know if she would be fast enough to react when Lea decided to attack. Lea didn't find any way to get out of Hilda's sight, so she decided to stop and face Luisa head on. Luisa got ready to start exchanging punches, watching for the opportunity to attack. She didn't have to wait for long, Lea lowered herself and rushed in. Luisa was prepared to throw a downward punch with the right. Lea quickly moved to Luisa's left and punched Luisa's liver with the left hand. Luisa felt the punch, but after taking the hit, she threw a left punch at Lea. Luisa's punch hit only air because Lea had already left even before Luisa threw the punch. After that, Lea started to slide in circles around Luisa, and Luisa kept her eyes on Lea.
"That was fast, faster than I thought, but speed won't be enough to bring me down," thought Luisa, who was impressed, but she didn't let it show on her face.
"I knew it. My punch might be strong, but Luisa is resilient enough to endure and fight back," thought Lea, who was been careful, knowing that a punch from Luisa could be dangerous and Lea didn't know if she would be able to resist it.
On Luisa's corner, George was surprised by such a quick in-fighter, and the fact that Lea was able to dodge the attack.
"That was completely unexpected! Specter was fast enough to dodge the punch and land one of her own on Luisa," thought George, who looked at Luisa and he could see that Luisa wasn't showing signs of too much damage. "Good, she was able to endure the attack. That was a nice try, Specter, but it will take more than that to bring Luisa down." On Lea's corner, things were a little calm.
"That was a good one, chica, keep at it. Don't rush it, pick your moments to attack carefully and you will win," thought Alonso, and he knew that it was just the beginning.
Lea kept going in circles around Luisa while thinking of a plan against her. Lea tried to remember the videos of Luisa's matches, trying to find some clue. Unfortunately, Lea didn't find anything useful, especially since most of those fights ended in the first minute. After a while, Lea started to notice that Luisa was going to move. Lea prepared herself to avoid direct confrontation with Luisa, but Luisa didn't moved towards Lea. Instead, Luisa moved to the nearest corner, stood her ground, look straight at Lea, and beckoned her with the hand. Lea didn't move, but she knew what Luisa just did. Luisa moved to the corner to prevent Lea from circling around Luisa, and Lea knew that the only option left was to attack from the front. Luisa wasn't done yet, she also put up a defense that Lea hadn't seen before. Luisa crossed her arms in front of her, and everyone else knew that it was none other than the cross-arm block.
"I've no idea what that is, but I won't let it stop me," thought Lea, who moved forward, and started to attack with left jabs from a distance. Lea kept throwing jab after jab, but none of them seemed to work. After a few more jabs, Lea started to throw a right straight, but Luisa was already ducking. Lea saw that just in time to stop her punch and move away. After Lea moved away, Luisa stood up, put back her cross-arm block, and waited. At that moment, Lea realized that been careful wasn't going to get her anywhere. "All right, you want me to fight you face to face? Then I'll fight you face to face!" Lea rushed in and stood in front of Luisa. Right after Lea did that, Luisa dropped her guard and put her brawler stance. Then, the entire audience went silent because they knew that fists would start flying at any moment.
Back in Lea's corner, Fergus was starting to panic, while Alonso looked calm about the situation.
"Coach, Specter shouldn't be taking such a direct approach, she should play it safe and attack from a distance," said Fergus.
"I don't think it would work for long. Luisa seems to be a very sharp boxer, it was just a matter of time before she found a way to force Lea into a direct attack." Said Alonso, who hoped that it wouldn't come to that, but on the inside, he knew that Lea would have to face Luisa. "Chica, remember your training and don't give up."
One minute had passed, and none of the boxers had thrown a punch. They were just staring at each other, watching, waiting, thinking if they should attack or not. Then, Lea attacked with a right hook to Luisa's head, but Luisa ducked the punch. Luisa retaliated by throwing a right uppercut at Lea's chin, but Lea was fast enough to dodge the punch by leaning back. Lea went back into the in-fight without fear and hit Luisa's body with a left punch. Luisa ignored the damage and threw a left hook at Lea's head, but Lea used the right arm to block. Luisa landed the punch on Lea's guard and launched Lea's arm to the side.
"Holy crap! That's an insane punching power! No wonder she won all of her matches with a KO!" Thought Lea, who didn't have time to think on it because Luisa threw a right straight at Lea's head. Lea ducked the punch right on time and regained her balance before she threw a left uppercut at Luisa's chin. Luisa dodged by moving the head to the side and threw a left hook at Lea's head. Lea ducked the punch and retaliated with a right uppercut to Luisa's chin. The punch landed, but it was all part of Luisa's plan. Right after taking the uppercut, Luisa threw a right hook to Lea's face. Lea noticed it too late to dodge and took the punch, which turned her face to the side. Everyone in the audience thought that Lea was going to fall, but they were surprised when they saw Lea hit Luisa's liver with a left punch.
"She can take it?" Thought Luisa, who wasn't expecting that to happen because she won most of her fights with a single punch.
"I resisted the punch, I thought I was in trouble, but the training saved me," thought Lea, whose discovery gave a boost to her morale. "All right, let's do this!" Lea continued her attack with new confidence.
Back on Lea's corner, the tension that the seconds were feeling was starting to leave.
"She resisted one of Luisa's punches. This must be the results of her training, right?" Said Fergus, who was glad to see Lea standing.
"Exactly, a strong lower body tends to give the ability to absorb more damage than normal. I knew she couldn't dodge all of Luisa's punches, so we had to get her the ability to absorb it. We are going to win this tournament, go without hesitation and you will reach victory," thought Alonso. He spent most of his time to find a way to help Lea on this match. The results showed his dedication, not only to the match or to victory, but to make sure that the boxer came back in one piece. That was one of the biggest responsibilities of a coach.
The fight between those fierce boxers continued with Lea landing a right hook on Luisa's head. Luisa hit back with a left hook to Lea's head, but Lea hit back with a left hook to Luisa's liver. Then, Lea used the same arm to throw a left uppercut to Luisa's chin. Luisa hit back with a right hook to Lea's head, but Lea didn't stop and hit back with a right hook to Luisa's head. Then, Lea landed a left uppercut to Luisa's chin. Luisa attempted to hit back with a left hook, but Lea was ready for it and ducked the punch. Then, Lea threw a right uppercut at Luisa's chin, but Luisa dodged it by moving the head to the side. Unfortunately for Luisa, she wasn't fast enough to dodge the left hook that landed on her head. Lea continued with a right hook to Luisa's head, but Luisa made it into a simultaneous exchange by throwing a right hook of her own. The audience was so amazed by such a fierce fight, that they started to cheer for both boxers. Lea was about to throw a left hook, but she noticed that Luisa was about to do the same thing. Lea stopped her hook and ducked Luisa's punch. After that, Lea remained low and started to focus her attack on Luisa's body. Lea landed a right punch on Luisa's body. Luisa used both arms to push Lea away, but Lea took that chance to land a left uppercut on Luisa's chin. Lea continued to attack by landing a right hook on Luisa's head, but after taking the hit, Luisa hit back with a left hook to Lea's head. Lea threw a left hook, and after landing the punch on Luisa's head, Luisa hit back with a right hook to Lea's head. Lea threw another hook, but Luisa decided to duck the punch and land a right punch on Lea's body.
On Luisa's corner, George kept watching the fight with a serious expression.
"I'm a little surprised that Specter was able to resist that many punches from Luisa, but it doesn't matter. Luisa has more punching power and resilience than Specter. If things continue like this, then we will win." Thought George, who had seen Luisa take many punches in her career and no one had been able to take her down. On Lea's corner, they were surprised to see Luisa take that many punches and still standing.
"I know that brawlers posses tremendous resilience, but this is just ridiculous." Thought Alonso, who hoped that it won't get worse.
Two minutes had passed, and none of them seem to gain the upper hand on the other. Lea threw a left hook at Luisa's liver, but Luisa threw a right hook at Lea's head, which made it into a simultaneous exchange. Lea continued with a right hook to Luisa's head, followed by a left uppercut to Luisa's chin. After taking the punches, Luisa landed a left hook to Lea's head. Then, Luisa threw a right hook, which Lea ducked. After ducking the last punch, Lea backed away from Luisa. After that, they suddenly stopped punching, which surprised the audience.
"What should I do next? Keep fighting like this? She must be hurting after all that, she must have slowed down, but can I rely on that? Is it enough to defeat her? No, I can't think like that, I have to keep fighting, I have to keep punching!" Thought Lea.
"I'm surprised that you've lasted this long, but it won't matter because I'm going to win!" Thought Luisa, who was sure that she would endure more than Lea. Luisa had survived worse things in the street than in the ring. Lea went back to Luisa and started to attack with a left uppercut to Luisa's chin, but Luisa dodged by moving the head to the side. Luisa attempted to hit Lea with a left hook, but Lea blocked it with the right shoulder. After that, Lea hit Luisa's chin with a left uppercut and continued with a right hook to Luisa's head. Luisa tried to fight back with a left hook, but Lea expected that and ducked the punch. Lea didn't let up and landed a left hook on Luisa's liver. Luisa feinted a left hook, which made Lea duck. After fooling Lea, Luisa threw a right hook at Lea's head while Lea threw a right hook at Luisa's body. As everyone expected, it turned into another simultaneous exchange.
In the audience, Lea's friends were watching the ferocious exchange of punches, and they didn't know who was having the upper hand. That didn't stop them from cheering for Lea, but Alinda and Salena didn't notice the serious expression on Hilda's face.
"Man, things are starting to heat up. I simply can't take my eyes off of this match," said Salena, who could feel the intensity of the match.
"I agree. This is the first time that I have seen something like this." Responded Alinda, but in her opinion, she would have preferred a more tactical match. Hilda had other thoughts in mind, but preferred not to say it because she was hoping that her thoughts were wrong.
Lea continued with a left uppercut to Luisa's chin, which Luisa dodged by moving the head to the side. Luisa changed her pattern of attack and threw a left uppercut at Lea's chin. Lea also dodged by moving her head to the side and landed a right hook on Luisa's head. After that, Lea expected another hook, but Luisa decided to throw a right hook at Lea's body. Since Lea wasn't expecting that, the punch landed without problem. The punch caused more damage than normal and it stunned Lea for a moment.
"About time you stopped throwing punches at me. Now, let me return the favor!" Thought Luisa, who took the opportunity to land a left uppercut on Lea's chin, which forced Lea to back away from Luisa. Luisa didn't stop there and charged in. Once Luisa got to her punching range, she threw a right straight at Lea, who recovered fast enough to put her Peek-a-boo guard. The punch broke through the guard and landed on Lea's face. Lea was pushed back again and Luisa rushed in with a left straight. Lea was prepared for it and ducked the punch. Then, she quickly moved into her preferred range and landed a right hook on Luisa's body. Luisa attempted a right hook, but Lea had the space to move to Luisa's left and land a right punch on Luisa's body. Right after that, Luisa realized that she needed to head back to the corner, but Lea wasn't going to allow that. Lea quickly moved to Luisa's side and started to throw punches at Luisa's body. That forced Luisa to change directions, and once she was far enough from the corner, Lea started to target Luisa's head. Lea would have continued with her attack, but the referee got between them at the sound of the bell. After that, the referee ordered both boxers to their corners, which they obeyed without complain.
Lea reached her corner and sat down on the stool. As soon as Lea sat down, her seconds started to check Lea's condition.
"You did well. I wasn't expecting Luisa from moving straight to the corner and we should expect the same thing in the next round. With that in mind, I want you to get in another in-fight against her, but this time, throw as many punches as you can. So many punches that she won't be able to fight back, got it?" Said Alonso. He didn't know if it would work, but it was the best he could do at the moment. Lea had a different opinion.
"Is that going to be enough? Can I do damage to her with that?" asked Lea, and the seconds could hear doubt in Lea's voice.
"What are you saying, chica? Even the toughest boxer has their limits, and you know it." Lea didn't respond and looked down. "Listen, chica, one of the worst things for a boxer to have is doubt. Do not doubt your training, but most importantly, do not doubt yourself." Alonso could understand the feeling, but it won't help Lea if she kept thinking about it.
"Yeah, okay, coach." It had the desired effect. Lea looked back to Alonso, showing with her eyes that she didn't have any doubts.
"Good, don't lose hope. Persevere and you will find victory, got that?"
"Yeah, you're right. I can't give up here, I'll keep fighting, even if my tail stops moving, even if my arms stop moving, I'll keep fighting."
"Good, bien dicho. I wish I could tell her something that could actually help her in this match, but I just don't know what. It all depends on you, chica."
On the other corner, things were different.
"That in-fighter is giving you a run for your money, especially when she kept you from reaching the corner," said George. He knew that Luisa wouldn't do well in open space, but he didn't worry about Luisa falling.
"You're right, I wasn't expecting her to do something like that, but I don't think that it would have mattered that much," said Luisa. She could have some problems if she fought Lea in the open, but Luisa was confident that she would have endured everything.
"More importantly, what's your condition?"
"I'm a little sore from all of those punches, but I don't think is anything to worry about." Luisa never told George, but there was a time when she took a pipe to the head. She survived the hit and knocked out the person that used the pipe on her.
"That's good to hear. Just stay on the corner and keep piling the damage on Specter. We can expect her to reach her limit in the later rounds." After George said that, Luisa only nodded in response and used the remaining minute to rest as much as possible.
In the audience, Lea's friends were looking at Lea and started to wonder if everything was going well or not.
"It's too hard to tell who was the superior one in the last round, but I did notice that Lea landed more punches than Luisa," said Alinda.
"She sure did, but I'm more surprised that Luisa was able to take all of them and continue fighting," said Salena.
"I agree, but if Lea doesn't think of something to take her down, she might lose the fight," said Hilda, which got the attention of Alinda and Salena. When they looked at Hilda, they noticed the serious expression on Hilda's face.
"It looked like she was doing well on her own," said Alinda.
"Exactly, it looked like it, but it won't be enough."
"What are you talking about?" asked Salena.
"Brawlers rely on tremendous brute strength to defeat their opponents, but they also have the toughness to endure the worst punishment. We can say that a punch from Luisa is the same as 2 punches from Lea." Explained Hilda.
"So, you're saying that Lea might lose in the latter rounds? That can't be right. Lea is very strong, so she might be able to last the entire match." Salena didn't want to admit that Lea could lose.
"All we can do is hope that Lea can win this." That was all that Hilda responded. After that, they all went silent and looked back at Lea, praying that she can come out on top. The seconds were ordered out of the ring and the boxers put on their mouthpiece. They got up from their stools and waited for the bell to ring.