Chapter 19: The Specter vs The Maniac
It was the night of the fight, and Lea was waiting in the locker room with her seconds, Alonso and Fergus. While Lea was waiting to be called, she decided to start warming up. After a while, Alinda, Salena, and Hilda, arrived at the locker room.
"Good evening, Lea, how are you doing tonight?" asked Alinda with a smile, in an attempt to help calm Lea.
"I'm ready at any time," answered Lea, who sounded serious, and it made everyone worried.
"Well…we came to wish you the best of luck. We know that you're going to win the tournament." Cheerfully responded Salena, trying to set the right mood for Lea.
"The lass is right, just remember everything you have learned and throw it at Payton's face," said Hilda with sincere faith on Lea's success, but she was worried about Lea's safety.
"Thank you, everyone." Responded Lea while warming up. Then, she stopped, never dropping her serious face. After that, she dropped her arms to her sides and looked at the floor, which made everyone worried. The air in the room became heavy, and they knew that it must be something serious, but they didn't know how serious.
"Coach." Called Lea with a serious tone in her voice.
"Yeah." Responded Alonso.
"I want to ask you for a favor."
"What is it?"
"I want you to promise me, that no matter how bad it looks, no matter how bad I'm beaten, and no matter how horrible it goes, you will never throw the towel." After Lea finished saying that, there was no response, just silence. Lea couldn't see it, but she knew that it must have left them in shock. Alonso was the only one who wasn't surprised by that request. He had a feeling that Lea was going to ask for something like that.
"Lea…You're making it sound like this is going to be your last match," said Alinda in disbelief.
"If this is a joke, then it isn't funny, so don't say stuff like that," said Salena in hopes that it was a joke, but Lea didn't look like someone who was joking.
"This is about your friend, right?" asked Alonso. He could tell, otherwise, Lea wouldn't make a request like that. Lea hadn't told anyone about Julie's predicament, so they didn't know the full story.
"Yeah," answered Lea.
"Is Julie alright?" asked Hilda.
"…I have to win this, I just have to. I can't let this chance to slip away," answered Lea. After hearing that, everyone was silent. They didn't know what else to say.
"Lea…" Said Salena, but she didn't know where to go from there.
"Very well, as long as you promise to come out of this in one piece, then I promise not to throw the towel, deal?" asked Alonso.
"Yes," answered Lea, even though she didn't know if she could keep that promise, but she was sure as hell that she would do her best to win. That brought a sea of protest from Lea's friends.
"Coach, you can't be serious, Lea could get seriously injured here, or worse," said Alinda.
"She's right, coach, you shouldn't make a promise like that. If you need help, Lea, we can help you, there's no need for something like this," said Salena. Lea was been quiet, but then, she spoke.
"Thank you, everyone, but…" Lea turned to look at them with a smile. "This is something I got to do on my own." Lea couldn't really ask them for help because each one of them had a problem of their own. Technically, Lea knew of Alinda and Salena, but didn't know about Hilda's need for money. Still, Lea wouldn't ask Hilda for financial help. Lea was sure that Hilda must have something big on her shoulders. Everyone was quiet once again, but Hilda started to slide towards Lea with a straight face, got in front of her, and stood face to face. Hilda stood there for a moment, looking Lea straight in the eye. Then, Hilda smiled.
"You got this, lass. I know you're going to win this, so go out there, and show her what you got," said Hilda, who lifted a fist, and Lea understood what Hilda wanted to do. Lea lifted her fist, and bumped it with Hilda's fist. After that, Hilda started to slide out of the locker room, and headed straight to her seat. Once Hilda was gone, Lea looked at Alinda and Salena, who were a little surprised about what Hilda said. Then, Salena dropped her gaze to the floor, looking ashamed about something, but it didn't last long. Salena revealed her serious eyes, slid towards Lea, and stopped in front of her.
"I'm sorry, Lea. I shouldn't doubt you like that, I am 100% sure that you're going to win this. I'm really really really sure that you're going to win this, and when you do, we're going to throw a party for you," said Salena.
"Sounds like a good idea," said Lea, which made Salena smile. Then, Lea lifted a fist, and Salena bumped it with her own. Just like Hilda, Salena left the room, leaving Alinda as the last person. Alinda looked ashamed, just like Salena did, but gathered herself and put a more dignified look. She slid straight to Lea, and stood face to face.
"I also need to apologize. I was worried for you because I am your friend, but I should also have faith in you, like a friend should. I believe in you, Lea, so go and win this," said Salena.
"I will." Lea's words made Alinda smile, fists were bumped, and she left the room. Lea was left with her seconds, feeling ready for the match, and grateful towards her friends. "Thank you, everyone."
In another room, Payton was warming up, but the atmosphere was different for her seconds. They felt as if they were standing inside the cage of a beast, or a timed bomb that could go off at any moment. Ever since Payton met Lea, Payton had been different. Her condition might have been an indicator that the opponent was going to be dangerous. Payton didn't even went to her house. She stayed in the gym, and whenever she felt the urge to punch something, she would go to the sandbag and go at it with calculated fury. Many of the members kept their distance, not wanting to fall victim to her attack. No one believed that they could stop her, even if they tried. At that moment, they were just a few moments away to the match, and Payton seemed to be more than ready for it.
"So…Payton, what's your plan against Specter?" asked Benen, not feeling any of the heavy air around the room because he was already used to it. Payton didn't respond and kept warming up, which didn't bode well for Benen. "Payton?" Payton didn't respond again. "Payton!" That time, Payton heard loud and clear.
"Yes?" Answered Payton with no emotion in her voice.
"What's your plan against Specter?"
"I'll just go like always." After Payton answered that, she went back to warming up. That wasn't going as 'always' for Benen. Payton tended to have some kind of battle plan for every match.
"I'm pretty sure that you are barely holding yourself back. You're most likely going to go all out the moment you enter the ring. Even with Specter's new body, I'm afraid that there's still a chance that either one of the boxers is going to end in the hospital, or worse." After the small conversation was over, a staff member entered their locker room to inform them that their match was about to begin. With the staff member's business over, the staff member left the room. "Alright, let's go," said Benen, but Payton didn't answer. She simply turned around and headed to the door. The seconds could see it, Payton's eyes were focused, not to win a match, but to fight a war. When someone went to war, it wasn't about win or lose, it was about kill or be killed. Lea received the same message and prepared to go into the ring.
"Let's go, chica, time to end this," said Alonso, who was ready for anything.
"Okay!" Said Lea with resolve in her voice. There was no doubt, no regret, and no hesitation. With a strong mind and a resolute heart, everyone went to the ring.
The ring was empty at the moment, except for the announcer with the microphone, who delivered a message for the entire audience. It was a message that everyone had been waiting for, the announcement that the finals for 'The Rising Seeds Tournament' was about to begin. Also, the match would be a 6-round match because that was the finals. The audience cheered after hearing the announcement, already eager to see the match of two boxers with nothing but KO's in their records. Those who were paying attention, noticed certain faces in the audience, and it was none other, than Lea's previous opponents in the tournament. Luisa, who was making a name for herself in the Light Heavyweight division, was on her own. Karen, who was been as elegant as she could be, was around the same area. Before Lea's match, she had made a comeback into the boxing world with another KO victory. Last of all, was Tania, who also made a comeback with a KO victory. All of those boxers made everyone wonder why they were there. Of course, that was quickly put out of their minds as both boxers entered the arena, and slid towards the ring. Each boxer had their own fans. Lea's fans were waiting to see another KO from Lea, but Payton was another story. Payton's fans were also waiting for a KO, but the means were a little different. They expected to see a bloody KO, they liked to see the savage side of the sport, and Payton was the only one who could show it to them. Both boxers slid into the ring and went to their respective corners. After the announcer was done, the referee called them to the center of the ring. The boxers did as asked, and the referee started to explain the rules. They didn't pay attention to him, they already knew the rules, and they simply stared at each other. Lea could see that Payton was more than ready to start the match, she was ready to go for blood. It didn't scare Lea because she was ready for the match. No matter what happened in the match, she was going to win the match. When the referee was done, both boxers went back to their corners and waited for the bell to ring.
"This is it, chica, remember everything you have learned and, most of all, your promise," said Alonso while was looking at Lea straight in the eyes.
"Yeah," answered Lea. She knew the promise that she did to him, and the promise that she did to Jenny. "I'll save the house, and I'll protect the house, for everyone's sake!" In the other corner, Benen was giving some advice to Payton, but he knew that it wouldn't do any real difference.
"Be careful with this boxer, she must have prepared something for you, but most of all, be careful with her punches. She has insane power, and by the looks of it, it must have become unbelievable," said Benen.
"No matter, I'll win this match and that's that. What I worry about, is if I'll be able to fight properly. I'm already feeling it creeping into my head," said Payton. Benen couldn't see Payton's eyes because Payton was leaving her head down, but he could feel it.
"At this point, I don't know who I should worry about. Payton or Specter?" Benen didn't have too much time to think about it because the announcer ordered the seconds to leave the ring. They all do so without any complaint, leaving only the boxers and the referee in the ring. After the seconds were gone, both boxers turned around, not wanting to take their eyes off of their opponent. Everyone in the audience wondered who would come out victorious and who would come out on a stretcher. All of their questions would be answered soon because the bell ringed.
Both boxers came out of their corners, but they didn't go dashing towards the other. They came out slowly and started heading to the middle of the ring. Once they reached the middle of the ring, they keep each other outside of their punching range, and started to watch each other. Lea used her usual Peek-a-boo style, while Payton was using the standard stance. Then, Lea started to weave around in an attempt to confuse Payton, but it only made her stay in alert.
"So, your survival instincts are telling you to be careful? I would be with an opponent like Specter," thought Benen, who was expecting Payton to go crazy, but she seemed to be under control, which he was glad for. Payton tested things out by getting closer, and threw a quick left jab, which Lea dodged. Lea didn't charge in, knowing that it was just a test. However, Lea wouldn't get anywhere just by watching, and decided to test things out in her own way. Lea slowly moved forward, getting closer to Payton, and Payton didn't back away. Instead, Payton threw another quick left jab, still testing Lea out. Lea dodged the punch with her weaving, and moved closer. Again, Payton threw a left jab, Lea ducked the punch, and moved closer. At that moment, without a doubt, Lea was in her best punching range, but she didn't start her attack. Instead, Lea stood there, looking at Payton eye to eye, and Payton maintained her ground, not sliding back even a little bit. Lea could see that Payton didn't feel fear, didn't feel pressure, she was ready for anything, just like Lea. With that new knowledge, Lea started with a left hook to Payton's head, which Payton blocked with the right arm. Then, Lea threw a right uppercut to Payton's body, which Payton blocked with the left arm. Payton fought back with a right hook to Lea's head. Lea ducked the punch, and stood up with a left uppercut to Payton's body. Payton blocked the uppercut with both arms, and even then, Payton could feel the destructive power that Lea possessed. With the uppercut blocked, Lea threw a right hook at Payton's face. Payton ducked the punch, and threw a left hook at Lea's exposed body. Lea avoided the attack by moving with the left hook. Lea attacked with a right straight to Payton's head, but Payton anticipated the attack and blocked it with the right arm.
After that exchange, both boxers created distance, and the audience was left speechless. No one expected such a display of great in-fighting skills, and they cheered for that. In the audience, Lea's friends were staring in amazement at the tremendous show of skill and technique.
"You know, I thought Payton would have gone out for blood, but she seems pretty cool about it," said Salena.
"Like the saying goes, 'the calm before the storm'. I'm sure this is just the beginning of it, and it will be far from over," said Hilda, who was looking calm about it, but she was tense on the inside.
"That makes me more worried about Lea's safety. I know that Lea trained hard for this match, but when I think about Payton's reputation…" Said Alinda, whose worry was showing on her face, and everyone understood what she was talking about.
"Then let's wish her our best, and hope for the best." After Hilda said that, they all kept watching the match.
Both boxers were back to staring at each other, and everyone who had experience in fighting, knew that the testing period was over. That moment was when the real fight was going to start. Lea dashed forward, and Payton attempted to keep Lea away with quick jabs, but Lea dodged and blocked them. Payton attempted to move around Lea, to avoid getting in her punching range. Fortunately, Lea was used to out-boxers, and quickly chased after Payton. Payton noticed that, and simply decided to stop sliding around because she didn't see the point if her opponent could chase after her with ease. Payton prepared herself, moved at in-fight distance, and another barrage of punches was launched. Lea started with a left hook to Payton's head, which Payton dodged by leaning back. Then, Lea threw a right hook, which Payton also dodged by leaning back. Payton didn't let it push her too far and returned with a left uppercut to Lea's chin, which Lea dodged by moving her head to the side. After that, Payton threw a right hook to Lea's head, which Lea blocked with the left arm. Lea fought back with a right uppercut to Payton's chin, but Payton dodged by moving her head to the side. Payton attempted a left hook to Lea's head, but Lea ducked the punch, and stood up with a left hook to Payton's head. The hook was blocked by Payton's right arm, and Payton attacked with a left hook to Lea's head. Lea ducked the punch and threw a right to Payton's body. It was dodged by sliding to Lea's right side and Payton fought back with a right straight to Lea's head. Lea used a shoulder to block the attack, but wasn't expecting the force behind the punch. It didn't make Lea lose her balance, but it sure made her slid away from Payton.
One minute had passed, and neither boxer had landed the opening hit. It would seem that they were equal in power, speed, and technique. After gathering herself, Lea rushed forward with her Peek-a-boo, and Payton was unwilling to back away. Payton also charged forward and they met with their shoulders, trying to push the other. Soon enough, they realized that their levels of strength were very similar, and Payton decided to pull away, trying to make Lea lose her balance. Fortunately, Lea quickly felt the force that was pushing her been diminished. Both boxers backed away at the same time. Again, they kept their distance, watching, and circling each other, which made the audience hold their breath. They knew that the boxers could go at any second. Then, Payton moved forward, just a little bit, and threw a left jab, which Lea ducked. Lea charged forward, but quickly found out that Payton backed away and threw another left jab at Lea. It caught Lea by surprise and barely blocked the punch, but the jab was quickly followed by a right straight, making it into a 1-2. The combo barely pushed Lea back, but it worked on keeping her in place, while Payton started to rain jabs on Lea. It made it difficult for Lea to push forward, but whenever the opportunity came up, Lea would slide just a little bit forward. Lea knew that Payton would sooner or later be trapped on the ropes or on the corner. Unfortunately, Payton knew that, and when they were close to the corner, she circled around. Then, she started to push Lea to the corner with right punches to the body. Lea tried to push back, but Payton stuck to Lea with the shoulder and kept pounding with right blows to Lea's body. Fortunately, they were all blocked, but the aim wasn't to hurt, it was to push. Lea was slowly, but surely, been pushed into the corner and Payton started to pound on Lea.
In Lea's corner, Fergus wasn't expecting Payton to read Lea's strategy to use the ropes.
"How was she able to read that? Not only that, but she was able to escape from it," said an agitated Fergus.
"Payton might have experience in this kind of strategy. This means that she has already developed ways to escape from such a predicament," answered Alonso with a serious face.
"Does that mean that…Payton knows how to defeat Lea?"
"Payton may know how to deal with in-fighters, but doesn't know how to deal with Lea herself. She might have escaped from the trap, but that's not the only thing that she should worry about." Alonso knew that Lea had trained hard, even more than Alonso expected, and it gave him confidence that Lea was going to escape from her predicament.
Even in that situation, Lea tried to remain calm and tried to think of a way to escape the ropes. Lea came up with a plan, and waited for the moment to use it. It came when a right blow to her body was launched, and Lea parried the blow by using a shoulder roll. Then, Lea escaped from the corner and pushed Payton to the ropes. Then, Lea started to show her specialty, by using small and fast punches, not giving any time to escape. However, Payton wasn't just going to sit there and take it. She was already thinking on how to escape. Payton found an escape route as she parried a left punch with her right hand. Then, she pushed Lea with the left shoulder. Payton started to push Lea, but Lea tried to attack with the left hand. Unfortunately, Payton was holding Lea's left hand, and Payton's back was towards the right, making it an illegal area to attack. Payton managed to stop Lea's barrage of attacks, which allowed her to move to the side and escape from the ropes. Lea knew what was coming next, a barrage of lefts were launched at her, making her focus on dodging and blocking as many as she could. Lea wasn't going to let that stop her, and moved forward under the assault of lefts. While Payton was throwing her barrage of lefts, she moved to Lea's left side and attempted to throw a right. Lea saw that, and ducked the punch. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a feint and Payton threw a short left uppercut at Lea. While Lea was ducking, she saw the punch and dodged by moving her upper body to the right. Lea stood up and threw a right hook at Payton's head, but Payton blocked it with her left hand. Then, Payton fought back with a right hook to Lea's head, which was ducked. Then, Payton threw a left uppercut, which Lea dodged by moving her upper body to the side. Lea threw a left uppercut to Payton's chin, but Payton dodged it by leaning back. After that, Payton attacked with a short right straight to Lea's head, followed by a left hook.
Two minutes had passed and both boxers had entered into another in-fight, neither showing signs of backing down. Lea ducked the right straight and blocked the left hook with the right arm. Then, she attacked with a left uppercut to Payton's body. Payton blocked the uppercut with her right arm, and threw a left hook at Lea's head. Lea must have read Payton's mind because Lea used the same arm to throw a left hook to Payton's head. Both punches turned into a simultaneous exchange, the first punches to cleanly land in the entire match. Even when both punches landed, neither boxer backed away, they actually start to throw a right hook. That time, they moved the head to the left, avoiding the hook to their head, but their arms got interlocked with each other. They quickly separate their arms and start throwing another hook to each other. Lea's left hook to Payton's body was blocked by Payton's right arm, while Payton's left hook to Lea's head was blocked by Lea's right hand. Then, they clash with their shoulders, neither budging a single centimeter. The deadlock was suddenly broken by Lea's right hook to Payton's head, which was blocked by Payton's left arm. Payton fought back with a right uppercut to Lea's chin, which Lea dodged by leaning back. Lea attacked with a left hook to Payton's head, which Payton ducked. Then, Lea threw a right hook to Payton's head, which Payton ducked. After that, Lea finished with a left uppercut to Payton's chin, which Payton dodged by moving her head to the left. Payton tried to hit Lea with a left uppercut to her chin. Lea blocked it with the right arm and attacked with a left hook to Payton's chin. Payton ducked the punch, and stood up with a right uppercut to Lea's chin, but Lea blocked it with the left arm. Lea attacked with a right hook, which Payton ducked. Then, Lea threw a left uppercut, which Payton dodged by leaning back. After that, Lea threw a right straight to Payton's face, which Payton dodged by moving her head to the left and tried to counter with a right cross. Lea avoided the attack by moving her head behind her right arm. Then, they pulled their arms back, turned to face each other, and clashed with their shoulder. That time, they weren't pushing at each other. They were actually leaning on each other, trying to catch their breath before going at it again.
On Payton's corner, both seconds were surprised at how Specter was able to fight evenly against Payton.
"Specter is a tough one. I don't remember the last time that someone has lasted as long as her," said Benen's assistant.
"I'm a little surprised too. Most of them tended to end beat up to a pulp. However, I wouldn't worry about it too much," said Benen with a straight face.
"Why? This is the first time that I have seen Payton fight evenly with an opponent."
"Well, the thing is, Lea hasn't faced Payton when she goes all out." Benen, and his assistant knew that Payton was even more dangerous when she let her killing instinct to act on its own. They started to wonder just how long it would take to come out.
While the boxers were resting, the audience cheered wildly, liking the excitement that those boxers brought to the fight. Not wanting to give even a second of rest, Lea started to attack with a right uppercut to Payton's body, but Payton moved away, and moved to Lea's left side. Then, she started to throw a left jab at Lea, who blocked it with the left hand and started to turn towards Payton. Unfortunately, Lea was met with another barrage of lefts to her head, making her focus on defense. Lea ignored the barrage and pressed forward, easily reaching punching range. Without hesitation, Lea threw a left jab at Payton, but Payton parried it with the left hand and threw a right straight as a counter. Lea was caught by surprise, but managed to duck the punch, and attempted to attack with a right hook to Payton's body. Unfortunately, Payton moved with Lea's hook and attempted to hit with more left jabs, but they were blocked by Lea's left arm. Before Lea had time to turn towards her opponent, Payton moved in, and attacked with a right uppercut to Lea's body. Lea quickly blocked with the left arm, and attacked with a right hook to Payton's head. To Lea's surprise, the hook was blocked by Payton's left arm, and Payton attacked with a right hook to Lea's head. Lea quickly ducked the punch, stood up, and attempted to attack with a left hook to Payton's body, but noticed that Payton slid back. Then, Payton attempted to counter with a right straight, but Lea stopped her uppercut, ducked the attack, and moved in. Then, Lea launched a left hook to Payton's body, and Payton tried to counter with a downward left to Lea's head. That time, Lea wasn't going to stop her attack, she was going to make it into a simultaneous exchange, but they were stopped by the referee. The bell was ringing, announcing the end of the first round, and the referee sent both boxers to their respective corners. Without complain, they started to head to their seconds, who were waiting in their corners.
Lea arrived to her corner and sat on the stool that was waiting for her. Once Lea was on her seat, the seconds started to help her recover and fix any wound that they could. Fortunately, there was no wound, they fought pretty evenly, and neither one caused serious damage to the other.
"You did good in that round, none of her punches landed on you. However, none of your punches was landing either, except for the simultaneous exchange. Other than that, the two of you have been going pretty evenly," said Alonso as he was inspecting Lea's condition.
"It looked like that, but it felt different for me," answered Lea while trying to recover as much as possible.
"What do you mean?"
"It didn't feel like she was going at full force. It felt like she was testing me. She could actually do better than that. I felt it when she started to block and throw counters at any punch that I could throw," answered Lea with a serious face.
"Is that so? What about you then? Did you throw everything that you could? Did you go at her with everything you got?" asked Alonso.
"No, we must have thought the same thing. I know she's strong, stronger than she lets on."
"This is your experience talking. Rushing like a mad bull will only work so far, but not with an opponent like this. However, there's a moment when the time for study is over and is time for action. In the next round, use all that you have learned in this match and attack. Remember, if you want to stop a counter from coming at you, then you throw punch after punch, don't give her a moment to attack. That's what an in-fighter like you is good at, got it?" Lea looked at Alonso with a determined face, and responded.
Meanwhile, on Payton's corner, things were almost the same as in Lea's corner.
"What do you think, Payton? Think you can handle such a strong in-fighter?" asked Benen, who wasn't looking worried in the least.
"She's strong and fast. She's obviously a specialist when it comes to in-fighting," answered Payton, who was ready to go into the fray at any moment.
"Yes, but the question I have is this: Think you can handle her?" Payton looked straight into Benen's eyes, and Benen could see that she was ready to simply start to put Lea down.
"Yes." That was all Payton answered.
"I expected an answer like this one from her. Payton has dealt with in-fighters before, but is not that experience that helps her. Her survival instinct is what protects her, but what makes her more frightening in a match, is her killing instinct. I'm not worried about Payton, but I know that her opponent is strong. Let's see if you can deal with Payton, now that she has felt your skills."
While the seconds kept working on their boxers, Tania was watching from the audience and studying what was going on.
"They took good notes on each other, good references, and good application of that new information. Unfortunately, they are too even, equal when it came to attacks in the first round. What is going to break the standstill?" Thought Tania, who got deep in thought about the subject. Another person in the audience was enjoying the match, and the person was none other, than Karen.
"I was expecting nothing less from Specter, and of course, Payton. Speaking of Payton, there's something strange going on with her. It isn't passion, but something else, something more savage about her, unlike Specter herself. I wonder when is Payton going to unleash it," thought Karen. Last, but not least, was the rising star in the Light Heavyweight division, Luisa.
"This is a good match, I'm glad that I came to see this. Just as I was hoping, Specter already reached the finals, but considering the opponent that she's fighting, is not going to be an easy one. Be careful, Specter, I got a bad feeling about her," thought Luisa. Suddenly, the announcer ordered the seconds to leave the ring.
"One more thing, if you want to beat a counter-puncher, use feints. Confuse her, let her know that you got more up your sleeves, got it?" Said Alonso in an attempt to give any last advice that he could.
"Got it," answered Lea while putting her mouthpiece. With all seconds out, both boxers wait for the bell, and they didn't have to wait for long. Without any delay, the bell ringed.
Both boxers came rushing forward, meeting each other in the middle of the ring. Lea started the attack with a left hook to Payton's head. Payton tried to block it, but it was a feint, and Lea threw a right uppercut to Payton's chin. Payton fell for the feint, but it didn't matter because Payton managed to block it with the left arm. Then, she attacked with a right hook to Lea's head. Lea ducked the punch and tried to force the pace to her favor by starting a barrage of small punches. What Lea wasn't expecting, was Payton starting to block every single one of Lea's punches with whatever she could use. After seeing that, Lea decided to add some feints in her barrage of attacks. Unfortunately, it seemed that Payton had gone up a gear in speed because she was able to keep blocking and dodging the attacks. Lea wasn't one to lag behind and started to increase the speed of her punches. Even with that, Payton was able to block and parry Lea's attacks, which made things look bad for Lea. In Lea's opinion, it wasn't so bad because Payton hadn't landed a single punch on Lea, which meant that Lea's plan was working well. Unfortunately, Lea was far from the truth because it wasn't that Payton couldn't attack. She simply didn't want to attack yet. All of that blocking and dodging was the final part of her study. At that moment, Payton had more than enough, and when Lea threw a right uppercut to Payton's body, Payton blocked the attack with the left arm. Then, Payton landed a right hook on Lea's head, but Lea surprised Payton when a hook landed on her body.
That exchange surprised Benen because he wasn't expecting Lea to actually keep attacking after taking a hit to the head.
"Just what in the hell is that girl made of? Payton's hooks are no laughing matter, but Specter was able to take it and continue fighting. I hope things don't turn for the worse after that, Specter might take this chance to control the flow of the match," thought Benen. He wasn't liking how that was going and didn't want to admit it, but he hoped for Payton to go all out. "I feel like the worst person for what I'm about to wish for, but if it means winning the match, then so be it. Payton, don't you think is time to let the beast out?" Benen was sure that, when it came out, the match would fall into their hands, and with it, the tournament.
After the left hook, Lea continued with a right uppercut to Payton's chin, which Payton dodged by sliding back. Then, she took the opportunity to land a right on Lea's face. As Payton pulled her right back, Lea rushed in and landed a left uppercut on Payton's body. Then, Lea tried to use the same left arm to launch a left hook to Payton's head, but Payton launched a left hook to Lea's head. Both punches landed, making it into another simultaneous exchange, and again, Lea ignored the pain. At that point, Payton realize that trying to beat Lea in her specialty wasn't the best course of action. The plan was to demoralize Lea by beating her in her own game, but it turned out that she was better than Payton thought. So, Payton decided that she would use out-boxing at close-range. Staying inside of Lea's arm reach, Payton started move quickly in short distances, while Lea attempted to land a punch. Lea threw a left uppercut to Payton's chin, but Payton moved to the left and countered with a left jab to Lea's face. Ignoring that attack, Lea continued to chase after Payton and attacked with a left hook. Payton ducked the punch, and countered with a right uppercut to Lea's chin. Lea refused to give up, even if she took those counters, and continued her attack. At that moment, Lea decided to use a little addition to her attacks, and that addition, were feints. Lea threw a left hook at Payton, making Payton move to Lea's right side. Then, Lea threw a right and hit Payton in the face. That didn't stop Payton because she had more toughness than the average out-boxer. Payton attacked with a left to Lea's face, but Lea ducked the punch, and stood up with a left uppercut to Payton's chin. Lea was actually throwing a feint, and she could see that Payton was going to move to the right. Lea was going to throw a right hook to Payton's body, but Payton was betting that the uppercut was a feint and it paid off. Payton moved back just in time to dodge the hook and landed a right straight on Lea's face. Just like before, Lea attempted to push forward, even if the fist was right on her face, and Payton knew that Lea would do that. So, Payton threw a left hook, but Lea quickly ducked the punch and hit Payton's body with a right hook.
A minute had passed into the second round, and Lea had landed a clean hit on Payton's body, but it didn't stop there. Lea kept her barrage of attacks on Payton, forcing her to cover-up, but it didn't look like it would be enough. Payton was slowly been pushed back with every punch that landed on her guard. Eventually, Payton was pushed all the way to the ropes, and she was kept there by Lea's punches. Lea didn't give Payton any chance to retaliate because Lea kept her punches as small and quick as she could throw them. The audience behind Payton could see her been pushed into the ropes little by little. Payton was trying to think of a way out of the ropes, but couldn't think of anything.
"What to do? What to do? Specter is strong, really strong, no matter how much I punch her, she will simply keep pushing. How do you stop a boxer like that?" Thought Payton. Then, Payton felt something, something that she was very familiar with, and she didn't like it. "What? No! I…I have to resist, I have to focus. I can't let it out, even if Lea is my opponent, she's a nice person on the inside." It was creeping its way out, and Payton couldn't hold it back any longer. "Specter, I'm sorry, I hope you can survive." Lea was about to land another barrage of attacks, which was a left uppercut and a right hook, but they didn't hit. Instead, they were knocked aside by Payton, who used both of her arms, and stopped the assault on her. That caught Lea by surprise, not expecting to be stopped like that because it would have taken a high amount of speed and power to do so. After that, Lea felt something inside of her that was telling her to be careful, to be in alert, and it made her look at Payton. What Lea found in Payton's eyes, was nothing more than a complete intent, not to hurt or win, but to simply kill her.
Alonso was left speechless, and he wasn't the only one, Fergus was shocked by what he just saw.
"I can hardly believe it, Payton was able to stop her with simple brute strength, but how did she get the timing for it?" asked Fergus, who had never seen such a thing, and noticed that Alonso was looking confused. "What is it, coach?"
"Well, I'm just as surprised as you, but there's something weird with the chica. Even if she was stopped, she would have continued on her attack on Payton, but she didn't," answered Alonso.
"Maybe she's still surprised."
"No, this is something different, I can feel it in the air, something big is going on, and is staring at the chica's face." Alonso couldn't explain it any better than that, and could only hope that Lea could deal with it.
Payton started her retaliation when she threw a right uppercut at Lea's chin. Lea saw that and leaned back, but it turned out to be a feint. Payton stopped her uppercut, and moved in with a left hook to Lea's head. It landed on the side of Lea's head and made Lea back away from Payton, giving her enough space to escape from the ropes. At that point, Payton wasn't concerned about escaping from the ropes. She was just concerned about destroying the enemy in front of her, and she was just getting started. Payton chased after Lea and attacked with a left jab, which Lea blocked. After the block, Lea tried to rush in with a left uppercut to Payton's chin. Payton moved to the side, and hit Lea with a right uppercut to her body. Then, Payton followed with a left straight to Lea's head, sending it flying to the side. Lea's new toughness helped Lea recover quickly from the punch and returned the attack with a right punch. Payton dodged the punch to the left and used a right cross counter, pushing Lea back again. Lea knew that backing down was a bad move in an in-fight. She refused to do so and tried to move closer to Payton. While doing so, Payton quickly moved to Lea's right and threw a left punch at Lea's liver, but Lea managed to block the attack. Unfortunately, Payton didn't stop there and threw a right straight at Lea's exposed head, but Lea barely managed to duck the punch. Lea turned to face Payton and tried to dash forward, but Payton moved to Lea's right, a move that Lea was expecting. When Payton got into position, Lea threw a right at Payton, but she moved in and dodged the punch. Not only that, but Payton landed another right cross counter on Lea's face, making Lea back away. Payton rushed in, taking the opportunity to put the pressure back on Lea, and started with a barrage of attacks. That put Lea on the defensive, covering as much as she could, and dodging as many punches as she could. Basically, the tables were turned, and Lea was on the receiving end.
Two minutes have passed, and things have turned ugly for Lea, who was been pounded by Payton. Lea was dodging, blocking, whatever she could do to avoid any more damage than she already had. Still, Lea refused to stay that way forever, and attempted to throw a feint at Payton. Lea threw a left, which was actually a feint, but Payton didn't fall for it and kept her assault on Lea. Another feint was thrown as a left uppercut to Payton's chin, and again, Payton didn't fall for it. Instead, Payton threw a right and hit Lea right in her face, which left her in disbelief.
"How is it that she doesn't fall for my feints? Can she read my mind or something? What am I supposed to do in this situation?" Thought Lea, who wasn't given any time to think because she had to focus on surviving the round.
While Lea was in the match trying to survive, those in the audience had an impression of their own.
"Those counters, avoiding those feints, no amount of study, research, or investigation can achieve that. This is beyond that, this is something that you just feel it, something that the body must sense. I have no real explanation for this level of skill," thought Tania, who had performed hundreds of counters, but she always relied on studying the opponent. She never believed in just guessing. Karen on the other hand, while impressed by Payton's level, was disgusted by the feeling of insanity that she felt on Payton.
"So this is what I was feeling, that explains the shady people in the audience. Payton isn't thinking of anything, but to simply spill blood and paint the ring red with it. What are you going to do, Specter? Can you defeat a killing machine like Payton?" Thought Karen in hopes that Lea could win the match. Luisa was actually feeling uncomfortable for another reason.
"Somehow, this reminds me of my old days. When I didn't care what happened to them. You're strong, Specter, I know you can defeat her. If you lose here, then what do you think you're previous opponents are going to feel like?" Thought Luisa and prayed for Lea's victory.
Meanwhile, Payton kept the attack on Lea, and Lea decided on another approach to that situation. If she couldn't land a hit without getting hit, then she was going to make them into a simultaneous exchange. The opportunity presented itself when Payton threw a right hook, and Lea threw a right hook of her own. It looked like they would hit at the same time, but Payton quickly changed the hook into a left straight, hitting Lea in the face. Lea tried again and launched a left hook when Payton threw a right uppercut, but the right uppercut turned into a block. Then, Payton threw a short left straight on Lea's chin, making Lea's head face the ceiling, and Payton threw another attack to Lea's chin. Lea recovered and barely blocked with the right hand, but a right hook was sent to the side of Lea's head. With incredible speed, Lea barely ducked the punch, and was put in the defensive again. Lea may be doing a good job at blocking, but it meant that she would either lose by decision, the referee might stop it, or Payton would find a crack in Lea's defense, and pour in the punishment. Either way, Lea clung to hope and tried to push forward under the rain of punches to reach Payton's chest. Lea managed to slide little by little, but Payton didn't allow it any longer and push Lea back with a quicker barrage of attacks. Lea's guard was slowly breaking apart, and didn't last long before it actually broke. With the opening, Payton threw a right straight at Lea's face, and Lea was hit cleanly, but managed to hang on to consciousness. Payton didn't stop there and threw a left uppercut to Lea's chin, which Lea managed to dodge by moving her head to the right. That was a perfect opportunity to escape from the ropes. Lea slid to the side, but Payton didn't allow it. With the same speed, if not faster, Payton followed Lea and kept her in the ropes with a barrage of lefts. Again, Lea was left in the defensive, but thankfully, the referee got between them and stopped the assault. The bell ringed at the same time that the referee got between them, but Payton didn't seem to care and tried to keep fighting.
Then, Payton stopped because someone familiar to her called her.
"Payton!" Shouted Benen, and Payton started to slide back to her corner, leaving a damaged Lea on the ropes. Once Payton was gone, Lea started to slide to her corner, and didn't have a face that showed any fear or doubt. Instead, it was a face that was starting to swell and showing some signs of bleeding. Mostly around the nose and the mouth, sending the message to everyone that Lea might be up, but she lost in her specialty. After witnessing Lea losing terribly in an in-fight, everyone in the audience started to wonder if Lea could do anything.