I take a huge jab at the punching bag before me but instead of flying a few feet away as I was expecting, it only squiggles a couple of centimetres away before falling right back into place, leaving me very disappointed due to the amount of power I thought I had injected into that punch.
“You’re either really out of shape or the weight setting is set to a really meaty weight,” I hear a foreign voice from behind me. I turn and frantically look around for the source of the unfamiliar voice and am very relieved when I discover a woman in a dark blue sports outfit sitting on a bench behind me in the darkness.
I let out a huge sigh of relief when I spot her since I thought the place was empty when I entered. She gets off the bench she was seated on and walks towards me. The light glistens off her face and I finally get a good look at her. She’s very pretty.
She extends her hand in my direction and says, “Hi, I’m Angela, Angela Ortiz.” I shake her extended hand.
“I’m Dr. Ignatius Blay,” I answer her in the most polite way that I can giving the circumstances. I was completely lost in her large, brown eyes. They are something to die for; so large and enchanting that they disarm you almost the instant you look into them. I haven’t seen eyes these hypnotising since Alex’s green eyes, or Martina’s.
Wait, yes, I have a wife called Martina, I think to myself as I regain all my lost composure and disarm all her charm.
“Wait, the Dr. Ignatius Blay?” she says and I nod while blushing a bit as she steps back to take a better look at me. “Shut up!” she exclaims as she realises that it is indeed me and draws back in closer. “I love your work! Big bummer on destroying the earth and all,” she says to me.
“Yeah, but you can only destroy the earth once until you get kind of bored with it, you know?” I say a terrible joke but for some of odd reason she found it hilarious and began laughing with a very infectious cackle that makes me laugh awkwardly. “So, what are you doing here?” What a dumb question.
She’s wearing gym clothes and standing in a gym holding a bunch of gym equipment so she’s obviously not here to open a bank account, moron, my inner voice chastises me.
“I was actually here to do my morning workout but when I spotted someone as dedicated as you are, here as early as 6 am, I just had to take a look see,” she says as she picks her towel off the bench.
“Oh, well, you know what they say, the early bird catches the worm and what not,” I say coyly as I feel myself blushing again for some reason. “So, what did you think?”
“About what?” she says as she bends down to pick up her gym bags off the floor.
“Me, you know, my punching and stuff,” I say as I make a couple of air jabs and hit the wall before me. I’m fortunate she didn’t see that since she was busy picking her bag off the floor else I might have just died of embarrassment.
“Hmmm, your strength is impeccable, that’s for sure” she says as she grabs all her stuff and begins to walk and I tag along feeling all awesome. “So is your speed but your form and footwork are amateurish at best.” Ouch, that really hurt my feelings.
“Oh,” I say since that was so blunt.
“But I can help you with that,” she says as she stops and turns back to me.
“No offense but, you really don’t look like the boxing type,” I say.
“Is that so?”
“You and me, one round, right now,” she say as she drops her equipment to the floor, puts on a pair of red gloves and a mouth guard that were lying around before jumping into the ring.
“I’m not fighting a girl,” I say as I enter the ring after her.
“Stop being such a chicken,” she says and starts floating around me, teasing me to throw a punch. “Are you a man or not?” After a while of she teasing me and questioning my masculinity, I decide to fight her, not to hurt her, but for fun of course.
I intentionally start out by throwing quite a powerful punch which wasn’t meant to hurt her but just to kill her thirst for violence but she skilfully evades it and counters with a swift blow that sends me crashing to the floor. She hits pretty hard for a girl.
“Had enough big boy?” she says teasingly as I get off the tarmac with my pride wounded a bit.
“Not even remotely,” I say as I check if my lip is bleeding.
I try going in with a few more power punches but she evades them so easily that it’s as if she’s teasing me again. I try going in for a killer punch instead since she is really embarrassing me out here. A couple of people have gathered around to watch us spar and I can’t let them see me loose to a girl, even if I don’t know them.
I summon all the strength in me into one huge blow and launch it at her but somehow, she manages to evade it, showing incredible dexterity and agility as she flips over my arm, sending me crashing into the ropes at the sidelines. As I turn back to her, I see her countering with a crushing uppercut which I am too late for me to dodge. It sends me crashing to the floor with a throbbing jaw, wounded pride and with me destined never to rise again, for this match at least.
She crouches down beside my head. “Still think I’m not the boxing type?” she says to me as my pathetic heap of a body lies strewn on the floor and writhing in pain. She pats my head with her glove and says, “Go get yourself cleaned up; training starts in an hour.”
Wow, a girl with stunning good looks and that can hold her own in a fight? Pinch me, I must be dreaming, I think to myself as I lay my head back on the tarmac and shift my dislocated jaw back into place.
“Harder, harder, punch it Dr. Blay!” she shouts in my ear as I whale on the punching bag before me.
“I’m trying!” I say as I feel my upper arms start to burn.
I feel the beads sweat on my forehead and my aching biceps calling out to me to stop but I dare not in case I incur the wrath of Angela who is standing behind me, coaching me aggressively as she has been doing for the past half hour.
“Very good Dr. Blay,” she says as I cross a hundred consecutive punches. “You are hitting much more consistently now.”
“Thanks,” I say as I stop punching and feel a rush of pain in my arms. “It’s all thanks to you, my awesome trainer.”
“It’s a pleasure,” she says as I begin hitting the bag again. “By the way, I have a question.”
“Yeah?” I say as I stop hitting the bag and look at her.
“What’s a sciency nerd like you doing in a high-octane place like this?” Again with the bluntness. “I thought you guys were allergic to physical activity of all forms. No offense.” I think my feelings are hurt again.
“Actually,” I say as I try to suppress my hurt, “this nerd is preparing for a fight with another nerd,” I say with a bit of pride in my voice as I brag of my first fight ever to an attractive woman. I just wish that that woman was Martina.
“And this other nerd is?” she says as she takes a sip of a drink of some sort in a clear white bottle.
“Oh, you’ll find this hilarious; it’s...Dr. Alfred Knoster,” I say as I burst into laughter but instead of laughing she does a spit-take of her drink.
“You’re fighting Dr. Alfred?” she says with a bit of fear in her voice.
“Dr. Alfred Knoster,” she says again. “Alexandria’s brother?”
“Yes, funny right?” I start to chuckle again but she just stares into the distance reflectively. “Why aren’t you laughing?”
“This is bad,” she says as she places her left hand on her forehead. “You didn’t put a wager or anything on this fight, right?”
“Actually, the loser, who is obviously going to be him, has to shave their hair into a pink Mohawk,” I say.
“Wow,” she says as her hand returns to her forehead with the other one on her waist.
“Why, what’s wrong?” I ask while a bit concerned with her demeanour.
“At least I think you’ll look good in a pink Mohawk,” she says as she covers a part of my head to make it look like a Mohawk and gets a prick from my needle-sharp hairs.
“What are you trying to imply?” I say as my pride takes a hit. “That I’ll lose to that old bag o’ bones? The guy is like a thousand years old for crying out loud!” I start to snicker but the look on her face makes me nervous and I stop.
“Is it too late to back out of this bet?” she says as she rubs her bleeding finger.
“I’m not backing out!” I say as I feel my pride take another massive hit. “Why would you ask me to do such a thing?”
“Come see something Dr. Blay,” she says as she waves me to follow her.
I follow her towards a wall just beside the door with a huge curtain covering something that looks like a picture. She flicks on a light switch and rolls the curtain back to reveal exactly what I wasn’t expecting, a giant framed picture of none other than Dr. Alfred Knoster, except he looks much younger in this photo. Under that one are like six smaller framed photos, one of which is of Angela.
“Do you see this?” she says me as she joins me to gape at the photos on the wall.
“Big whoop,” I say. “Anyone can have their photo on a wall.”
“Yes,” she says. “But do you know why his photo has been enlarged and these others are below it?”
“Dr. Alfred Knoster is one of the greatest fighters ever to grace this ring, Dr. Blay.” I feel my heart rise into my throat a bit when she says this as a result of fear. “Those photos you see underneath his are the people he has coached to win the various kickboxing titles you can win around here, including me,” she says and points to her photo which is near the end of the line of photos.
If I wasn’t afraid then, I sure am now because it’s one thing to do all this yourself, but coaching seven other people to do it is incredible. The fact that his student, Angela, just wiped the floor with me a couple of hours ago is telling.
I’m in big trouble this evening.
“So, on a scale of Mayweather to Tyson, how good is he?” I say as we walk back to the training area.
“Well, he’s way above Mayweather that’s for sure.” Oh God. “But he’s just below Tyson because he isn’t as strong as Tyson was and come on, no one is, but his form and footwork are just as good, if not better,” she says and I swallow a huge wad of saliva in fear.
“But he’s old and weak now, right?” I ask her hoping to get an encouraging answer to calm my ragged nerves.
“Obviously, he has lost much of his speed and strength due to age but the skill is still there, coupled with decades of experience whereas you have none of that,” she says bluntly again but I’m too scared at the moment to have my feelings hurt. “I just wish we had more time to train.”
“You can whip me into good shape for this fight, can’t you Angela?” I ask as we get back to training.
“Hit it harder Dr. Blay!” She doesn’t answer my question but instead yells instructions in my direction as we go right back to training.
I can sense that she’s a bit scared for me but so am I. The man is a champion boxer with countless medals and experience and what do I have? Apart from my superhuman strength and speed which I haven’t even unlocked yet, coupled with my boyish good looks which he might take away from me by repeatedly hitting my face, I have nothing.
“Iiiiin this cooorrrner, we have, weighing in at a pitiful one hundred and eighty pounds, a newcomer, attempting to face our grand champion, Dr. Ignatius Blay!” the announcer says as Angela claps and cheers loudest but the crowd just pity-clap for me out of politeness.
Honestly, the announcer, despite his meanness, sounds really professional. The mood is really set for a professional boxing bout.
Over this whole day, Angela and I have made real good progress and now we feel a bit confident that I might have a chance, just a slim chance but still a chance, of beating Dr. Alfred, or ‘Sugar Fists’ as he is known around here. Surprisingly, a whole crowd of people turned up to witness this fight.
“Aaaaand in this cooorrrner, Mr. Sugar Fists himself, and still our undefeated champion, coming out of retirement to fight the newbie, Dr. Alfred, Knoster!” The cheers that erupt from the crowd would make anyone nervous, even a professional and for an amateur like me, that was almost to me like them condemning me to a horrible and inevitable defeat.
The evening feel is beginning to creep into the gym and it makes the ambient mood even rifer. We make our way back to our corners for final briefing from our coaches. Dr. Alfred is being coached by Alexandria who is in her wheelchair. He doesn’t even respect me enough to hire a professional coach.
“Dr. Blay, I think I’ve got a way you can win this,” she says as she massages my shoulders.
“Anything,” I say. “I really don’t want to don a pink Mohawk anytime soon.” I remove my robe and drop it behind the ring. I’m wearing a pair of blue gloves and matching trunks with my name printed, well written very nicely in marker, on them.
“Okay, so I have noticed and I’m sure you have too, that if you were to try going toe to toe with him, he would absolutely murder you,” she says in a way that if it was meant to inspire confidence, had the opposite effect.
“Yeah? So what’s your plan?”
“My plan is not to go with offensive plays but I want you to try the more conservative approach,’ she says as she hands me a bottle of energy drink and I take a gulp.
“How am I supposed to do that?”
“Oh, you know, just avoid him for a bit until he gets tired, then hit him with a counter,” the bell rings for time. “You got that?”
“I guess so,” I say as I get off my stool and start walking toward the centre of the ring with her shouting encouragement in my direction. I honestly don’t think I can do this but hey, it’s worth a shot isn’t it? Besides, who doesn’t love a good underdog story?
I pause for a moment to insert my mouth guard and start bouncing around in place in order to get some momentum going. We are summoned to the middle of the court by the referee.
“Now boys, I want a good, clean fight. No hitting below the belt or biting. We are going a maximum of four rounds after which if there has been no knockout, the judges will score the match. Are we clear?” We both nod then jog back to our sides.
Dr. Alfred is really ripped. He has the full package; chiselled biceps and chest, not to mention washboard abs. I look down at my own belly to compare and all I see is most definitely not a washboard but more along the lines of a tiny airline pillow.
Ding! Ding! Ding!
The bell for the match to begin rings and the sound echoes in the arena that has suddenly hushed due to the crowd’s expectancy of my bloody defeat.
I quickly look up from my tummy and see Dr. Alfred rushing in for an early killer blow but I manage to partially avoid it as I catch my breath in the other corner.
“Concentrate Dr. Blay! Keep your head in the game!” I hear Angela barking orders from the sidelines. I refocus myself as he stares at me and sizes me up.
I jog around him a bit until I land my first blow to the stomach and he recoils in pain and what seems like surprise on his face. I must have caught him off guard. I must go in for the kill while he’s a bit confused now.
As I sprint in his direction, Angela sees what I’m doing and reminds me of our agreed strategy. “No Dr. Blay! Stick to the plan!” she yells from the sidelines but I completely ignore her and still go in for the kill while he’s wounded. I throw a couple of body jabs in his direction that all find flesh and send him to his knees as the crowd gasp.
I aim a knockout blow for his skull as I rush for him while he’s down. The blow leaves my body and flies in his direction, destined to end this match as quickly as we begun it and shock everyone but through some miracle, he swiftly gets to his feet and somehow dodges my blow. I am now completely open.
He smirks a bit as he looks at me while preparing his killer blow and it becomes so clear to me what he just did. He just let me knock him around a bit, making me think I was on top and letting me forget about defending myself and when I went in for the killer, with him being such an experienced fighter, he easily dodged it. It was a brilliantly executed plan but I can’t believe I fell for hook, line and sinker. I try to recoil once I realise I’m completely open but everything seems to be going in slow motion.
I almost manage to dodge the killer blow he throws in my direction but unfortunately, it lands plum on the side of my face, sending all my faculties into standby as he ends the match in the most embarrassing way possible as I crash to the tarmac with my head spinning.