Battered And Bruised

“There… that’s him,” I said, pointing to the man in the grey hoodie to the left of The Killer as he made his way to the ring with his small entourage.
 
“I must need new glasses,” Tommy muttered as he brought his nose within inches of the computer monitor, “all I see is one big mass of shadow. You’re sure that’s the guy downstairs?”
 
“You need new eyeballs,” I replied, rearranging the ice pack on my hand. “And yeah, the video quality isn’t great, but that’s Tony.”
 
“He was sent to beat me up before the fight?” Alex asked softly, fiddling with the tape Tommy had used to keep the ice pack tight against his ribs. He didn’t seem to have been hurt too badly but we were taking nothing for granted at such a late stage of the game. The three of us were gathered in Doug’s office, seated around his archaic, rumbling computer, preparing to formulate Alex’s plan for Saturday night.
 
“I imagine his job was to provide a scouting report but when the opportunity to do some damage was dropped into his lap he wasn’t about to say no.” I sighed and let my head fall back to stare at the cobwebbed ceiling. “It’s dirty pool but we can’t prove it and hopefully no serious damage was done. How are you feeling?”
 
“I have been hurt much worse before in my life,” he replied with a slight shrug. “But he is not my opponent - that man is. Tell me what I need to know.”
 
“Kid’s got better focus than you,” Tommy wheezed happily as I manoeuvred the mouse with my left hand to advance the footage to the middle of round one. He opened his mouth to follow that up but then thought better of it and leaned in to examine the fighters instead. “See that? He shuffles his left foot before he throws his jab.”
 
“Yeah but we don’t want you staring at his feet – watch how his shoulders stutter right before he throws it. That’s what you want to watch out for.” I let another half a minute go by in silence. “Okay, see what he’s doing? He throws that left jab to the face and then follows with a straight right to the body. He will keep doing that until his opponent starts protecting against it… like that… and then instead of following with the straight, he throws a hook to the head… like that.”
 
We watched as his opponent stumbled backwards before regaining his equilibrium. Tommy let out an impressed whistle when he didn’t go down but that was cut off by another thundering right hook from The Killer that finished the fight. Tommy scratched his chin and grunted while the crowd around the ring went crazy and Alex’s opponent strutted his way from one corner to the next.
 
“Play that again for me,” he said. I did as he demanded, looking away just as the knockout blow landed. “Alright, got any other fights to watch?”
 
I opened up the second file on the CD I had burned two nights before and we watched a similar scene play out. This time his opponent lasted until round five. I double clicked the third file and it was like watching the first fight all over again. I glanced over at Alex and saw no fear, only intense curiosity along with a leftover trace of anger in the set of his jaw. I knew he was outraged by The Killer sending his thug to soften him up but he was hiding it very well. It was going to be our job to corral and channel that anger.
 
“Okay, here’s the deal,” Tommy announced as we viewed fight number four. “The bastard has a devil of a right hook but he gives it away every time. See that? He dips his left shoulder, like he’s going to throw a left uppercut, and then instead he brings home that hook. Every time. See? Again!” I moved the playback bar back slightly and watched closely.
 
“So he does,” I said with a smile. “Has he actually thrown a left uppercut in any of these fights?”
 
“Not once,” Alex replied immediately.
 
“Alright then,” I said as I clicked off the monitor and ejected the CD. “So this afternoon we’re going to spend some time on different ways to handle that – counters, dodges, clinches, whatever. We are not letting you get hit by that hook, got it?”
 
“Okay Nate, sounds good.” Alex stood up as I fumbled with the plastic CD case. “Are you sure your hand is okay? Maybe you should see a doctor about it.”
 
“It’ll be fine,” I muttered before I remembered a detail that had slipped my mind. “Hey, have you received your medical clearance to fight yet?”
 
“No, I was going to visit a walk-in clinic tomorrow morning.”
 
“Oh, that won’t do at all,” I said, reaching for the phone. “I’ll get you an appointment with my doctor and I’ll come along, let him check my hand out at the same time.”
 
“It is not too late to schedule an appointment?” Alex said, his forehead creased with doubt.
 
“Oh don’t you worry,” I told him with a grin as I dialled the number from memory. “It’s never too late for Doc to find time for me.” And just as his secretary picked up at the other end of the line, I realized that I had one more favour to ask of Doc.

The End

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