Body Work

The round began well enough, with Alex managing to keep Kofi at a safe distance while using good foot and head movement to avoid taking significant damage. But around the halfway point Kofi tricked Alex into moving the wrong way and suddenly his back was to the ropes again. When Alex tried to push off to gain some distance his arms were a hair too slow in returning to their protective position and Kofi took advantage with a stiff hook to his injured ribs.
“That hurt him,” Doc said softly while I swore under my breath. The wince had come and gone so quickly I might have missed it if I hadn't been looking for it. I didn’t think the crowd noticed it as there was no change in their noise level but I knew Kofi realized he’d landed one where it counted.
“Don’t leave your head unprotected!” I yelled but Alex was already holding his left hand slightly lower in order to shield his ribs as he danced away after a hard counterpunch to Kofi’s body. The Killer plodded after him with a grim smile, a shark detecting blood in the water. “Keep your damn hands up!”
I expected Kofi to rush for a quick finish but he showed he was capable of patience. He threw a few more combos at Alex’s head until he found another opening to land a hard shot to the ribs. This one almost doubled Alex over to the side and he was lucky to avoid the follow up straight that was levelled at his head. The crowd began to understand that the prey was injured and began howling for their hunter to finish the chase.
“He can’t take too many more of those,” Doc told me, his lips pressed tightly together. I noticed for the first time that he was holding the white towel in his right hand.
“Give him some more time - he’ll figure this out,” I replied, turning back to the action. It’s only round two. He can do this. Come on, Alex.
For the next minute Alex successfully kept Kofi at bay, although he didn’t manage to land any offence of his own either. Someone in the crowd behind me screamed something about him ‘running scared’ but I didn’t care and I hoped he didn’t hear it. If we could get the fight to the later rounds then we’d open Alex up. Until then the plan was to avoid, avoid, avoid.
“Ten seconds to go,” Doc said as he leaned down to pick up the stool and the front end of a sigh of relief began to work its way free from my lungs. As the round came to a close Alex was once again trapped in a corner, taking punch after punch, the sound of the crowd almost drowning out the sound of leather meeting flesh over and over. The bell rang, the ref stepped in to save him, and I was back inside before Alex was halfway across the ring.
“Get some ice on the ribs,” I told Doc as I stood between Alex and the opposing corner. They didn’t need that kind of visual encouragement. “How are you doing? Does it hurt to breathe?”
“It is fine,” Alex replied with a scowl.
“Well it won’t be for much longer if you keep letting him land those punches,” I snapped back at him. “Keep moving, keep protecting yourself, get your shots in when you can but don’t force anything. Focus on the body as much as possible. We’ll get through this round and then we’ll switch things up a bit, start getting more aggressive, alright?”
Alex nodded and shoved his mouth guard back into place as Doc moved the ice from his ribs to the back of his neck. I let him have a quick sip from his water bottle and then it was time for me to be gone again.
“You really think he can survive another round of that?” Doc asked as the referee called for the bell to start round three.
“Not much choice,” I said with a shrug. “Kofi isn’t tired enough to change strategy yet – he’s still got too much power in those punches. Hopefully another round of chasing after Alex will do the trick.”
Doc, knowing there was little to be gained from any further discussion, didn’t bother to reply. I was extremely grateful for that because I was already doubting the decision enough on my own.
As the round unfolded my worries began to diminish; Alex hardly stood still for two seconds and still landed several potent punches to Kofi’s body. The Killer was beginning to breathe through his mouth a little, a sure sign he was feeling the effects of the body work and the constant motion. He missed a few punches in a row quite badly and began to look frustrated. Speed was outsmarting Strength and it was a beautiful thing to watch.
But then Speed became too enamoured with his own success and convinced himself that he could best Strength at his own game.
“One minute to go.”
“What the hell is he doing?”
“It would appear that he’s trying to take Kofi’s head off with his fist,” Doc replied dryly. “However I think the opposite is about to happen instead.”
Alex had planted himself firmly in the center of the ring and was letting his hands fly. The focus was initially on the body but then he went headhunting and that inevitably left him open to what happened next. Kofi tucked his head to the side to avoid an undisciplined straight right, leaving Alex completely off balance. Before he could right himself, Kofi countered with a powerful right uppercut that landed flush on his chin and then hammered home a sharp left hook to the body.
“Thirty seconds.”
Kofi backed Alex against the ropes with two more clean shots and then he went for his knockout punch again. The shoulder dipped, Alex reacted as he had in the first round, and then the right hook was unleashed with the same hateful intentions as it had been the first time around.
Except this time it landed.

The End

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