The Boxer

Pawel hesitates as he faces the boxer. The boxer is larger, stronger, and much more experienced than he is. The boxer also has an extremely potent left hook that has sent his last two adversaries back to their lockers prematurely. Pawel takes a moment to adjust his gloves, knocking them together with a grunt, and clamps down on his mouthpiece determinedly before leaving the safety of his corner. His opponent is agitated; he is pacing his corner like a caged animal waiting for an opportunity to escape. As Pawel steps forward the boxer pounces onto the canvas and swings wildly at Pawel. Anticipating, Pawel sidesteps and throws a block diverting the punch. As the boxer’s arm slices through the air by Pawel’s head the air becomes rank with the foulness of the boxer’s breath and body. Pawel steps back and finds his stance in time for the next attack from his enemy. The boxer comes at him quickly and makes two quick jabs with his right and then a swift uppercut with his left. Pawel is stunned by the powerful blow to his chin and is knocked back into the ropes. The boxer advances on his prey, knocking aside Pawel's arms, and pummeling Pawel in the abdomen, pounding his flesh with blow after blow. Pawel loses control of his breathing and begins to falter; his opponent is merciless; he has only one objective, to destroy his opposition. Pawel renews his effort to bring his forearms back up to protect his torso and face and stoops forward to absorb the beating with his arms. With the brief respite this provides he rolls out from under the crushing weight of the boxer’s gloves and lands a powerful punch of his own to his opponent’s left ear. The boxer is caught off guard by the audacity of this move; he is not used to the enemy getting away from him once he has had him cornered. The boxer looks around in a blind rage trying to locate his missing prey and is hit once again by a heavy blow to his face, darkening his eye and cutting the skin above his brow. He feels the warmth of his blood as it trickles down his cheek. His tongue darts out to taste it. A slow hiss escapes the boxer’s mouth and his eyes narrow to slits as he focuses on the arrogant little man who dared to strike back against an opponent as powerful and deadly as he. Pawel is surprised that he has drawn blood and unconsciously steps back in fear when he sees the sinister expression moving across the boxer’s face. He readies himself for the inevitable onslaught as the boxer steps forward and resumes the battering of his face and stomach. As his stamina fails and his legs turn to rubber, his sole focus becomes to remain standing long enough to hear the bell. He involuntarily drops his arms leaving his face completely unprotected. The boxer recognizes and seizes the opportunity that this affords and delivers his legendary knockout punch to Pawel’s jaw, lifting him off his feet and throwing him on his back to mat. The boxer stands over him breathing heavily and stares down at him with utter hatred, daring him with his eyes to make a stand. There is silence in the ring except for the sound of the boxer’s blood as it slowly but steadily spatters the canvas. Pawel groans and looks out of his swollen eyes at the menace standing before him. “How long to the bell?” he asks himself. He rolls to his right side and attempts to get up on his knees and is kicked in the stomach and sent sprawling to the mat. Pawel tries to get up again and is met again with another. But this time Pawel reaches out and grabs the boxer’s leg and embraces it with all his might. “If I can’t stand up on my own, I can at least make it hard for him to keep him down!”

This final affront drives the boxer wild and he ferociously shakes Pawel off his leg and steps away from him in disgust. Pawel uses this chance to regain his feet, and although his legs are unsure of their ability to perform, he stands. He wearily raises his fist in defiance and beckons the boxer to have another go. The boxer moves in for the kill just as the bell rings and the referee steps between them, sending them both to their respective corners. Pawel returns to his corner with the help of his corner man and slumps painfully into his chair. He is beaten, he is bloodied, and he is weak. His corner man splashes water upon his face and neck and Pawel rejoices in the coolness and refreshment of it. He looks over at the opposite corner and shudders; his opponent is beginning to pace again. “How many more rounds do I have to go?”
Mike Spencer April 29, 2008

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