The Stylist

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Before 1967, the Super Middleweight Division in boxing simply did not exist. Therefore, it was not uncommon for a middleweight to challenge a boxer from the light-heavyweight division. In this this story, we follow Clay Robinson, the middleweight champion of the world, as he challenges Light Heavyweight champion Muarice Boucher in a prize fight. Clay not only faces over whelming odds of losing, but prejudice along the way. Nevertheless, Clay believes he has what it takes to make it in the Light Heavyweight division.

Submitted: February 11, 2016

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Submitted: February 11, 2016

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The Stylist

 

“How are you on the weight, Clay?” Dewitt asks him.

Clay Robinson’s finishing a hearty lunch: 3 scrambled eggs, a T-bone steak, and a buttermilk muffin. The waitress had told him that the muffins were very delicious, fresh from the oven. The two men are sitting at a table inside Café Georgette. The café stands only a couple of miles outside of Paris. ‘I’ll be lucky to make the weight with my clothes on.’ Clay thinks to himself. Clay looks over at his manager. Jack Dewitt stares into the lazy intersection where there are hardly any cars riding the stoned street. The sun is high, and the sky is clear, big, and blue.

“This town’s got to be pretty old, right?” Clay asks his manager. Dewitt is inattentive, staring aimlessly toward the road outside. He keeps his focus on the street, his expression is stolid. Dewitt shows little attention to the middleweight champion. Clay’s tried his hardest to reach at least 158 pounds from 149 within a couple of days. “Maybe not as old as you though,” Clay says, he thinks this will catch Dewitt’s attention.

The manager snaps his head straight toward the young fighter. “Your metabolism works too fast, kid,” Dewitt says to the young man. “Maybe we should’ve never agreed to this whole light-heavyweight thing.”

“There ain’t nobody for me to fight as a middleweight anymore, Dewitt. Nobody. Speed still sells, but there just ain’t nobody exciting to fight,” He alerts his manager. Clay’s sure of what the crowd loves, and he's positive that he can supply the fans with what they expect out of the light-heavyweight division.

“These guys are sluggers and swarmers, Clay,” Dewitt affirms the young boxer. “Besides, who wants to see a light-heavyweight win by points?” He finishes. ‘Who wants to see any boxer win by points?’ Dewitt says to himself. Dewitt hardly looks at the young man in the eyes, taking quick sips from his coffee cup, placing it back on the saucer when he's refreshed.

Clay smirks, “You forget the Vickers fight,” he tells Dewitt. Clay Robinson scored a technical knockout against middleweight Danny Vickers in the 6th round of their fight. A combination of flurries, then a left handed Bolo punch cut Vickers eye open at the lid. A stumbling Vickers was caught by the referee before hitting the ground. “Boucher ain’t nothing but a bum. A big ugly bear,” Clay assures Dewitt.

Dewitt scratches at his neatly trimmed beard; grayed by experience, trimmed by a fine French woman he met on the train ride from Nice to Paris. With only a few hours to go until the official weigh in, the men sit quietly in the café. They’re drinking black coffee, eating blood oranges. They sit patiently, for they are waiting on a man named Klein. A man of great importance. A man with beneficial resources. However, these means do not drive Clay Robinson to fight in the light-heavyweight division. Nevertheless, Klein's taken it upon himself to bet in favor of Clay, or so it appears. Whether or not Clay cares isn’t of any importance. The two men sitting in the well-lit café immediately notice a black starlight coupe pull into the parking lot.

“This guy’s going to be sweet on you, Clay. Very sweet,” Dewitt tells his fighter. “You just try to stay humble, and quiet.”

“If the man asks me something then I’ll answer,” Clay says, acknowledging his free will to do so.

“Keep that charm in your pocket kid. It won’t do you any good here. This is a different type of audience, you know that.”

Clay sits in his chair with his hands crossed, feeling underestimated by his manager. Dewitt signals to the waitress behind the bar. She promptly begins walking toward the table.

“Give me a couple more oranges, and some more coffee,” Dewitt orders. “And peel the skins off will yah?” He emphatically tells the waitress. As the men look out from inside, they see Klein: he opens the door and steps out onto the gravel ground of the parking lot. He's a tall, thin man with exciting features: A pair of sunglasses rests over his sharp nose, his hair is jet-black and slicked back, his suit is fitted from the shoulders to the ankles. He strides with confidence, walking straight to the door without a second thought. The bell attached to a string above the door sounds as he steps into the café. With a grin that almost spans the entirety of his face, Klein begins to speak.

“So this is the next light-heavyweight champion?” He says. Dewitt looks at the man with suspicious eyes.

“He hasn’t even gotten weighed yet,” Dewitt answers. He was irritated from all the waiting. Klein takes a seat, pressing his hand on his stomach.

“He’ll make it. Undoubtedly,” Klein reassures the manager. Finally, the waitress comes back with the coffee and oranges. She sets the plate of oranges down onto the table, and then the coffee follows. Dewitt throws a nasty look at the young lady for not peeling the skins off the oranges like he ordered. That's Dewitt, he gives dirty looks to whoever he wants, whenever he wants.

“For you, sir?” The waitress asks Klein, her English wasn’t all too bad. Clay laid sweet eyes on the young woman whenever she came near. She’s sandy blonde with a fair complexion, the eyes brown.

“Rien, je vous remercie.” He politely tells the waitress. “We won’t be much longer,” Klein says, he redirects his attention to Clay and Dewitt. “So, what’s the idea? How do you plan on defeating Boucher?” Klein leans in, an excited and vehement glow begins to radiate from this man.

“He’s a pretty big fella,” Clay answers, loosening the grip on his fingers. Still crossed.

“When the fight starts then you’ll see how Clay’ll approach Boucher.”

“Hm,” Klein sniggers at Dewitt. “Phlegmatic is the only way to describe you, Clay. You’re not at all nervous fighting the light-heavyweight champion of the world?” Klein asks the middleweight. Then, Klein takes out a little white carton of cigarettes, he looks up toward the ceiling, then back at Clay. “He’s a monstrous combatant, is he not?” Klein questions.

 Next to the three men are a group of ladies. They’re drinking.

“That’s what it looks like on film…” Clay answers.

“That’s no question to ask a fighter!” Dewitt speaks out, “You’re something else you know that. It’s one streak of bad luck to have a Jew promoting this fight, it’s another that he happens to be a Frenchman.” The women look at the three men aggressively, especially toward the two Americans.

“Cool it, Dewitt,” Clay tells his manager. A sardonic smile encompasses Klein’s face as he stares at Dewitt.

“I have no doubts that the boy could take on Boucher,” Klein says. “It’s just something I was curious to ask, that’s all,” He states, afterwards, he takes a few long drags from the cigarette, and then puts it out.

“Alright, alright. Both of you can stop flirting. I’m here for the purse and for the title. How much do you figure I can make from this bout?” Clay asks.

Klein reaches for another cigarette from inside the carton, lights it, inhales, and exhales. He begins to scratch at his chin. He's looking on at Clay, almost as if determining his worth. “This fight is to receive much coverage, and not only in Europe...the states will surely broadcast this fight,” he says, rubbing at his chin. Klein looks out into the street and it’s now much busier than before. Cars are zooming down the road, the children from the school house two blocks down from the café are walking home, and the sun is still high in the sky.

“Well…” Dewitt waits for an answer.

“Given the circumstance, what with you being so light in weight, and Boucher being the champion.” Klein pauses once again to think, “I’d say around $35,000.” He says, taking another drag. Clay’s eyes widen and his lips jitter. “And that’s just for you Clay, after everybody involved has taken their cut, of course. Almost as much as President Eisenhower.” A chuckle ensues.

“There’s no catch? How’s that? I’ve heard you Frenchies are good at the old bait and switch.” Dewitt tells him. The ladies next to them have finally had enough.

“Va te faire foutre!” One of the ladies says to Dewitt. “Putain d'Amérique!” She says, and then she takes a long, violent gulp of whatever is in her glass. Klein bursts out into laughter, yet Clay just sits there confused. She continues, this time in English, “You know nothing, stupid old man. Americans so stupid to think French as stupid as them. Stupid!”

“Quiet down doll, before I come outta retirement and make my KO record 35.”

“Come on, Dewitt. Cool it, man!” Clay says as he grabs at his manager’s forearm. “We don’t need this shit!”

Klein begins to laugh at the seemingly disorganized duo, these two are trying to convince him and the world that Clay can beat the light-heavyweight champion just 3 days from today.

“Baaah! Boucher could beat you and the pretty boy in 3 round. Easy!” Another shot, “Easy!” The women says, she then laughs at the Americans.

“Shall we go to the hotel for the weigh in?” Klein asks the men.

“Coup d'oeil! Coup d'oeil! Le light-heavyweight champion!” She announces, laughing loudly and obnoxiously, and soon her friends join in on the fun. “Only in your dream American.” The men make their way out of the café. Clay keeps his head up as they walk out. On their way to the parking lot he looks at the waitress and smiles. She gives a half smile in return, and then she looks down.

  Once in their hotel room, Dewitt and Clay Robinson are met by Clay’s corner man Archie Braddock, and trainer Quincy McClellan, who Clay calls “Q.” Clay throws himself onto the bed the minute he and Dewitt get back from the café.

“Don’t get too comfortable, kid,” Dewitt orders. Dewitt walks over to the sink and starts washing his hands and face. He looks at himself in the mirror for a moment or so, and then continues to wash.

“How’d the meeting go?” Archie asks the men. Clay lays in silence on the bed. Unresponsive.

“God Damnit, Clay! Get up you bum!” Dewitt yells at the young fighter.

“I figure it didn’t go all too well,” Q says aloud.

“Take it easy on the Kid, Dewitt! He don’t need the stress.” Archie yells to Dewitt. Archie's a short Ashkenazi; a Welterweight in his younger years.

“Take it easy!? We’ve got the light-heavyweight champ downstairs, and you want him to take it easy?” Dewitt says as he exits the bathroom. He starts pacing back and forth and back and forth at the foot of Clay’s bed.

“We?” Archie questions. A confused look strikes Archie’s face as he stares at Dewitt.

“Yea, we! We’ve got a champion here, and we’ve got to push him if he wants to make it in this division. Clay get up, we’ve got to go to the dining hall for the weigh in!”

“Lemme tell you something, Dewitt. You don’t sweat with this kid, you don’t hurt with this kid, and you sure as hell will not order this kid around!” Archie’s ready for battle himself, his chest gets puffy and defensive, ready to protect Clay.

“Both of you cool it. I’m up. When I’m up, I’m up. Y’all are flirting too much,” Clay says, using his hands to push himself up from the bed. “Let’s go meet Maurice Boucher.” The men exit the room.

As Clay Robinson makes his way from his room to the dining hall he begins chatting with his mentors playfully as he usually does.

“First one to the elevator buys dinner, chump!” Clay yells to Q. They began to race down the hall, neck to neck until Clay hits the turbo and wins. No contest.

“I’ll buy you dinner for trying, Q,” Clay says, slapping Q on the back of the head.

“See, Dewitt,” Archie turns to the manager as they both notice the young man down the hall, “He’s a good kid, and a hell of a fighter for you to be so sore toward him. I won’t stand for it. He ain’t no work horse!”

“No, maybe not, Archie. But he is a boxer, and boxing isn’t just a sport. It’s still a business. And, for Clay, for Clay it’s the only way to make a living you see. The kid doesn’t have degree of any kind, and I don’t see him making some sort of private practice anytime soon. So, he is a work horse. This is his work, and it’s up to us to ride on him, and ride on him hard if he starts to slack,” Dewitt finishes saying, as Archie just shakes his head in disagreement.

“You ever seen this guy, Boucher in person?” Q asks Clay.

“Nope. Only on film. He seems like a real big guy. Flat footed.” The elevator door opens, and the men are greeted by the lift man.

“Going down?”

“Man, how’d you know? ‘You some kind of fortune teller?” Clay says to the lift man, and the lift man smiles.

The dining hall is packed with journalists, photographers, businessmen, and ladies. The popping of flash bulbs resonates throughout the hall, and the loud chatter of conversations could almost make a person go deaf. Clay enters the room with his team, and though they cannot spot out Boucher, they make their way to the elevated platform in the far side of the dining hall. As Clay makes his way farther and farther into the room, silence enters the hall with him. The conversations dwindle, until suddenly the only sound that can be heard are the popping of flash bulbs as they blind Clay on his way to the stage.

“Where’s Boucher?” Clay asks Q, and Q just shrugs.

“Relax, Kid. Relax,” Archie utters, trying to calm the young Clay down. Clay Robinson’s anxious, his body language shows this: swaying from left to right, his arms crossed behind his back. He finally takes a seat on one of the chairs behind one the tables on the stage. The scale stands in the middle of the stage and another table stands on the other side of it. Before long, the crowd focuses their attention off of Clay and onto the entrance of the dining hall. Suddenly, Boucher walks in with his entourage. He stands 5’9 tall, only a couple of inches shorter than Robinson, but boy is he bigger. The man is much stockier compared to Clay’s lean appearance. A mean mug is displayed on Boucher’s face, completely unbothered by the circus that surrounds him. Boucher takes a seat behind the table opposite of Clay’s. With the two men finally present, a member from the commissioner’s office begins to announce the rules and regulations of the weigh in.

“May I have both men to the center of the stage? Champion and Challenger,” The official yells out over the popping flash bulbs and indistinguishable chatter. The two men approach center stage and each fighter takes a good look at one another for the first time. Boucher is intimidating in demeanor and size, lacking any sense of emotion, his eyebrows turned up, and his lips frowning. Clay is cool and composed as he usually appears to be during a weigh in. Boucher is truly trying to size up Clay. The official calls upon Boucher first.

“First, the Champion!” He cries. Boucher steps onto the scale, never breaking eye contact from Clay. “The Champion! 173! 173! The Champion!” The official yells again, and a roar of applause follows as Boucher raises his arms, flexing his muscles for the spectators. As he gets off the scale, Boucher got near Clay, almost face to face. Clay did not look at the champion in the eyes, he stared straight off into the distance. He didn’t phase it.

“Next, the Challenger!” The official announces. Clay humbly approaches the scale as he begins to hear snickering and soft conversation. The men around him are truly criticizing his appearance. There’s a gut wrenching feeling in Clay. Clay steps onto the scale.

“The Challenger! 157 and 1/2! The Challenger! 157 and 1/2!” Clay could’ve sworn he heard the room gasp in unison. “Gentleman, take your seats!” As both men walk back to their tables, the journalists and photographers ready themselves for pictures, questions, and comments.

The official addresses the audience once again for the last time, “Now, both fighters will remain in the hall for a few moments and are open for questions.”

“Clay, Clay, Clay, Clay!” A mob of journalists shout to the young fighter. They’re waving their pencils violently in the air, each one attempting to catch the attention of the middleweight. The challenger points at one.

“Thanks, Clay. How do you feel about coming in under the weight you were gunning for?” You were shooting for 158, am I right?”

“It’s a half of a pound. I was thinking of scarfing some French fries after this to make up for it,” He says, smiling. The crowd erupts in smiles and light laughter. Boucher is unimpressed by the young fighter’s charm.

“Clay, Clay, Clay, Clay!” The herd calls to the challenger once again. He points to one.

“How do you do, Clay? Now with Boucher supposedly having the more powerful punches and the ability to work inside, how will your mobility and speed work out if he cuts down the size of the ring? You’ve never face a stalker like Boucher. What if her forces you to into a toe to toe situation?” 

Clay takes a quick moment to reflect on this question, and then answers, “Boucher is a great light-heavyweight, we know this, but, he’s never gone up against speed like mine. He’s the fastest man in his division, and that’s not saying too much. He’s never seen real speed in the ring,” Clay says in a serious tone.

“Boucher, Boucher, Boucher, Boucher!” The crowd now shifts their attention toward the champion to see what his response is to the eagerness and confidence of the challenger. He points to one.

“The man says he’s faster than you, Boucher. How will you approach Robinson?” The reporter asks, he looks on intently.

Boucher looks over to Robinson and answers the question, “I didn’t even know this boy’s name until you men started screaming it,” Boucher says, showing no respect to Clay. “But he will remember mine,” He looks over at Clay and continues, “No more middleweights. You can run, but, you won’t go anywhere. I chase you, and when I catch you, I will drop you. Fast.” The room goes quiet as both Champions stare at each other. “Saturday night, in Paris. I make the middleweight championship vacant,” The Light heavyweight Champion says.  Boucher raises himself from his chair and exits the dining hall. Clay takes this as the end of the conference and exits soon thereafter.

“Let’s go get a burger, Q,” Clays says.

“Hold up, Champ. I’m fixing to hit the bar real quick,” Q answers back.

“Alright, Man. I’ll meet you in the cafeteria!”

As Dewitt is exiting the dining hall he feels a tapping on the shoulder. It’s Klein, he nods and orders the manager to walk and talk with him. “Follow me, Dewitt,” Q looks on suspiciously, quietly, he peeks on the conversation.

“What’s this all about?” Dewitt asks, looking puzzled.

“You’ve got a good fighter, very popular with the people, yes?”

“Yea, well, Clay’s always been an entertainer.”

“Yes, yes. The people’s champion, eh?”

“Hm. What’s this about, Klein?” Dewitt questions aggressively.

“No doubt he is a great fighter, but, he will not beat Boucher. This I know.”

“What? So much for you being our promoter.”

“This has nothing to do with the promoting,” Klein says, his accent draw out, and somewhat thick.

“Oh yea?”

“We are in the same business, no? We help fighters get fights, but, we must also feed our families, no?”

“What are you getting at, Klein?”

“How would you like to double your profits?”

“Oh yea?”

“Oh yes,” Klein smiles devilishly at Dewitt.

“What’s the catch?”

“Bet on Boucher.”

“Excuse me?”

“Bet against your boxer.”

“Where do you get off telling me to bet against my fighter, you sonofabitch.”

“Think, you dumb bastard! If Clay gives a performance worthwhile, and loses, the public will call for a rematch. Naturally!” Klein is ecstatic.

“What makes you think he’ll lose?”

“Did you not see the weigh in? A 15 pound advantage! Both men are undefeated. Double your profits, Dewitt,” Dewitt grows quite, contemplating on the facts given by Klein. He knows that his fighter has a lot of heart and would give the audience a good fight. But, good enough for a rematch?

“Ok, Ok, Klein. I’ll put some down on Boucher. Put me down for $4,000 on Boucher. But, I swear to god you sonofabitch, this better not get back to me!” But it already had, for Q heard from only a few feet away. 

“It’s simply business, my friend. Your man receives a purse and a rematch at the end of this. It is a win-win,” The two men shake hands and part ways.

“Sonofabitch,” Q mutters to himself.

In the basement of the hotel, the management have set up a ring, a punching bag, and a speed bag for Robinson to use. As he ties his boxing wrap onto his hands, Clay begins to banter with his mentors.

“In what round do y’all think I can drop this chump?” Clay jokes arounds, finishing up his wrapping. Aroundu the ring, sitting on fold out chairs, journalists begin to flip open their handheld note pads, laughing and enjoying the aura of the challenger.

“Boucher’s pretty big, a real bully too!” One journalist says.

“For a bum. He’s a bum,” Q chimes in. Archie stands in front of Clay, strapping in and lacing up one glove at a time.

“You’ve got some crisp punches, Clay. But what will you do if your legs turn to rubber by the later rounds?” One more says.

“My legs are the only thing that’ll keep this fight going, young man!” Clay says to the gray haired reporter while he jumps around in place. With the gloves on, Clay walks over to the bag and begins to stick and move. A reporter moves closer toward him, wanting to talk.

“Clay, how do you feel today?” The reporter asks.

“Pretty good, how yah doing?” Clay answers, punching at the bag.

“You finally met Boucher today, huh Kid.”

“He wasn’t too friendly!” Clay says, panting lightly, but still punching at the bag. A combination: Leading Right jab, jab, jab, Right hook to the body, Left hook, Right upper cut!

“What did he have to say?”

“He didn’t even shake my hand!” Still punching: Left, left, right.

“What are you going to do about that?” the reporter asks.

“Now, he must fall!” He answers the reporter, captivating the other on lookers. The crowd jeers with laughter, hollering and shouting at the fighter. They stare at the middleweight as he continues with his rhythmic bouncing against the swinging bag, jabbing and hooking as though he can sense when his opponent is vulnerable. Sweat draws from his body as he imagines Boucher is right there in front of him, trying to throw his weight onto him, attempting his very best to knock him out. Boucher is that type of fighter. A bully. A fighter that looks for a KO within the first few rounds, Clay knows this. Even though Clay would rather out box Boucher for the full 15, he knows he’ll have to come up with a few other strategies to beat his opponent.

“You’ve heard what they call you hear in France, right?” One smiling reporter asks Clay.

“Another colored with a big mouth?” He answers. The crowd bursts into jollity over the charming fighter’s shrewdness.

Attempting to contain his coolness, the reporter says, “The Southpaw Silencer.”

“I don’t like it, they should’ve asked me before it made print.”

“Do you think your stance with prove to be an advantage?” The reporter asks.

“Nah. A man as pretty as Boucher must spend at least five hours a day staring into the mirror.” Clay says, poking fun of Boucher’s less than attractive facial features. The audience chuckles.

“You will lose," A reporter says aloud. The entire crowd suddenly goes quiet, and all eyes are on Clay. The fighter continues to punch and bounce and punch and bounce, never not once looking at the reporter that makes this comment.

“I hope you haven’t placed your bets, man!” Clay says. The crowd smiles at Clay. He slows down his pace, and soon enough he finishes with the heavy bag. As he finishes up on the bag he calls out to Q. “Alright, sweetness, let’s dance in the ring a little,” Clay says as he walks toward the ring. The opinionated reporters begin to scatter out of the basement little by little, and only a few reporters stay to watch Clay train. Many of them French. The Fight is only one night away.

 The night of the fight is finally upon Clay. He stands near a corner in his dressing room. Q and Archie are standing near him. Archie begins looking over his equipment he intends to use on Clay during the fight: Q-tips, Vaseline, bandages, gauzes, and Clay’s water bottle. Clay begins bobbing his head left and right, his eyes wide open, transfixed on the floor. There is no breaking his concentration. He begins bouncing up and down, loosening his arms up, keeping them pointed toward the floor at waist level, punching at the air. He raises his hands above his head. He starts shadow boxing, going through his motions and combinations. The tails of his robe flapping with the wind as he moves and dances. Soon enough, Dewitt walks into the room.

“How are you feeling, champ,” He says with a half-hearted smile on his face.

“Good,” Clay answers, still bouncing, moving his shoulders front to back.

“Good, good,” Dewitt pauses to take a good look at the fighter. “Look, Clay, you know the odds are slightly against you. That doesn’t matter. You go out there and you give this fight your best. You go out there tonight and you fight as if it’s your last fight ever, kid.”

“You’re a motivational speaker too, Dewitt?” Clay smiles, “Man, go to ringside, I’ll see you there.”

Dewitt suddenly grows furious with Clay. “What did you say you little punk?”

“Hey, hey, cool it!” Archie steps in to defend Clay.

“It’s alright, Archie,” Clay holds out his arm to stop his corner-man. “Listen Chump, you go and sit ringside. But, you go and sit in the opposite corner, you catch me? You ain’t nothing but a trickster.”

“Where do you get off?”

“Stop playing, Dewitt. You ain’t looking out for nobody but yourself.”

“You’re ungrateful, Clay!” Dewitt says as he begins to walk out of the dressing room, but not before stopping himself. In a state of realization, he turns back to Clay with some final words, “You sure about this?”

“I don’t want you near my corner.”

“Alright, Kid,” He says, “Alright. I did it for you, kid,”

“I’m sure you did.”

 As Dewitt leaves, the referee of the night walks into the dressing room to brief Clay on the night’s rules.

“Good evening, Mr. Robinson. My name is Angelo Franco.” The referee says. Clay nods his head. “To begin, I want a clean fight. There is no three knockdown rule. There is a mandatory 8 count. I call low blows this far beneath the belt,” The referee signals about 2 inches below Clay’s waist. “I repeat, there is a standing 8 count rule. If I believe that you are no longer able to continue fighting, then I will stop the fight. Are my rules clear?” The referee asks Clay. Clay nods. “Do you have any questions?”

“Where’you’from?” Clay asks.

“Spain.”

“Let’s go, Kid,” Archie says to Clay, and the three men begin their walk to the ring.

As they make their way to the ring, they enter the arena through a cement tunnel. Thousands of spectators in attendance at the Velodrome D'hiver really begin to show their resentment and hatred of Clay as he walks deeper and deeper into the arena. A sea of boos engulf the arena. Clay’s never felt so foreign in his life. Finally at the ringside steps, Clay climbs them and makes his way inside the ring. His stomach drops straight to hell. He’s ready. Once in the ring, Clay starts to bounce as he did in his dressing room. Suddenly, a great roar of intense cheers and hollering floods the arena. The champion is on his way to the ring. Roses fly in midair, some even reach the feet of the champion. He’s a mean looking man, not a single expression of emotion is drawn on his face. The champion enters the ring and stares maliciously at Clay. There the two boxers stand, one in the red corner, the other in the blue. The announcer starts with the introductions:

“Welcome ladies and gentleman to the main bout between Clay Robinson, and Light-Heavyweight Champion Maurice Boucher!” The crowd erupts with excitement. “First, in the blue corner, weighing 157 pounds, fighting out of Los Angeles, California, the middleweight champion of the world! Clay, Robinson!” Boos follow. Clay’s continues bouncing up and down on his feet, staring at Boucher.

“We’re cheering for you, Kid,” Archie says to the young fighter. Clay nods.

“Next, in the red corner, weighing in at 173, the pride of Nice, France. The Light-Heavyweight Champion of the world, Maurice “mains d'acier” Boucher!” Clay can’t hear himself think over the relentless cheering. The referee signals for the two men to step toward the center of the ring. They do so. Now face to face, the referee speaks to both fighters.

“Good evening, gentleman. I went over the rules in your dressing rooms, I want a clean fight, protect yourselves at all times, and come out boxing. Touch gloves.” Clay extends his hand to meet Boucher’s gloves, however, Boucher does not return the gesture. A smile is all Clay offers instead. The men head back to their respected corners to receive final instructions before the ring of the first bell.

“Alright, Kid, don’t go after this guy right away. Dance with him a little. Remember, he wants to be outta here before suppers on the table.” Archie tells Clay, meanwhile Q rubs Vaseline on Clay’s arms and face. Clay nods. Clay stares on at Boucher from across the ring. His heart beating faster than ever before, sweat drawn on his face. He knows he’s ready. Ding!

They meet at the center of the ring. Clay moves near Boucher, awkwardly fast, hot-dogging, and faking with his hands. Moving his head in and out, trying to tempt Boucher to throw a punch. One can see that Robinson in the white trunks, stands at almost 6 feet, just a few inches above Boucher. But of course, there’s a big difference in their weight tonight. Robinson’s long range contributes to his effectiveness. He’s trying to establish the jab from the get go. Right. Clay pulls back and hops to his left. Right jab. Clay moves to his right. Right jab once again. He won’t stop moving as Boucher stalks the lighter man. Clay is awkwardly fast, and Boucher is the aggressor. Boucher, trying to avoid those right hand leads. The challenger is jabbing all over: The body, the head. Clay shuffles to right, then to his left, but Boucher tires his best to move closer. Moving patiently with his peek-a-boo style. Boucher is not head hunting yet, rather, he’s throwing punches to the body, and landing. Clay continues with his right hand leads, then suddenly, a left hand landing on Boucher’s forehead. The best punch of the fight so far!

Ding! The bell  ending round one sounds. Moving on over to the challenger’s corner, Archie begins to give Clay directions, “Alright, Kid, you’re looking good. Keep moving and establish that jab! Keep it up, Clay.” Clay nods. Clays rises up from hs stool. Ding!

The fighters come out to the center of the ring. Clay starts throwing his jabs once again. However, Boucher, seemingly more aggressive, is trying to cut down Clay’s real estate. He’s allowing Clay to land some jabs in the process of cornering Clay into the ropes. Boucher throws a roaring right hook to Clay’s body knocking him into the ropes. Clay’s hurt! He covers up as Boucher begins to throw violent hooks at Clay’s body.

“Get away from the ropes, kid!” Archie screams from the corner. Clay withstands a few more punches before shuffling to his left, dodging Boucher’s left hook. Clay shuffles quickly to his right, then to his left again. Boucher comes in close once more to slug the challenger, he’s flat footed. He lands a hard right on Clay’s forehead, Clay ties him up. Even though Clay is trying to hold him, Boucher is throwing hooks to the body. Franco breaks them up, pushing each fighter away.

“Ok, Fight!” Franco says. Boucher rushes Clay aggressively once again. Using his shorter frame as an advantage, he throws another set of hooks toward Clay’s body. He forces Clay to move backwards. Boucher is using a lot of energy here.

“Le corde liu! Le corde liu!” Boucher’s corner-man yells out, ordering his fighter to force Clay into the ropes. Boucher releases a ton of energy once again. Clay allows himself to get roped, covering up to receive a beating from the champion. Hook after hook, Clay seems to take the damage well, or at least well enough not to get knocked down. Right hook, left hook, and Clay just covers up. He tries to tie up Boucher, but, Boucher slips out of it and continues to punch Clay. Finally, Clay slips out from the ropes and moves to his right.

 Ding! Both fighters head back to their corners. Boucher is huffing and puffing, looking much more worn out than before.

“God damnit, Kid!” Archie says as he wipes Vaseline on Clay’s forehead, “Stay away from the ropes, Clay. You’re blowing it, Kid! Just dance with him, and establish that jab!” Clay nods. Clay stands up, he’s ready for the next round. Ding!

Clay comes out bouncing and dancing. Again, awkwardly fast, almost too awkward for the champion. Boucher begins to head hunt. Throwing punch after punch towards Clay’s dome. However, Clay’s speed is keeping him from getting hit. Dodging a left hook by bending down, a right jab by moving his head back. Dipping and dodging, dipping and dodging! Bobbing and weaving from left to right! As Boucher misses with his right hook, Clay takes aims for his vulnerable chin. Boom! A solid right jab to Boucher’s chin, Boucher is lightly stunned, and he stumbles. However, Boucher manages to connect with a soft left hand, and suddenly Clay’s eyes are bothering him. He can’t help but rub at his eyes. They begin to burn. Clay manages to bounce around and shuffle a bit. Boucher moves in to work the body.

“Le corde liu! Le corde liu!”

Clay tries to tie up Boucher, but it’s no use. Boucher punches at the body of the young fighter.

“Move, Kid! Move!” Archie yells. Clay can hardly see in front of him his eyes are burning so bad. Clay uses his gloves to wipe his eye, but, it’s no use. He manages to dodge a right hook thrown by Boucher, but, gets nailed by a quick left in the process. Clay moves backwards, hopping, and hoping the round will end soon.

Ding! The fighters go back to their corners.

“Don’t get roped up, Kid. Dance! But don’t go at him yet, keep wearing him down,” Archie says.

“My eyes, Archie,” Clay says, his eyes blinking rapidly.

“What’s wrong, Clay?”

“My eyes. They burn.” Archie looks over at Boucher’s corner with much suspicion. “Gimme the rag, Q!” Archie begins to dip the rag in the ice bucket, and then rubs it over Clay’s face.

“That’s better,” Clay says.

“They still burn?”

“A little, but less,” Clay says, getting up, moving, ready for the next round.

Ding!

“Wear him down, Kid!”

 The champion comes out to the center of the ring, his pace slower, and his arms much lower than before. Clay throws a right to the body, then another right to the head. Suddenly, Clay releases some Flurries on the champion’s face: Left, right, left, right. The champion covers up, however, with a right upper cut, the challenger cuts through Boucher’s defense and connects. Boucher stumbles, but continues to cover up.

“Jab him, Kid!” Archie yells to Clay. Clay jabs and jabs! Socking Boucher over and over again. Boucher has difficulty covering up. Clay begins to yell to Boucher.

“What’s my name?!” A stinging right jab connects to Boucher’s face, and once again, “What’s my name?” Boucher is hurt. Boucher tries to throw a hook but misses as Clay backs away. Boucher is having trouble trying to stay up, he wobbles. He released too much energy on Clay in the earlier rounds. Clay starts his rhythmic bouncing once again, forcing Boucher to move in closer. Boucher throws a combination of hooks, missing by only a few inches, but, still missing.  Clay hollers at him once again.

“Stop talking, Clay!” Archie screams.

Ding! Back to the corners they go.

“Set the tempo, Clay! Stop playing with him!” Archie directs Robinson. “Don’t let up!” Clay nods, and then rises from his stool. “Go get that title, kid!”

Ding! The crowd cheers on Robinson. Clay shuffles around the champion, picking his next moves carefully. Jab, jab, jab! Boucher begins to bleed out of his left eye. He keeps on aggressively stalking Clay, or so it seems. He’s head hunting. Boucher socks Clay, connecting with a shot to the body. Clay hops to his left, then to his right. He swings at Boucher, striking him hard on the chin. Boucher wobbles! Suddenly, Clay releases a flurry of punches once again! Boucher blocks one, but 3 more connect to his forehead and cheeks. Clay cocks his left arm and releases his Bolo punch upon Boucher’s chin. The champion is strong and durable, yet his legs are looking like rubber now. Clay hits him once more with the Bolo. Boucher cannot answer Clay’s attacks, and he now has a puffy right eye. The challenger unloads again. The crowd screams and shouts! Speed certainly sells. Boucher won’t go down, but he still will not answer. The beating seems unstoppable. Out of nowhere, Franco is caught in the middle of both fighters, he’s facing Boucher and waving his hand in the air. He yells,

“No mas! That’s it! That’s it!” The bell sounds! Archie and Q rush Clay in a frenzy of celebration. The crowd erupts as Clay is announced the winner. Clay opens his mouth wide, and the expression on his face is one of pure shock. He raises his hands to the air and lets out a great shout. He points to random members of the audience as they cheer him on. The fight is over.

A lot of people try to slap Clay on the back as he cuts through the mob, and heads straight toward his dressing room. Soon thereafter, Clay finds himself on his dressing room table. He’s lying face up, his chest parallel to the ceiling. Only Q is in the room with him.

“It’s funny how much harder you work when the crowd’s against you,” Clay says to Q.

“You’re some fighter, Clay.”

“Nah,” Clay answers, “It was nothing.”


© Copyright 2018 C. Avina. All rights reserved.

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