The Big Fight

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Joe "The Crusher" Carling is set for the biggest fight of his career against the champion! Only there's something a little... off about the champ.

Submitted: May 22, 2015

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Submitted: May 22, 2015

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His heart was still pounding in his chest as Joe "The Crusher" Carling triumphantly returned to the locker room, the thunderous roar of the crowd flooding his ears.

He'd done it. He'd won. The great Leo Diamond lay unconscious on the mat as we speak. Now all that was left was for Joe to fight the champion. He sat down and breathed great huffing breaths, sweat shining over his 2% body fat torso as he tried to stop grinning like a lunatic.

He heard the subtle grind and click of the doorknob turning and looked across as his manager/trainer strolled in, his garish checkered jacket offset by his red framed sunglasses and somewhat pudgy facial features.
He was trying to grow a beard.
He was not succeeding in growing a beard.

Nevertheless, Tony Pugliani was one of the biggest names in boxing and having him in his corner both literally and figuratively gave Joe the confidence he needed to win even the toughest of fights. Ever since Joe's dad had walked out on him when he was only 6, Tony had been like a father to Joe. Which was fortunate, since Tony's intimate relations with Joe's mother had been one of the reasons his dad had left to begin with.

"You did good today, Joe" Tony mumbled through the unneccesarily large cuban he had in his mouth. Cigars were Tony's only vice, he always said while sipping some 30 year old scotch in a strip bar.

"Thanks Tony" Joe replied, holding a glove up in a show of respect.

"But you can't get complacent! Next stop; title bout!" Tony struck a match and held it to the cigar as he delicately tried to suckle smoke from it.

"I'm ready, Tony. Only I, uhh, I don't know much about the guy" Joe confessed, looking somewhat ashamed as Tony shook his head. His jowls wobbled as he did.

"Ahh, Joey-boy, you got this far but you never seen the champ? What am I gonna do with you, kid? Huh?" Tony playfully slapped Joe's cheek before he pulled out the ancient TV and VCR combo that they always used.

Rummaging in his coat, he produced a tape titled, "Footage of the Champ". Joe sometimes wondered why they never got a new TV and DVD player but then it was probably selfish to expect any of the money Tony made to go towards it. He was already struggling to make payments on the mansion and his three cars, he didn't need any more stress on his wallet.
The tape slotted in with a plastic clunk and Joe shuffled a little to one side so Tony could collapse down next to him, already Tony's large frame was competing with Joe's in terms of sweat.

The video started with slightly grainy footage of the champ in his hometown, standing knee deep in a natural stream. He was intimidating, that much was for sure. He looked to be a good few inches over 6 feet tall and had a pretty impressive gut. His hair was a rich chestnut brown and Joe noted disheartingly that his chest hair was even more impressive than Joe's.

Joe was pretty proud of his chest hair, it really hurt his ego seeing the champ had more of it.

After a few minutes of standing, body poised and alert, the champ swung his left in a wide hook and swatted a salmon out of the stream, sending it careening onto the river bank. The champ swung his enormous frame around and marched purposefully back to shore, slogging through the water as he went with powerful strides.

It was obvious now as the camera panned out that the champ lived in the woods. A log cabin stood proud behind him as he plodded over to stand in front of a hanging sand bag. The metronome swing of the bag was aided by a few idle passes from the champ's ungloved left while he ate the salmon (raw! clearly, he wasn't a man who messed around). After he'd finished, he started hitting it for real.

The first thing Joe noticed, the champ didn't favour the jab. Most boxers did, it was your bread and butter having a 1-2 combo. But he seemed intent on fighting like a true heavyweight. Wide hooks, uppercuts, even enormous haymakers rained down with pummeling force onto the sandbag. One bodyblow hit hard enough to split the entire bag and Joe squirmed uncomfortably in his seat.

The champ turned to the camera, breathing a little heavily from his workout, and held up a thumb. He was giving the viewer a thumbs up.

Joe liked to check out his opponents facial features when he saw these videos. From a tactical point of view it helped to see where they'd been injured in the past as it'd effect how they defended in the future. And if they were doing a taunt at the end of the video, it was important to know if it was one of confidence or arrogance. If you were lucky, maybe it was even ignorance.

Emotions were usually pretty easy to guess when you saw a guy's eyes; but Joe couldn't quite fathom what was going on in the champ's head.

He was impossible to read! He could see it in his big brown eyes that the champ wasn't being confident, nor was he arrogant. Ignorant maybe, but even that he wasn't sure, the eyes seemed to show no sign of sentient thought, they were purely impassive. Whatever was going on in there wasn't something you could just see.

His nose wasn't broken so he probably had a good defence, but his nose was on the end of a snout so that made it hard to gauge. He couldn't even see if he was missing any teeth since they only appeared when he was tearing the scales off the salmon.

In fact, come to think of it... those fingers looked awfully big and black. And sharp. Kinda like claws, in fact. Joe's train of thought was derailed when the champ gave a bestial roar and barreled at the camera on all fours. Suddenly, the footage came to an end.

"Now, I know yous may be having some doubts..." Tony started as he ejected the tape with one pudgy ring clad finger. Joe didn't look scared though. He looked more thoughtful.

"Tony... I know I ain't the smartest fighter in the world-"

"Sad but true, Joey boy. You might end up the greatest but you ain't never gonna be the smartest." Tony sighed, tamping his cigar as he said it

"-I know, but I don't think I can fight the champ, Tony" Joe confessed

"Joey, Joey, Joey. I thought you wanted to be the best in the world! Why you suddenly got cold feet, kid? What's so special about this guy"

"Well, Tony, I think he's a bear"

"A bear?" Tony repeated, as he cast his mind back and remembered the content of the tape "Why you think he's a bear, Joe?"

"Well, it's his brown fur and his big claws. And his snout. Generally just all the ursine qualities he seems to display" While Tony took a second to recover from the sudden revelation of 'ursine' being in Joe's vocabulary, he finally managed to smooth his hair down and work on his response.

"Alright, alright, I admit he might look a little-"

"And the bestial roar he gave at the end," Joe added "I was particularly worried about the bestial roar he gave as he charged the camera."

"-look and SOUND, like a bear, but that don't mean he is one, Joe."

"Tony, I need you to be straight with me: Is the champ a kodiak bear?"

"No. I can assure you with absolute certainty the champ is not a kodiak bear."

"You can?"

"Yes, he is not a kodiak bear. I say that with absolute certainty!"

"Is that because he's a grizzly?"

"Why are you so hung up on this Joe?" Tony flusterered, spraying ash everywhere as he waved his cigar round. "You sure you ain't just turning chicken?"

"I ain't a chicken, Tony, I just don't think I can win a boxing match with a fuckin' bear!"

"Ahhh, Joe, you just gotta believe in yourself-"

"Why is the bear even boxing? Hell, how does it even know what boxing is? How'd it get to be world champion when it's quite clearly a 600 pound land mammal with only a minimal understanding of human civilisation?"

"Look, Joe... you got two choices here." Tony dabbed his fore-head with a rag while he spoke, sauntering towards the door. "Either you back down, be the guy who never tried even though the bookies are giving you 3-1, which frankly are the best odds you've ever got. Or you fight and prove that your the best boxer in the country by beating that bear senseless" glancing at Joe with a glint of triumph in his eye.

"You admit he's a bear then?" Joe asked

"You fighting or what!?" Tony bellowed. Joe looked briefly conflicted, rubbing the thumbs of his gloves together, before finally nodding. He'd fight the bear. He'd come all this way to be the champ, he wasn't gonna stop just because he was a feral predator trapped in a confusing square of stretchy ropes and bright lights. As the door swung shut behind Tony, Joe strolled over to the showers. The sweat covering him almost dry now, but he'd like to get cleaned up before he went home.
He'd better get back to training. He had a lot of work to do.


--


Joe was feeling the pressure now, as he nervously paced around his locker room. Tony had been gone for a few minutes, something about making sure he had the best intro music possible. Joe was still worried about the weigh-in, it kept bouncing around his mind as he remembered what had happened.

His anxious reverie was interrupted as Tony waddled through the door with an enormous grin on his face. He patted Joe on the shoulder and winked conspiratorially to his prize fighter.

"How you feeling, Joey-boy? You ready to do this?"

"I dunno, Tony..." Joe mumbled as he rubbed the thumbs of his gloves together

"Whadda ya mean 'you dunno', what's bothering you kid?"

"The weigh-in's what's bothering me" Joe sighed

"Ahhh, Joey-boy, you can't let the champ get in your head. He's a master of head games!" Tony said, his voice as filled with empathy as he could muster

"He's not though, is he Tony? He's a bear. He don't even know how to play head games, he just sat there eating honey and mauled the guy who was meant to announce his weight"

"Alright, so maybe he's a few pounds heavier than you, this fights been on the cards for weeks-"

"Tony he weighs 600 pounds, I only weigh 220."

"Look kid, Heavyweight championship got no weight limit, you knew this going in"

"Yeah, but I think there's gotta be a rule about species" Joe's passionate plea was cut short by the arrival of a headset wearing girl who seemed to be listening intently to a voice in her ear.

"Mr Carling, your entrance is in 2 minutes, if you could please start walking" before anyone could reply the girl was gone and had resumed talking to whoever was on the other end with barely a glance.

Joe and Tony sat for a while in silence.

"Tony?" Joe whispered "If I die... will you take care of my kids?"

"Not a chance in hell" Tony replied, perhaps the first honest answer he'd ever given.

"OK... I guess I'm gonna go fight the bear"

Joe could hear the roar of the crowd as he entered, the staccato flash of cameras snapping pictures that he gloomily hoped would look good in his obituary. His  gown shimmered in sky blue as he mounted the blue corner and Tony looked around cheerily

"Do you like your music?"

"Err, not really, Tony."

"What? What's wrong with it?"

"Bohemian Rhapsody don't really set the image I'd like for my title bout" Joe admitted sheepishly, Tony looked vaguely hurt but knew better than to argue right now. He'd just hold onto it until Joe was in the hospital.

There was a rumble from the far side as the heavy gait of Joe's ursine advesary thundered towards the ring. In the flesh he still looked terrifying, even if he wasn't that sure on his feet. The red boxing gloves duct-taped to his wrists didn't look very well padded to Joe. He was sure he could see the tip of a claw poking through one of them.

The champ didn't have a robe like Joe did. He also didn't have shorts. Or boots.

It was pretty much just the gloves, the rest was 100% bear.

Joe listened over the din of the audience and very faintly heard the champ's theme music. It seemed his manager had opted for 'bear neccessities' from Jungle Book. The champ sidled up to the ring and after a brief bellow, hauled himself into the ring and sat awkwardly in the red corner.

"Heh, look at 'im, acting all smug" Tony sneered

"Is he though?" Joe asked, while the Champ idly chewed at his gloves and roared in complaint when his manager tried to make him stop.

The referee glided into the middle of the ring and produced a microphone with the same flair and grace usually reserved for the ballet.

"Ladies AND Geeeeeeentlemen... tonight's bout is for the World Heavyweight Championship! In the blue corner, from New York City and weighing 220 pounds, Jooooooooe CARLING!"

The crowd's cheers were quieter than usual.

"And in the RED Corner, from Bigtree, Alaska and weighing 602 pounds-"

"Oh he gained some weight" Joe quietly mumbled to himself

"-The Heavyweight champion of the World! TEDDY GRYLLS!"

The crowd was far more enthusiastic now. The champ's ears pricked up and he lumbered up to his feet. The closest approximation to a smile his snout could muster was on his face as he dawdled up to the centre of the ring.

Joe followed suite and stood, amidst the glare of the lights, facing down the champ. Just like he'd always dreamed. Except for the bear part.

The referee sniffed and held both fighters by the shoulder. He looked deadly serious at both of them.

"I want a good clean fight, is that clear? I will accept nothing against the rules!"

Joe wanted to ask what the rules said about being a goddamn bear but didn't have the chance as the champ shoved the referee in the face sending him cartwheeling out of the ring.

More for his own benefit than the bear's, Joe touched gloves with the champ and immediately bunkered down with his guard up.

The champ roared and swung wildly with his left paw. Joe swerved to his right and threw a right hook into the champ's face. The champ rolled as it hit and barked a complaint before squaring up again and swung his right. Joe ducked as the blow swung past his head but was caught unawares by the champ's attempt at an uppercut smacking into his chin. As the blow forced Joe into the air, he managed an admirable backflip and landed on his feet again.

There was a moment where everyone, including Joe, was unsure what had just happened and the bear happily clapped it's paws at the funny leaping man.

Surprised he'd survived this far, Joe found himself throwing jabs that seemed to annoy the champ more than anything. His survival instinct had apparently already decided to start making it's way to the afterlife as Joe slipped under the bear's guard and popped him one in the jaw. The bear yowled in discomfort and swatted down again but Joe was too quick!

His feet danced as he dodged the swipe, and he was back with a flurry of blows, a swift pummelling of strikes to the bear's stomach. Body shot after body shot crashed into the grizzly champion's belly and culminated with a big sweeping bear hook.

But Joe was ready. He'd been a boxer since he was a little kid and there was one punch he'd always dreamed he could use in his most important bout. His legs shifted, his head slipped the hook and his right came looping over the bear's arm.

A cross-counter! It landed square, Joe's body weight and the champ's multiplied to knock the enormous animal down to the mat. The crowd was stunned into silence as the referee dragged his bleeding nose back to ringside to count. Joe had done it! He'd scored a down!

The champ wasn't staying down for long as the bear whined and ambled up to his feet but Joe was confident now. He could do this! He could win!

--

 

The steady beep of the echo-cardiogram was the only way the pile of broken bones that was Joe could tell it was still alive. It would be easier to say what parts of his body weren't in a cast and let me tell you, that right knee was loving the oxygen it was getting. His face felt swollen but he got the impression it had probably been worse before. Mostly because the bandages on his head felt a little loose now.

He heard the slide of a door and tried to turn his head to see who had entered and was made aware he had whiplash too. Well, whiplash or a broken spine. It was probably a coin toss which. The man he saw was a slightly shame-faced Tony as he nervously kneaded his hat in his hands

"How you feeling Joey-boy?" Tony asked softly.

"I been better, Tony. I been better" Joe rasped, a sigh escaping his body. Followed by a wince as the sigh hit his broken ribs.

"Well, Joey-boy, I got good news and I got bad news."

"Whatsa bad news?" Joe slurred, his face deciding to go numb in protest of how much trauma it had been through.

"Bad news... is you won't be able to train again for a couple months. And I also sold your car to cover some gambling losses."

"Awww, not Bessie" Joe moaned, remembering his beloved skoda.

"I know... but I have good news too" Tony reminded him, eager not to dwell on the selling of the car.

"What's the good news?" Joe asked, almost hesitant to hear it.

"You're the World Champ, kid!" Tony exploded "HA! Had you going with the whole sad act, it was all a ruse!"

"Really?" Joe beamed "Even the stuff about Bessie?"

"Err, no, that was real. But Joe! You're the World Champ, kid!" Tony repeated, expertly deploying diversion tactics.

"But, I don't understand... the Champ beat me black and blue. Then red. Then some other colours I didn't know existed but now do because he beat me them"

"Well, let's just say that a certain 'illegal steroid' was found in the Champ's food" Tony smarmed "Teddy Grylls has a lifetime ban from the sport"

"But why were they giving it steroids, that makes no sense, he's already a goddamn bear..." Joe mumbled.

"Now, Joey-boy, let's not worry your pretty little head about who planted what and where or who may have forgotten which fighter he bet on when he made that particular choice; what matters is, you're the Champ!"

"I'm the champ..." Joe murmured dreamily to himself. He'd finally done it. He was the champion of the world...

"That's right! And you gotta hurry up and get better, because there is a que of about 47 people outside who all want a shot at the title" Tony in a rare show of affection kissed Joe's forehead as he got up to leave.

"Wait, what? 47 guys?" Joe whined, panic seeping in and sending his ECG skyrocketting.

"Of course! 47 guys all qued up down the hallway to fight you. What, you thought after two parts and 3,000 words there wouldn't be a Punch Line?"


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