A/N Special thanks to my friend TellMeTheTruth, she fixed the awkward sections and gave me the encouragement needed to share this with you.
All my boxing knowledge comes from Wikipedia, my apologies if I get any terminology wrong.
Finally, I don't own anything Twilight related.
Chapter 1: Never Let Your Guard Down
"Inactivity is the biggest sin in boxing." ~Sugar Ray Leonard
I was always amazed at the amount of people that show up to Amateur Fight Night. I knew there were some well known names fighting on the night's card; mine was not one of them. No, they were here to see the big guys; the guys hoping to turn pro, the ones who managed to get blood or an unconscious body on the ring mat. My fight would be the one when everyone made a mad rush outside for a cigarette, in fact I would be lucky if that was what happened. Usually, there wasn't even much of a crowd during my fights. That was the problem with being in a lighter weight class. Fight card line ups started with the lightest and ended with the heaviest. So of course, that meant my fights were usually fairly early.
The large crowd already milling about the ring was unusual so early in the evening. "Emmett, are there sponsors here tonight that I don't know about?" I asked as we worked our way around a cluster of men and headed toward the sectioned off fighters area.
"What? No, not that Jimmy told me," Emmett replied as he quickly searched through the immediate area to see if he could spot any familiar faces.
"I wonder why it's already this full and the first match isn't even set to start for another 30 minutes?" I asked what we are both wondering.
"Not sure, you go get ready and I'll see if I can find Jimmy, he'll know." I watched as Emmett's large and bulky frame had no problem moving though the crowd. Continuing my way to the dressing area, I looked around trying to spot my opponent for the night's match. It didn't take me very long to search out Lauren Mallory or as she preferred to call herself "The Wall". How someone could be considered a wall when your weight class was Featherweight was beyond me. But, I'd reserve judgement for after our match. Lauren noticed me and made brief eye contact before returning her attention back to lacing up her boots.
Finding an unoccupied bench, I pulled out my ipod and began my pre-match routine. I always got dressed in the same order: shorts, sports bra, tank top, socks, boots; all the same color, tonight was black. It was while pulling my long hair into a low ponytail that Emmett returned. He must have been waiting for me to get through my routine because as soon as my hair was pulled back, he pulled one of my ear buds out.
"Hey, I'm in the zone, you don't interrupt me while I'm in the zone!"
Emmett rolled his eyes at my attempt to admonish him. "I found Jimmy, he's out schmoozing with some guy looking for a new coach. Apparently this guy is a pro and has sponsors but had a falling out with his last coach. Jimmy invited him tonight to show off his fighters in an attempt to sway his decision to hire him. "
"Really, why would he want Jimmy?" I asked, suddenly suspicious.
"Well, Jimmy was a great fighter. Maybe this guy is looking for someone who has done well in his past?"
I could tell Emmett was grasping at straws because we both knew Jimmy's professional career didn't end because he chose to retire. James "Jimmy" Kellington was suspended from professional boxing after plaster was found in his hand wraps. He had fought the decision made by the Boxing Commission on the basis that he didn't do his hand wraps but they still found him guilty and he was suspended for a year. After that year was over, Jimmy couldn't find anyone willing to coach him so he moved on and opened his own gym and eventually started coaching again.
"Who is this guy? I mean, if he has sponsors, surely he could get any coach he wants, right?"
"He goes by The Major. That's all I know. Jimmy didn't even introduce us when I let him know we were here." Hearing this pissed me off. I was usually a fairly calm individual, which was quite the anomaly for a boxer.
"'The Major', was he in the army? Where does that leave us? Who's gonna be in my corner if Jimmy is busy wining and dining this Major?" I was quickly getting wound up and started pacing the small area in front of my bench, the other women in the dressing area beginning to stare.
"Calm down there killer. Don't worry about Jimmy, I'll be in your corner like always and Carlisle is here too." Emmett's tone was soothing and I willed myself to appear calm.
"Okay so I have a Cutman and an Assistant Coach turned Coach, fine. We can deal. But know that I'm pissed. If this Major guy decides to go with Jimmy, both of us will be screwed for a coach. It's hard enough to be a girl in boxing let alone become second best to some guy who is already pro and already has sponsors. Neither of us have that, hell, you aren't even fighting tonight!" My voice was rapidly rising in volume and people were back to watching my little meltdown with the fascination that rivalled watching an accident in slow motion.
From the corner of my eye I noticed Lauren not even bothering to hold back a smirk. She thought that because my focus had been broken I'd be an easy win. She was delusional if she actually thought I'd let this problem affect me in the ring. Wait, what if I did let it affect me in the ring? Emmett said Jimmy was using his fighters as a way to show off his coaching abilities.
"I refuse to be a pawn in Jimmy's courtship with this guy, Emmett."
"Bella, what are you planning? I know that look on your face, nothing good ever comes from that look." He ran a meaty hand through his dark curly hair, clearly not happy with the situation but unsure what to do about it. "Look, lets just finish getting you ready alright? Things have already started out there and we still need to get the rest of your gear on and you still need to do your warm up. We'll worry about Jimmy later, okay?"
I knew that if I let Emmett in on my plan, he'd be pissed at me and I couldn't lose two coaches in the same night. Playing off his concerns, I nodded my head and passed him my handwraps.
"Sure, Em. We'll take care of this later. Help me wrap my hands? I never get them tight enough." His smile was warm but I could still see the concern in his eyes. I tried to keep my focus on the him as he wrapped my hands and checked the laces on my boots. He finally looked convinced I wasn't planning anything as he tied up my gloves.
"All set, go stretch out and get your legs warmed up, I think we still have one more match before yours. I'm going to go let Carlisle know we'll be without Jimmy tonight."
I nodded my head to him as he put my earbuds back into my ears and turned my ipod back on for me. Music had always been an important part of my routine. Even when just working out, I listened to music. It made me feel powerful and I used that to my advantage. Tonight would be no different, in fact it seemed to fuel my anger even more. It didn't help my cause that AFI was currently playing. The heavy bass, strong drum beats and angry lyrics fed my desire to get retribution for Jimmy's apparent desertion of both Emmett and I.
A plan was slowly forming in my mind and I smiled at the destruction it would cause. I didn't like throwing fights. I needed to keep reminding myself that Emmett and I hade worked too hard for some guy to just waltz right in and take our place in Jimmy's line up of top fighters. I could not afford to win this match no matter how badly I wanted to beat on Lauren for the smugness still radiating off her. I'd have to save that for the rematch I would demand when the match was over. The only thing comforting me was the fact that tonight's match didn't count toward my standings, I couldn't afford to have a loss on my record when the qualification for the women's Olympic team was so tight.
Emmett and Carlisle made their way over to me as I finished my warm up. I'd broken a slight sweat and I was pleased that my match had been called. I paid no attention to any of the crowd of men that jeered and whistled at us as we walked up to the ring. Lauren and I had both entered the ring and I began a light bounce from one foot to the other, keeping my legs warm and moving. Emmett was talking to me, but I didn't hear him, my focus was studying The Wall and her movements.
The usual announcements of each fighter's name and record must have been made because I heard the ding of the bell and The Wall had started stalking toward me. I could tell she was not quick on her feet which would normally be an advantage for me, tonight it would be a disadvantage. I'd need to go shot for shot with her and would watch to see if she developed a pattern to her punches.
The first three minute round was discouraging. This girl could not hit me to save her soul. I easily dodged her jabs and blocked her cross punches. I returned each of her throws with one of my own landing it and gaining a point each time. We continued to move around the ring. I found myself circling Lauren, yet another aspect of her fight strategy that would have worked to my advantage had I not decided to let her win. Why was she making this harder on me?
She landed a heavy handed body shot to my left ribcage and I backed off a bit, continuing my circling as I caught my breath. I heard Emmett yelling for me to return the hit and attacked with a hard uppercut, snapping her head upwards. Her face was no longer guarded by her hand and my instincts were telling me to go in for the knock out but I followed up instead with a quick body shot just as the bell was ringing.
"What was that last hit? You could have had her just now!" Emmett barked at me from my left as Carlisle squeezed water into my mouth. I spat it out and ignored the question.
"How's your side?" Carlisle asked, concerned.
"Fine, she just knocked out my breath a bit is all." I said as I turned my head toward him so he could check my face for the blood we both knew wouldn't be there. Lauren had yet to land a shot to my head.
The bell rang for the second round and I was anticipating much of the same dance as the last round. The Wall surprised me when she advanced a little quicker and with a bit more aggression. I was pleased, she was actually going to put in an effort to win. After a couple more hit for hit circles around the ring, I could tell she was getting tired. My blood boiling in anger; I landed a quick jab cross combo knocking her back against the ropes. The ref held me back for a moment to see if Lauren would stand without the aid of the ropes.
She appeared slightly dazed but the ref let her continue, I was relieved. I backed off a bit and let her come to me. Emmett was yelling for me to finish her off but I ignored him. My plan had to work, I let her get in a jab to the head and a body shot before I returned one to her body. She was breathing heavy. But, I had finally noticed her pattern of attack, two body shots, or attempts, and then a head shot. We finished the second round with another landed body shot in The Wall's favour and I smiled as I returned to my corner.
"Bella, what is your problem? Why do you seem to be just dancing around and slipping through her reach?" Emmett knew me too well. He could see that I was hardly putting in an effort for the last two rounds. "If you keep up at this pace you'll win by decision, you have enough points to just coast through this round, do you want that?"
"No, I don't want that Emmett," I want to lose, I finished to myself. Again, Carlisle was pouring water into my mouth and this time I swallowed it instead of spiting it out. I needed the moisture in my mouth to make Lauren's knock out punch look real when it sprayed out of my mouth from the blow.
The bell for the final round dings somewhere behind me. Lauren and I were both up and as predictable as ever, she stalked toward me with a little bit more gusto. I let her land her first body shot and returned one of my own. She swung for a jab but we were too far apart and missed. I closed in the distance between us and hit her in the ribs again. That angered her, she finally realized I'd been holding back on her. I gave her back a smirk and watched as she hit me with another body shot and saw her next head shot would be an uppercut. I let my guard hand down a little to give her room to hit my jaw just right.
As soon as my left arm lowered I heard Emmett call out, "Bella, get your guard hand up!" Before he had finished yelling, Lauren connected her uppercut and I learned why she was called The Wall. My head snapped back and she must have landed another head shot because the darkness swallowed me.
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