arch boy fights tone



It took a year, but it was worth it.

A year ago, I followed Arch Dobbs back to his gym, agreed to fight the wild card bout against Rusty's Gym, almost got my head taken off by a light heavyweight named Andrew Jakes, heard Arch say his ass was mine if I could win the bout, knocked Jakes out, had Arch back out of his offer, beat him up until I realized he actually liked it, knocked him out, and decided to leave his ass alone because his little mind games spoiled the mood.

Well, that about sums up that little adventure.

I decided to play a game of my own. If my path crossed Arch's again while we were both out running, then I'd go back to his gym and close the deal this time. I figured since that's how it started, that's how it should start over. I also figured it wouldn't take long for our paths to cross a second time. I mean, depending on the day, my own roadwork only takes about five different routes. How long could it take? The answer--almost a year.

"You should just go and get it over with, Stone," my friend Manny told me sometime in June or so. "You think too much."

It's true, I guess. I could've gone any day. But I wanted it this way. To make the waiting feel like it had a sense of purpose, I put up a heavybag in my basement and started training myself daily. Manny helped a little. He was in the amateurs for almost two years, just until he got hurt seriously enough to end up in Mercy General Hospital. He's in the pre-med program at State now. He showed me some combinations, corrected my style a little, tweaked my footwork. And he gave me my training mantra: "Beat his ass and take his ass."

Inspirational, huh?

Then the weather cooled off, and the t-shirts and bare chests of summer gave way to sweatshirts and running jackets. One day I went on my usual Monday route, then decided to add a few extra blocks by turning left instead of right. And there he was, just across the street, his upper body concealed in a hooded sweatshirt, his legs bare beneath gym shorts. The line of his hamstrings caught my eye, and I stopped at the intersection and stared. Lucky for me, Manny was running with me. I didn't have to explain it. He knew.

"So you gonna follow him or not?"

Not even a question. We were only a few blocks from the gym anyway. To get there, though, Arch had to go past me. As he did, Manny and me matched his pace stride for stride. When we reached the gym, Arch held the door open and waved us in. Too easy? Perhaps.

When we got inside, the early birds were leaving, off to their 9-to-5 lives. And that left me, Manny, Arch, a few strays suffering from late night jobs or unemployment, and Phil Martin, Arch's cornerman. I remembered him right away, and I could tell he remembered me. He didn't say anything--he was never much of a talker--but he got this tough look on his face. Actually, I got the impression he was checking Manny out, but I was probably wrong about that. At that moment, I was focused on Arch, waiting for him to say...well, who knows what, but I didn't think he'd just offer up his ass on the spot.

Instead, he played it cool. "Welcome back. Almost a year, right?"

I nodded, trying to match cool for cool.

"You plan on picking up where you left off?"

"Something like that."

He looked me over. "You put on some weight? Or is that the sweats?" I pulled off the sweatshirt and stood there bare-chested. That's never a problem in Arch's gym--he keeps the place warm. I'm almost six feet tall, and I've been a pretty steady 170-175 pounds since high school. I guess my training had paid off, even though I hadn't really noticed it happening--thicker through the shoulders, mostly, maybe a little leaner overall. Arch pulled off the hooded sweatshirt and revealed the same stunning torso I remembered--tight muscle all around, wide shoulders, a sweep to the lats that made me weak in the knees. He's shorter than me by a few inches, and I'd guess him at about 150-155 pounds. He pointed to Manny. "Who's he?"

"A friend."

Manny chimed in. "I'm here so he doesn't do anything stupid like agreeing to fight a heavyweight he never met before."

Phil Martin laughed, one of those single grunt laughs meant to dismiss you. Since he hadn't been outside, Phil was already in a tight A-shirt and jeans, with just enough sweat dampening the shirt to reveal a fairly impressive six-pack of abs. I'd write him off because of the attitude, but Manny might have been distracted. Arch just smiled and said, "Sorry about that. You won, though."

I decide to put my cards on the table. "But I didn't get what I won."

"So that's why you waited a year to collect?"

He had me there. So much for cool.

"Tell you what. Go three rounds with me. If you last three rounds, my ass is yours, no games this time. How's that for fair?" I saw his eyes drift down to check out my package. He remembered me just fine...most guys who get to see all I have to offer don't usually forget the sight. So I nodded, and we geared up in one of the rings. The few guys still in the gym realized what was about to happen, and they started to gather around us.

Before the fight, Manny gave me some advice. "Don't believe anything he does in this round. He's testing you, finding out how you fight. If he shows you the left, then you expect a right. Lean back to dodge the punch, then use the momentum of the bounceback to pump up your right. Got it?" I nodded. "Watch for the left, lean back, then fire the right. You'll get two, maybe three shots at that, no more. He's sharp, he'll figure it out."

Round one.

At first, I used my height and reach to stay just out of range, flicking out a jab or two now and then. I guess Arch was expecting to see the fight I'd given Andrew Jakes, but I knew better than that now. I waited for him to move in. It didn't take long. He jumped in with a couple of hooks to the body, and I countered with a straight left to the chin. He pulled back a step, cranking up a polo punch with his left. I watched for it, and sure enough he fired a right cross. I leaned back, just beyond his reach. I could feel the ropes behind me, so I bounced off them, pivoted to my left, and landed my own right cross. He looked a little surprised, so I threw a left-right combination and slipped past him to the center of the ring. He gave me a look that said, "Not bad." Then he waded in again, pulling in tight so he could work my gut. Fine with me. After every few shots of his, I'd try to counter with a head shot, but not many of them landed. Once we got into this rhythm, he fired a couple of lefts to my head, hooks to the temple area. I ducked one and took another. I got a little dizzy, but then I remembered Manny's advice. I saw him load up his left, a little less obvious this time. I watched for the right, slipped under it this time, and brought a right uppercut back up with me. Not exactly Manny's directions, but with the same result. This time, though, Arch wrestled me against the ropes and fired his own uppercuts, left and right. I felt my legs turning to rubber just as the bell rang to end the round.

Next thing I knew, Manny had me back in the corner. "OK, he knows what you're doing. But he'll give you the next round...well, most of it. He'll let you think you're winning. Take the bait for the first half of the round. Hurt him if you can. You're heavier than he is, so let him feel it. At some point, he'll start fighting back, and it won't be subtle--you'll know. When that happens, get on the outside and stay there. Keep your left in his face. Got it?"

"How do you know what he's gonna do?"

"I know, OK? You got it?"

The bell rang. Round two.

Arch came out with his guard down, his right pulled back to telegraph a wild punch. I ducked it when it came, then threw a right uppercut to the jaw, followed that with a left cross and a right hook--all of it landed. So I kept throwing punches to the head--straight shots, crosses, hooks, uppercuts--and he took it all, no signs of any real damage. The guy was hard as marble. My fists started aching. So I switched to body work, punch after punch pushing him back into a corner. I felt myself getting lost in the rhythm of it, thump after thump after thump, and then WHAM! He caught me full in the face with one punch, then two more. Next thing I knew I was on the canvas. The gymrats were cheering, a couple of them laughing. OK, time to stay on the outside. I made it to my feet by the eight count. Arch came in steady now, but I kept distance between us with my left jab. Before long, just as my shoulder muscles began to burn with the effort, the bell rang.

And you know Manny had a new game plan ready. "Now he's through playing with you. He's gonna come at you with both guns blazing. How's your head?"


"Keep away as long as you can. Tie him up on the inside. You might be able to hold on until the end of the round. I don't think he expected you to last this long."

"Wait--you think I'm losing?"

"He didn't say you had to win. You just have to make it to the end of the round. He'll punch fast and hard if you don't tie him up."

"How do you know all this?"

"Doesn't matter."

"It does to me."

The bell rang. Round three.

Almost before I got to my feet, Arch was on top of me, throwing punch after punch to my gut to force me back into my corner. I threw a left hook and slipped past him to the center of the ring. I tried to maintain distance, but he kept one step ahead of everything I tried to do, closing off any exit. When I tried to slip past him again, he caught me with a left hook that bounced me back into the ropes, and then he kept me there by battering my temples with hard shots. This time I didn't feel my legs giving. I just dropped to the canvas. The gymrats were going nuts again. I looked up and caught Phil Martin smiling. Then I started hearing my training mantra: "Beat his ass and take his ass." I made the count--barely--and met Arch in the middle of the ring. We started trading punches toe-to-toe. My right, his right, my left, his left, my uppercut, his uppercut. In the middle of it, I couldn't even hear the gymrats anymore, just the thud of our gloves against our bodies. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! Finally, the bell rang to end the round and the fight.

We stood there, inches from each other, drenched in sweat, our faces and bodies reddened from the pounding, our breathing coming in longer and longer gulps. I'd made it. He held out a glove, and we shook hands awkwardly. The gymrats applauded.

Arch pulled in tight. "My office. Let's go." He stopped in his corner long enough to have Phil take off the gloves, then he ducked through the ropes and went back to his office. No mind games, as promised.

Suddenly Manny was at my shoulder. "Don't tell me you're gonna let him get away twice?"

"No, he's giving it up. Hang around for a while, OK?" Manny took my gloves off and unwrapped my hands. "So are you ever gonna tell me how you knew how to fight him?"

Manny just smiled. "You really wanna stop and talk about that now?"

He had a point.

When I opened the office door, Arch was sitting behind his desk, facing me, his torso still bare. "Close the door," he I did. He stepped out from behind the desk, his clothes gone except for his jock. In a second, my trunks and jock were on the floor. Arch draped himself face down across the desk and popped that bubble butt up. Just as before, a slight gleam showed me that he'd already lubed up.

In my head, I could still hear my training mantra: "Beat his ass and take his ass." So I did, slowly at first, just to be sure he could handle the length. He gasped a couple of times, then let out a hiss as I pushed further and further into him. Then, after I felt him relaxing into it, I pushed harder and harder until each thrust had the force of a punch. I swear we started moving the furniture! At first, Arch groaned quietly, almost a whimper, but then he started grunting and gasping with each thrust. He pushed himself off the table, forcing me deeper into him. I supported him with one arm around that taut stomach and the other clamped around his hips. He reached back with one hand and grabbed my hair. In no time, we both came, and we collapsed onto the desk, me on top of him. I ran my hands over those muscles, rubbed his abs and pecs, nuzzled his neck. Arch reached back and groped my ass. So worth the wait.

"Let me up. I gotta run the gym." I stood up, then he did. He picked up our clothes and we started dressing. "One thing I wanna know, though. How do you know Manny Arguilla?"

"Just a friend. Why?"

"Met him in the amateurs once. One of the toughest fights I ever won. Almost like he read my mind or something. Hit like a bull. I heard he ended up in the hospital after, then he dropped out of the game, right off the radar. Didn't really recognize him until after the fight today. Deja vu, huh?"


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