Parking Lot Fighters Story

[This story includes characters from "GYM vs GYM: Paying the Bet, Part One," but you don't have to read that in order to appreciate this story. Read on!]

Since the second match against Arch's gym, Mix Jeffries had listened to Chuck Henderson's abuse on a daily basis. The jerk had barely won his fight on points, but Chuck bragged as if he'd knocked the guy out. Mix had lost, and Chuck rubbed that in every chance he got. Mix didn't think he'd done that badly--after all, he'd only been training for two months before the match. Chuck had been one of Rusty's regular middleweights, one who'd been training for several years. In Mix's mind, Chuck should've done better. But Mix kept his mouth shut.

And Mix trained.

At the time of the match, Mix had barely made the limit for welterweights. He'd turned 18 two weeks after the match. He decided to move up a class or two, depending on how his body responded to a new training regimen of weight lifting and speed bag work. Chuck hadn't noticed the change, but Mix had gained 8 pounds, all in his chest, shoulders and upper arms. At 155, that put him on the low end of middleweight...Chuck's weight class.

Two weeks before the third match, Rusty had approached Mix to ask if he wanted the middleweight bout. By chance, Chuck had heard Rusty's invitation, so he followed Mix out of the gym that night. "You stole my fight," Chuck called out. Mix kept moving, trying to get to the parking lot and, with any luck, drive home without any trouble. Chuck picked up his pace until he matched Mix stride for stride. "You heard me, asshole."

Mix had made it to his car, a black VW, but he decided not to get in. No point now, not while Chuck didn't intend to let him go without settling this. "Look," Mix said. "Complain to Rusty, ok? He asked me, I didn't ask him."

"Don't lie to me, bitch." Chuck pushed Mix back against the VW. "He picks you, he must wanna lose. No way he's putting a welterweight into a middleweight bout." He pushed Mix again, open palms smacking against Mix's pecs. That's the moment Chuck noticed the change in Mix's body. "What the hell?"

"I made middleweight yesterday, Chuck. I was too slow as a welterweight, so I thought I'd move up."

"That so?" Chuck stepped back slightly. At 20, Chuck hadn't worked to make weight for a long time. He'd just settled into about 162 and sweat off the excess shortly before the fight. Both men were about 5'8". Chuck sneered. "Maybe we ought test you out, huh? See if you can handle it?"

"Sure. I'll ask Rusty to let us spar tomorrow, ok?" Mix thought that might end it, but a closing offer would only sweeten the deal. "We'll spar, and whoever's best takes the match. That sound all right to you?"

Chuck's sneer remained. "Rusty didn't offer me the match, and he's got other middleweights. But we'll spar, all right. We'll go now." Chuck threw a left, but Mix dodged it easily. Mix moved away from the VW to give them some room. If it had to happen, Mix didn't want any broken windows on his car. Angered by missing the punch, Chuck charged after Mix and ran into Yuri Petrovich, the Russian heavyweight everybody called "Ox." More accurately, Chuck ran full steam into Ox's left hand, but almost no one could've got past that--not if Ox didn't want them to.

Nobody knew much about Ox. You couldn't tell his age just from looking at him. And you never saw him outside the gym, not if he wasn't boxing. Except for an occasional sparring partner, no one but Rusty and Bumps spoke to him. No surprise, considering that, at well over 300 pounds and slightly over 6 feet tall, Ox was the heaviest heavyweight in Rusty's gym. Those who sparred with him swore no punch could move him, much less hurt him. Those who sparred with him swore his punches could break bricks. Those who sparred with him did so rarely.

Neither Mix nor Chuck had realized Ox had followed them, and that added to the fear factor. With one hand against Chuck's chest, Ox reached out, grabbed Mix by the collar, and pulled them together. "You box. Not street fight. I am ref and judge. If you break rule, I will give penalty. Yes?"

With Ox's protection, Mix felt assured of a fair fight, so he nodded. Not to be outdone, Chuck nodded, too. Neither of them asked what kind of "penalty" Ox had in mind. Ox removed his shirt and then ordered them, "Now, strip to waist." They pulled off their shirts, raised their guards, and began to circle each other.

He had never had a street fight, so Mix's first punches were tentative. Without the ring, without gloves, he wasn't sure how much impact his bare knuckles could stand. On the other hand, Chuck seemed seasoned and eager. Mix threw a few light jabs, and Chuck barreled in, throwing hooks underneath Mix's jabs. Chuck nailed Mix's jaw with a solid left, snapping the kid's head back and exposing his abs. Chuck then pounded Mix's lower abs, almost to the belt line. Mix tried to clinch, but Chuck slipped an arm around the kid's neck. Mix pulled his hands up to protect his face and push off the punches. Just as Mix freed himself from Chuck's grasp and launched a right to Chuck's jaw, the Russian called out, "STOP! BREAK!"

The two fighters stepped back, went into defensive stances, and prepared to begin again. "Stop!" Ox stepped between them and placed one massive hand on each man's chest. "I give penalty." Ox turned to Chuck. "You--holding and hitting. Stand still. Hands at sides."

Chuck did as ordered. Ox's right fist shot out and smacked Chuck square on the chin. Although the punch was fairly light by Ox's standards, it sent Chuck reeling backwards five steps. He almost fell, but he managed to stay on his feet. He stood there, dazed.

"You." Ox turned to Mix. "Hitting on break. The same, please."

Scared to death, Mix lowered his hands and closed his eyes. Ox stood between the fighters so that Chuck couldn't see the punch. He gently jabbed a left against Mix's forehead. Prepared for the worst, Mix fell back a step or two before he realized the lack of impact. He opened his eyes. Ox smiled and winked. "Now...BOX!"

Evidently Chuck hadn't noticed the unequal treatment. He came after Mix with less abandon now, avoiding close in-fighting. Chuck threw a couple of straight lefts, then connected with a right hook. Mix had almost dodged the punch, so the impact was minimal. Mix tried to move in close again, but Chuck wouldn't allow it. Mix connected with a couple of hard hooks himself. Chuck repeated his combination--two straight lefts followed by a right hook. Mix avoided the punches entirely this time. Then he got an idea. He tossed off a couple of jabs, light ones, hoping Chuck would assume Mix had injured his hand. Chuck started the combination again--two lefts and a right hook. Mix dodged the punch, then moved in closer so that Chuck's elbow clipped his chin lightly.

"STOP!" Ox stepped between them again. He pointed to Chuck. "You--illegal elbow."

This time Chuck protested. "Accidental. It was accidental."

"You know a ref who accepts this excuse?"

Reluctantly, Chuck lowered his hands to his sides. Ox hit him harder this time, a medium-strength punch by Ox's standards. A straight right to Chuck's left eye. Chuck fell back against an SUV and them slid to the ground. Ox turned to face Mix, smiled and winked again. Chuck stayed on the pavement for a while, shaking off the effect of the punch.

Mix stood ready to continue. "You done?"

"No way." Chuck struggled to his feet, using the SUV for support. When Chuck faced him, Mix could see that the left eye would blacken and swell before morning.

They faced each other again, raised their guards, and began to circle each other slowly. Then Mix went on the offensive, flicking a couple of jabs then tossing a straight right to that left eye. As Chuck recovered after each blow, Mix followed with power shots to the jaw and chin. Soon, Chuck's lower lip was split and bleeding.

Chuck moved in close again, trying to stay against Mix's chest and work his gut. Mix pushed him off and fired a few shots to his gut. Chuck elbowed his way in again. They ended up with their heads on each other's shoulders, firing at each others ribs. Chuck's punches slowed, and Mix started targeting Chuck's kidneys. Chuck pulled into a clinch and said, "If I'm goin' down, it's gonna be worth it." He released Mix, bent down, and tossed his right fist from the pavement into Mix's crotch. Mix doubled over in pain and sank to his knees.

"STOP!" Ox yelled.

"Yeah, I know. Bring it on and get it over with." Chuck managed to stand up straight. Ox obliged with a hard left hook that slammed Chuck back against the SUV again. He hit the SUV with enough impact to create a crack in a window. His eyes rolled up into his head, and he slumped to the asphalt.

Ox checked the fallen man. "He will be fine. Bruised, yes, but fine. Until Rusty sees him. Rusty does not like his boxers to fight in street. You are fine?"

Mix got to his feet. The shock of the punch had created most of the impact, but his balls ached slightly. He nodded to Ox. The big Russian moved Mix's face into the light and examined him closely. "No cuts. No bruise. Rusty will not know. Do not tell him. Wear a t-shirt to gym and do not take it off. Ask to spar and let opponent throw body blows. Hard ones. If Rusty does not let you spar, ask to use medicine ball. Again, hard. That explain bruise."

Mix tried to see his gut. He didn't think Chuck had hit him hard enough to cause any bruises. The light wasn't exactly dim, but he couldn't even see any reddened skin. "I don't see it, Ox."

"You will"

Mix looked up into the Russian's face and saw what all Ox's opponents dreaded. Ox was smiling.

"You drew elbow shot."

Ox threw a hard uppercut to the center of Mix's gut, just above the navel. Mix had never felt such force before. It was as if someone had fired a cannonball at him. If Mix hadn't bent with the blow, Ox might have injured Mix's spine. As it was, the punch lifted Mix off his feet. Mix fell to the pavement, gasping for air. For a moment, Mix couldn't move. His muscles blazed with the pain. As the muscles unclenched, they began to spasm. Mix fought the impulse to vomit for a few seconds, then gave in. He puked his guts out until he had nothing left but dry heaves. Finally, after what felt like ten minutes, he managed to make it back to his feet.

Chuck was still unconscious, but breathing--he'd probably be all right. Mix thought of going back to the gym to get Rusty or Bumps, but they would be long gone by now. As he considered this, Mix looked towards the gym door.

Ox stood there, all three of their shirts draped over his shoulder...smiling.

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