Pro Wrestling Story
On an unusually
warm December afternoon, Bumps is waiting by my car when I get off work. It's
been a long time since I last saw him, but I always assumed our paths would
cross again. Bumps is the kind of guy who lets you be his friend or his punching
bag--there's no other option. I've been his punching bag twice, and I plan on
being his friend as long as possible.
But he's not calling me out for a fight. He gives me a ticket for a boxing card at the Coliseum. Before I can ask, he tells me, "Big night, Doc. Fly's turnin pro. Ain't too many guys postin stories, and yours turned to shit. I figure, what the hell, maybe Fly would like it. Whatever."
And then he leaves, his custom swagger in full force, a sexy strut that seems natural to him. He doesn't look back, just gets in his black convertible and drives off.
So I go.
Fly's fight comes early--first on the undercard, in fact. A four rounder--no surprise there. I'm sitting on the aisle, a few rows back, good view from one of the neutral corners. Not bad. Before I look for him, Fly comes past on my left. I get the impression that Bumps doesn't want Fly to know I'm here--he stands between us as the entourage goes past, just off Fly's right shoulder. Spider comes at the back of the pack, and he makes eye contact, nods at me. I return the greeting.
Fly's fighting at lightweight, just under 135 pounds, which looks solid on his 5'6" frame. I can't quite figure the racial mix, but it doesn't matter--the man is beautiful. More beautiful than handsome, actually. He has deep olive skin, full and sensuous lips, jet black hair cut short and immobilized, and large, dark eyes. When he takes off his black robe, sweat glistens off his ripped, smooth torso. Reminds me of Pacquiao. He's fighting Arty Nemitz, who looks like a frat boy--a little shorter than Fly and nowhere near as cut, a bit heavy in the arms and chest. Nemitz has red hair, pale white skin, small eyes--to be blunt, he looks a little slow to me, but that's just an impression. When they get instructions from the ref, they lock eyes, and Fly looks terrified. Maybe it's those big eyes turning "puppy dog," but he doesn't seem to be faking the fear. They touch gloves, and Fly turns back to his corner quickly. Nemitz waits a second or two, watches Fly go, lets a sneer start to spread and change his expression from stupid to just plain mean. He bangs his gloves together a couple of times, eager to get it on.
Turns out Nemitz bought Fly's psyche.
For most of the first round, Fly throws nothing but jabs. He finds his range pretty fast, and he jabs with more accuracy than most--I'd guess he lands over seventy percent of them, but I'm not CompuBox. Maybe Nemitz is slow, maybe Fly is as fast as he claims. But the jab is never the only weapon in a fighter's arsenal. Fly looks like a one-punch, one-armed fighter. A scared, one-punch, one-armed fighter. A really good, scared, one-punch, one-armed fighter. Nemitz's head keeps bouncing as Fly lands jab after jab. Nemitz gets frustrated, neglects his own jab and throws power shots, most of which miss. Fly's not perfect--Nemitz lands a few hard body shots--but Fly keeps moving, stopping only a moment to throw a jab, then ducking, bobbing, weaving, blocking, slipping punch after punch. In the last ten seconds or so of the round, Fly's left glove blurs as he lands five quick jabs and follows that with a right cross. Not much heat behind that last punch, but nice punctuation to the round. Angry now, Nemitz stomps back to his corner. From what I can tell, Fly's right didn't hurt Nemitz much, but it'd be hard to score the round against Fly. And Nemitz has no idea how to change his attack. His corner gets agitated, lots of fingers in his face, even a slap when Nemitz hangs his head a little. In the opposite corner, Fly looks fresher than he should--I can't imagine how much his left shoulder muscles must be burning--and there's no urgency in his corner.
Round two. So far, I'm impressed. I thought Fly was all mouth, but that jab of his starts popping again, just as fast...at first. Then he throws it less often, holds his right in tight but doesn't throw it. Nemitz counters off Fly's jab, hits him with a pretty solid right hook, but Fly rolls to his right to escape most of the power. Still, his jaw looks a little weak--Fly stumbles back a step or two, looks a little dazed. Nemitz comes in, starts a combination with his left. When Nemitz gets in range, Fly wings his own combination, a quick one-two followed with a right hook. Not a lot of heat behind the blows, but Fly has Nemitz frustrated again. Over and over, Fly does about the same routine: lure the guy in by playing weak, then smack him with a quick set of punches. To be fair, Nemitz gets more body work in in this round--at one point, Fly's act is a little too convincing when he winces from a couple of body shots. Close to the end of the round, Fly plants his feet and tosses out four power shots of his own--straight left, right and left hooks, right uppercut. A lot more heat this time. The last punch sends Nemitz back into his own corner. Fly doesn't follow up, just stands a few feet away and lets the final seconds go. Now Nemitz knows what anyone watching should know--Fly's been playing him the whole time, cat-and-mouse style. There's a mixture of frustration, anger and fear on Nemitz now, as he watches Fly strut back to his corner. Nemitz's heart isn't in it anymore. Fly's already got it won. Sure, Nemitz's corner tries to psyche him up, but if a fighter believes he's beat...he's beat.
Round three starts slow. Nemitz would rather be home right now, but Fly's stalking his prey. It takes twenty seconds or so for contact to happen, but Fly strikes fast when the time comes. Nemitz blocks and ducks, but he doesn't run--which is either brave or stupid, depending on your point of view. He tries to counter a few times, but the body work he forgets. Fly's attack seems a little cruel--it's clear he could take the guy out, but he doesn't close the deal. There's no holding back--the punches that get through land hard--but he's punishing the guy. Most of the way through the round, the ref gives Nemitz a standing eight. Nemitz doesn't quit, though--he could develop into a tough customer. The ref waves Fly in again. Now Fly closes the deal, quick shots to the gut to bring Nemitz's guard down, then five power shots to the head--left, right, left, right, right--and Nemitz goes down.
The crowd's not at its full size yet--this was the first fight on the undercard--but the ones who are here break out in a crazed cheer. They'll remember this. Before long, Nemitz is on his feet, and he hugs Fly, and the announcer tells us what we already know. Then Fly leaves the ring, starts back up the aisle...and that's when he sees me. From the knockdown up to this point, Fly's been pretty pleased with himself but calm and professional, but now he turns into a little kid. He runs up to me, asks if I saw the fight and if I'll write it up and post it. When I say yes, he jumps up onto me--arms hugging my neck, legs wrapped around my hips, his taut body pressed against me, his sweat on my clothes, the scent of the fight (a mixture of sweat and the ointments a corner uses--you have to have smelled it to recognize it). It's a hot moment for me. Before he releases his hold, he kisses me full on the lips and lets out one more victory yelp. Then he heads back to the lockers.
"You losin weight, Doc?" That husky bedroom voice that Bumps has, a bedroom whisper filled with sex, cuts through the sound of the crowd as they greet the next set of fighters.
"Yeah. Doctor's orders. Getting older, you know." I'm down about forty pounds, but people have just started to notice. I'm still a hefty dude, but there's less padding. I've got to play this right, or I'll be a punching bag again.
"Nah. Just trying to get healthy."
Bumps laughs one of those dismissive grunts. "See ya round, Doc. You ain't got no other shape but round." And he leaves.
Which leaves Spider, the tall middleweight with the long arms. We make eye contact once more. Then he says, "I'll be in touch." And he leaves.
I don't stay for the rest of the card. The people next to me keep giving me funny looks, and Fly's scent and sweat are all over me. Before I leave, though, the guy next to me--one of those old-timers who fought "back in the day"--he taps my hand and says, "He doesn't believe you."
"The trainer. Why he doesn't want you training, I don't know. But he knows you are. You be careful, son. He looks mean to me."
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