Set up: Noah’s first time fighting while his “friend” Roni is ringside… Jack is the older owner of the gym. Gio and Abel are Noah’s good friends and also boxers.
The night of the fight came faster than Noah expected. It would take place right there in the gym against another nobody like himself. They weren’t even charging, so they had a good-sized crowd. Abel said it wouldn’t be much of a competition. His opponent was really new to the boxing scene, and this was one of his first fights. However, Abel said it was good conditioning for bigger stuff, and Noah had bigger stuff coming.
Gio did a last-minute check of Noah’s gloves while Abel applied more Vaseline to Noah’s face. Jack stood on the side of the ring, giving him last-minute advice. “Don’t get overconfident out there. This guy is new, but that might work to his advantage. He probably knows way more about you than you do about him. If he’s smart, he did his homework. As soon as you catch your groove, get on him and end it as fast as possible.” Noah listened, all the while watching as Roni turned around in her seat, striking up a conversation with the guy sitting behind her. She now sat facing backwards from the front row. “Are you listening to me?”
Noah forced his eyes away from the guy talking to Roni and brought his attention back to Jack, nodding. “Don’t take this fight lightly, Noah. The last thing you want is to take it for granted that you got this and get hurt again.”
“I won’t.” Noah promised.
Gio tapped his gloves. “You’re good,” he said then jumped out of the ring as the ref gave them a one-minute warning.
Abel finished up with the Vaseline then looked at him very seriously. “Keep your head in the fight. You hear me? I’ve never seen you fight with this kind of distraction out there.” His head gestured in Roni’s direction, but he never took his eyes off Noah. “You need to focus, or it’s gonna cost you. Just use that left jab of yours, and you should be good. Only thing this guy has is speed.”
The warning bell rang, and Abel jumped out of the ring. Noah stood up, glancing in Roni’s direction. She was facing the ring now, but the guy was still leaning forward, talking to her from behind. Focus, damn it.
The ref rattled off the last-second reminders about the rules and what not to do. They touched gloves, the bell rung, and they were off. Abel was right. The guy was fast. Getting in that left jab wasn’t going to be too easy, but it certainly wasn’t impossible. The added adrenaline from knowing there was a dude a little too interested in Roni in the audience might actually work to his advantage.
Another glance in that direction made him want to punch someone out, and he landed a hard one on his opponent’s jaw, making him stumble back, but he stayed on his feet.
“There you go!” Abel yelled from his ringside seat.
“You got this, Noah.” Gio yelled.
Noah jumped around the ring, trying hard to focus on the fight. He landed a few more body shots before the bell rang ending the first round. Gio and Abel were immediately in the ring. Abel counted down from ten before letting him sit down then toweled him down and applied more Vaseline while Gio gave him water. “Why you slowing it down?” Abel asked. “You could’ve ended this in the first round. He almost went down with that first jab.”
Noah’s eyes were on Roni again as she turned around to talk to that same guy. Abel patted Noah on the chin twice. The second time harder than the first. “Focus!” He pointed his two fingers at his eyes. “I need you right here right now. Don’t blow this, Noah. This should be a piece of cake for you. This guy should’ve gone down already.”
Noah nodded as the bell rang again, and Abel and Gio jumped out of the ring. Abel banged his fist on the ring floor. “Let’s do this now!”
Roni was facing the ring again, but the idiot behind her still leaned forward and whispered something in her ear. The jab to his temple came out of nowhere. Noah stumbled to the side, seeing stars. “God damn it, Noah!” Abel yelled.
After shaking it off and feeling a sudden adrenaline rush, Noah moved in fast, landing a left hook to his opponent’s nose and then another one to his jaw. Just like that, the guy went down. The ref rushed in between them and started the countdown. Everyone was on their feet now, including Roni. She’d worn her hair down; the curls he now loved fell softly down past her shoulders. She looked beautiful.
Their eyes met and he smiled at her. She smiled back but still wrung her hands nervously. She’d admitted to being really nervous about seeing him fight on their way there. His eyes then traveled to behind Roni where the guy stood clapping and also smiling, only now Noah wasn’t smiling. His eyes locked on the guy. He gave him that look reserved exclusively for the ring when he stared his opponent down just before his fights, letting them know they were going down. Noah could only hope that the sudden disappearance of the guy’s smile meant he got the message loud and clear. He glanced at Roni again, softening his expression back to a smile before the ref lifted his arm, declaring him winner by knockout.