Six months ago
I could do this. I needed to do this. I needed to win. My arms flexed over my head to stretch, as I spotted my opponent. I’ve watched him before. I’ve studied him the past few fights. He was good, I’d give him that. His record was 30-0, but I was 40-2. More fights meant better chances. Right? His large arms were twice the size of mine, but he moved slowly. He always stepped twice on his back foot before throwing a punch. It was his weakness. The telltale sign he was getting ready to strike. I stepped into the circle that was chalked on the concrete floor. My opponent held out his large callused hand, and I gave him a firm handshake. His strong grip worried me, but I’ve fought guys his size before. Hell, I’ve fought a lot of men of all different shapes and sizes. But I wasn’t afraid of him. I was afraid to lose. I couldn’t let my dad down. I had to win this for him.
The referee stated the rules we had all heard before. No bailouts. No head-butting and no elbows. We played till knock out or until the ref called the fight. I caught my opponent’s dark eyes as they glared at me. This guy meant business. I heard the crack of his bare knuckles as he flexed his hands together, preparing for our fight.
One hit. It was all I needed. One left hook and my opponent would be out.
The referee's whistle blew, and we started our meticulous dance around each other. Both of us tried to find the perfect opportunity to throw a punch. I watched closely as his right hand drew back preparing for impact. It swung out with force. As I blocked it with my forearm, I threw a punch with my left hand; it clipped his jaw, but it wasn’t enough. It was going to take a lot more force to bring him down. He shook his head and started bouncing around me again. I studied his foot, waiting for his telltale sign. There it was. He took a step back, his arm retracting behind him, as his fist came toward me. But I missed the block as he hit the side of my eye. Black dots twirled around me from the impact.
I could hear my dad’s shouts at me through the roar of the crowd - bringing my focus back.
“He’s slow Killian. Hit him! Watch your left side!”
My opponent was getting tired. I could see it already. His dance was slowing down, his arms grew weak from holding them up. Another two steps and he swung. Blocking it again I threw a left hook as hard as I could, rotating my fist to strike him with my knuckles. I heard them crack as they hit his face. His eyes fluttered shut for a moment as he stumbled back, dizzy from the impact. His balance was thrown as his hands came to his sides. He was done. There was no way he was going to come back from a punch like that to his face.
Then I made the biggest mistake of my career. I lowered my arms and my guard thinking I had won.
Before I knew what hit me, I could feel the pain of his fist as it shook my skull. The pain was intense. Something clearly wasn’t right. I stood there dazed and confused watching him come at me again. But I couldn’t move as his right fist caught my lower jaw.
And it was lights out.