An overhand right torpedoed past Carter “Cyclone” Williams’ guard and landed flush on his chin, sending the challenger to the canvas in a heap. Williams’ body hit with a thud at the same time the bell rang to end the tenth round. It was barely audible over the uproarious crowd of spectators lost to their own insatiable blood lust.

“Six. Seven. Eight.” The referee flashed eight fingers overhead, bringing the crowd to a fever pitch. Williams had risen to his feet and steadied himself. “Can you continue?” the ref asked while grabbing the boxer’s gloved hands.

“I’m good. I’m good,” Williams answered, pulling his hands back and pounding them together.

The ref pointed to the corner where Williams’ team was already waiting on him. “Alright, to your corner.”

Williams gingerly made his way to the corner and dropped onto his stool like his body was made of lead. Williams’ trainer pulled his mouth guard out and squeezed a short stream of water into his mouth.“Guy hits like a fuckin’ freight train,” Williams said after spitting blood-tinted water into a bucket.

“You need to keep moving your head. And for all that is holy, watch that fuckin’ right hand.” He pantomimed a jab and right hook. “He’s hittin’ you with it whenever he wants.”

A loud roar erupted throughout the crowd as they watched a replay of the knockdown on the screen hanging high above the ring.

The bell sounded and Williams’ team pushed him to his feet and cleared the corner in one swift set of machine-like movements.

“Come on, come on,” the referee ordered.

It seemed like he’d just sat down and now was already squaring back up with the champ, Martin “Thunderclap” Gonzalez in the middle of the ring. Williams had little energy left and his head was still in a thick fog from the knockdown. The muscles in his legs were barely cooperating and there was a delay between the signals from his brain and the movements of his hands and feet. He was now a full step behind Gonzalez during every exchange.

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The boxing commentator announced the fight with renewed enthusiasm. “There’s a beautiful left-right combination from the champ. Williams returns with a straight left hand but Gonzalez gets out of the way. Williams looks completely spent. I’d be surprised if he makes it out of the round.”

Gonzalez closed the distance but Williams clinched him up in desperation. His hands had become concrete blocks and he could barely hold them up.

“Break! Break!” the ref shouted as he pulled the two men apart.  

“I don’t know how much more punishment Williams can take,” the commentator continued. “He’s having trouble avoiding those heavy right hand shots from Gonzalez. And now the champ is closing in again on the weary Williams. There’s another stunning combination. Williams blocks two punches to the head but gets caught with a thunderous uppercut. He stumbles! Williams is hurt!”

Gonzalez—like a tiger seeing a wounded animal—goes in for the kill.

“The champ is really putting the pressure on Williams now. Williams is overwhelmed. Gonzalez hits him with a flurry of punches. Williams is staggered! He grabs for Gonzalez to tie him up. Oh! Gonzalez connects with a clean right hook out of nowhere! Down goes Williams for the second time! This might be it folks.”

The world grew dark and cold. The noise of the crowd faded away like the breeze over a calm sea. An eternity passed before the light returned. And when it did, its brightness was almost heavenly.

“You hear me, son? You have to knock him out. It’s the only way you can win.”

Williams stared at his trainer with a distant look in his eyes. He had no recollection of getting up from the knockdown or how he managed to finish out the round. There was a tremendous pounding in his head and the skin around his eyes throbbed with a grotesque tightness. His whole face felt like an over-inflated balloon.


“Can you continue?”


“What round is it?” Williams managed to ask.

“Focus Carter. It’s the last round. You gotta knock him out.” The trainer slammed his right fist into his open left hand with a loud smack. “You understand? Knock. Him. Out! Now let’s go win this belt.”

“Gonzalez goes right back on the attack. Williams is doing everything he can to avoid the relentless assault by the champ.” The commentator grew more animated as he called the fight.

Williams had little control over his movements. His arms and legs were numb and he could no longer feel the heavy punches hammering his gloves, shoulders, and upper arms. It was like there was a series of fireworks exploding in his head and he couldn’t focus on countering the shots coming at him. All he could do was keep his guard up and do his best to slip some punches.

“Gonzalez has looked incredible tonight. People worried that the weight cut for this fight would hurt his stamina, but he’s shown no signs of slowing down.”

The champ continued with his flurry of punches, but there was no power behind them. Even when he connected, the punches weren’t doing any damage. He was playing it safe and waiting for the final round to end.

The fog started to clear in Williams’ head and he realized what was happening. There was a minute surge of energy that brought the feeling back to his body. He knew he had only one chance to win this fight.

“The round is winding down and the champ is pulling back. A much deserved win for an incredible performance tonight. As for Williams, he fought his heart out, but it just wasn’t enough. Gonzalez was too much for him tonight. But there’s no shame in how he—Oh my! Williams comes out with an unexpected body shot. Gonzalez is hurt! Gonzalez is hurt!” The crowd jumped to their feet with a deafening roar. “The champ retreats backward but Williams is right after him. Where did he find this spurt of energy? Oh! Gonzalez is pushed back on the ropes. Williams is unleashing a slew of punches!”

A loud clacking echoed, signifying the round would be coming to an end in a few moments.

“Williams connects with a hard right. And now a straight left. Oh no! Gonzalez is on his heels. Can he make it to the bell? Can he—He’s hit with a furious uppercut! Down goes Gonzalez! Down goes Gonzalez!”

The final bell rang and the ref pushed Williams with one hand towards his corner, then began the count with the other.

“Seven. Eight.”

Gonzalez managed to get up to a knee.

“Nine.”

He grabbed the ropes and pulled himself up, but his legs wobbled out of control.

“Ten!”

The referee rushed over and hugged Gonzalez so he wouldn’t fall back to the ground. He waved his hand wildly signaling the end of the fight and the crowd exploded with a series of cheers and boos.

“Unbelievable! Williams comes back during the last seconds of the fight to knockout the champ Martin Gonzalez. This is one of the most amazing moments in boxing history!”

Williams stood in the center of the ring as countless people rushed him from all sides. The commotion was overwhelming. He was finally the champion of the world. This was the moment he had dreamed of since he was a little boy following his father every day to their local boxing gym. He thought when this moment arrived he would be filled with joy, but now that it was here, all he wanted to do was lay down and take a nap. Everything hurt. But in the end, after all the blood, sweat, and tears given to get here, after all the grueling training and sacrifice, it was all worth it. 

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