The five days following the weigh-in were not very productive. We could get no training done due to the interruptions of people (mostly men) wanting to be photographed with me or asking me to sign a photo taken at the weigh-in by the Blue Diamond photographers. The photos were supposedly only available to Blue Diamond club members through Blue Diamond’s net. The old man said that the photos had probably been loaded to every porn net in the galaxy within 24 hours of the weigh-in. I began to get depressed over the prospect of appearing nearly naked in front of hundreds of people on Friday night. It showed in my workouts. The old man yelled a lot at me, but I could tell that he was concerned about my mental fitness for the upcoming fight.
Friday finally came. Though the fight didn’t start until 9:00PM, they started preparing me at one. They styled my hair, applied makeup, applied the gold glitter to my skin, and they even did my nails, which didn’t make sense since I would be wearing boxing gloves. When they finished, I was supposed to be mellow, instead I was quite melancholy. A little after seven, Gary and the old man came into my dressing room.
“How are you doing, kiddo?” the old man asked. “Ready to be taped up?” I gave a half-hearted reply and Gary sat down and began taping my right hand. Hands were taped for two reasons, to protect the small bones of the hand and wrist and to create a more solid fist for punching. I liked the wrap to be good and tight just on the edge of beginning to cut off the circulation.
“Listen, girlie,” the old man began to growl, “if you don’t climb out of the funk you’re in, she’ll take you down punishing you as much as she can.”
“I know, I know. It’s the whole being nearly naked thing that’s getting to me.” I said.
“Look, when sports was invented, everyone competed naked. And they did so with professionalism and dignity. It ain’t the end of the world.”
“Besides,” added Gary, “you’re real pretty to look at, Betty, but once you start fighting, they’ll be so amazed at your skill, they’ll forget what you are wearing. Er, not wearing.”
“Barkley’s right on this one. The goombahs in the audience who came to see a cat fight will get schooled in what real boxing is about.” said the old man opening up his black bag.
“Are you going to juice me up?” I asked. Maybe if I were on stims I could forget this whole thing.
“No, not this time. You’ve trained hard. You don’t need any juicing. However, I have a little something that will help restore some of your dignity.” With that, the old man reached into the bag and pulled out a sports bra and a pair of shorts.
“I don’t know what to say.” I blubbered.
“Don’t say nothing.” he growled. “You’re going to pay the breach of contract fine out of your salary, all 120 thousand creds.”
“120 thousand creds?” I asked.
“Seesh, girl! You really do need to start reading these contracts!” barked the old man. “Now, Barkley and I will step out of the room so you can change. After you’ve changed, we’ll come back and put the gloves on.”
I slipped out of the robe and picked up the bra and shorts. I started thinking about the 120 thousand cred fine. The Blue Diamond was the kind of business that would collect every cred of the fine. It would take me twenty years to pay off a fine like that. I paused and looked in a mirror. “Why pay 120 thousand when I can make 120 thousand? Make 120 thousand and kick a blue bimbo’s ass.” I thought. I didn’t look bad at all. As I thought, I began to bounce on my toes. And when I pulled my shoulders back I was surprised. The tassels began to twirl. Then I noticed that if I raised my arm, I could change the direction of the twirl. For the first time in weeks, I laughed.
A knock came on the door. “Betty? Are you ready?” It was Gary. I hurriedly slipped the robe back on and opened the door. This girl was not going to pay 120 thousand. This girl was going to win 120 thousand.
So, that is how I got here. Standing naked in a corner waiting for a spotlight. The expression on Gary’s and the old man’s faces when I took off the robe was priceless. Ah! Here’s the light, showtime!
“And in the red corner at five feet five and one half inches, weighing 146 pounds, Bouncing Betty Caruso!” The crowd cheered and when I twirled the tassels, they cheered louder. Kirei looked pissed. I bet she wished she would have thought of this.
I met Kirei in the center of the ring for the traditional “no hitting below the belt” and “shake hands and come out fighting” speech from the referee. It was also a tradition to talk smack to your opponent. Kirei said “For ugly girl, you clean up good. Too bad I have to crush you.”
Without much imagination, or thought, I shot back, “Yeah? Well same to you, sister!” On my way back to my corner, a sudden thought did occur, “Wait! Did we just give each other back handed complements?”
When I got to my corner, a beaming Gary said “Wow, Betty, you really got the crowd excited. Right, Boss?”
“Hmmphf. All that prancing out there… the only thing missing was a brass pole! It’s time to get serious.” said the old man as he shoved my mouthguard in. The bell rang to start the first round.
I bounced out to the center of the ring to meet Kirei. She was standing flat footed, a big stationary target for me to dance around. Just as I reached her, she launched herself at me. It amazed me that she was able to accelerate so quickly from a flat footed stance. The surprises weren’t over, she immediately threw a jab. She was so quick that I almost didn’t see the follow up left hook. The punches were coming so quick that I couldn’t move in any direction but back.
There was a limit to moving back. I felt the ropes on my back. I could move no further, she had me pinned. She was began to land glancing blows. I tried to cover up, but she kept knocking my arms away. I tried a big punch to create some room, but she hooked my wrist and spun me to the right. It created an opening. She landed a solid blow to the left side of my head. I used the ropes to spin me back and I threw a series of jabs. She stepped back on her heels. I sprang forward. She was waiting for me. Another solid right to the left side of my face. It was obvious she was trying to take me down early, and if I didn’t change the tempo, she would succeed. She moved in throwing jabs to move me back onto the ropes. Instead of moving back, I leaned into her and wrapped her in a hug. She got a couple of jabs to my midsection before the referee reached in and broke us up.
We danced around a little and this time when she launched herself at me, I did the same. We collided and clung to one another to keep from falling down. The bell rang.
In my corner, Gary checked the left side of my face. It still stung a little. “You’re lucky, Betty. If she’d been a little higher, your left eye would be swelling shut. As it is, the swelling is below the eye.”
“Listen, girlie,” began the old man, “Everyone can see that she is trying to take you out early. She spent a lot of energy. She scored at least ten points and you didn’t score a one. Keep her at a distance for a bit and see what she has left. Do the ol’ float like a butterfy routine.” He put the mouthguard back into my mouth. I nodded that I understood. The bell rang to start round two.
I bounced out to the center of the ring again. This time I was more careful. Kirei rushed at me, but I made sure to stay out of reach. We settled into a dance of bobbing and weaving. Every few seconds one of use would step in and throw a punch. She was in a hurry and kept trying to speed up the pace. When she would, I would step back and slow the dance down. I waited for her frustration to create an opening and then I connected with a jab. At one point, I got the timing off and Kirei made me pay for it with a combination to my midsection. About midway through the round, we both lost the timing and clinched one another.
After the referee separated us, I picked up the pace and Kirei was eager to do the same. She rushed more often. I scored another jab and she grabbed me and hung on. I could hear her panting. The dance continued, bobbing, weaving, feinting, jabbing, and blocking. The bell rang. We touched gloves and went to our corners.
“You did better this round.” growled the old man. “You scored more points this round, but you’re still behind. You gotta have a round as good or better than the first one.”
“She’s getting tired. I can close the gap this round or next.” I said.
“Well, be careful. She’s still got some big punches left.” the old man replied as he put the mouthguard in. The bell rang, time for round three.
She came at me hard. I stumbled a little and she stung me with a left cross. This time I countered with my own combination to her midsection. The combination was enough to back her onto the ropes. She tried to spin past me. I caught her with a quick left and pushed her into a corner. I quickly pummeled her with every punch I had. I tried an uppercut with my right, she blocked it, but I landed a left on her kisser. The corner of her mouth blossomed with red. She stumbled forward. I caught her and she held on until the referee separated us.
The referee looked at the small trickle of blood and wiped it away. The bleeding had stopped. He moved us out of the corner and let the fight continue. Again she came at me hard. She threw a huge roundhouse with her right. I ducked it and stepped under her arm and delivered a staccato of jabs to the midsection and ribs. I could hear her breath rush out. She backed up to recover a lungful of air, but she backed into the ropes. A right cross pushed her into the corner, again. I stepped in hoping to knock her wind out again, but she grabbed me and hung on until the bell rang.
“You may have caught up to her in the scoring with that round.” said the old man.
“She’s nearly finished.” I said. “I think she tried too hard in the first round. Kirei’s not going to make to round ten.”
The old man grunted. “Better watch out. A wounded bear is the most dangerous. Don’t get cocky! Stick with the fundamentals.” In went the mouthguard as the bell starting round four rang.
We started the dance again, stalking one another looking for an advantage. Kirei was not moving as fast as she had in the opening round. I rushed her and she backed away. I held my ground and rushed again pushing her onto the ropes as I leaned in and punished the midsection. She tried to box her way out of the ropes, but I blocked everything she had. I connected a left hook to her eye and it began to swell. Kirei was stunned so I gave her everything I had. It surprised both of us when an uppercut connected and Kirei went down to the mat.
The referee began counting. When he reached three, she was on her knees. At six, she was back on her feet. The referee checked Kirei out and then sent us to neutral corners. The knockdown had brought the crowd to its feet and they were still standing.
The dance began again. We were like two alley cats warily stalking one another trying to decide when to strike. I struck first. I charged her hard throwing a series of combinations and jabs. Kirei couldn’t block them all and found herself on the ropes again. One more combination to the midsection and then I went up top and unloaded on her. She attempted to cover up, but another uppercut slipped past her guard nailing her on the chin. Her head snapped back and she crumpled to the canvas.
The referee counted. At three, she was still down. Five, and then six, Kirei made no movement. When the referee got to eight, Kirei moved her arms and flexed her knees. Nine, ten. The referee stopped the fight. I won with a knockout. The crowd went crazy. I had knocked her out late in the fourth round.
“Short night.” said Billy Pink, “Wanna go get a drink?”
Ashlynn Cooper smiled. “Why sure, if you’re buying.”
“You didn’t lose on this fight, did you?” Billy Pink asked.
She laughed. “No, I just would have won more if it had gone the distance.”
I anxiously waited in my dressing room for the post-fight medical exam. I knew the doctor would attend to Kirei first. Finally, the door opened and Doc Brown walked in. “Doc, how is she?” I asked. “Is she ok?”
“Whoa, whoa, young lady. I’m here to check on you.” doc replied. “However, since you asked. Miss Satsriku is fine. In fact, she asked me to give you this.” he said, handing me a small envelope. I opened the envelope to find a pair of silver sequined pasties with silver tassels and a small sheet of paper. I unfolded the paper.
“Say, didn’t she give you a pair of those the last time you two fought?” Doc Brown inquired. I shook my head ‘yes’. “Well, looks like you’ve got a start of a collection.” The paper had a familiar phone number along with the words “please call” underlined. I smiled and thought “maybe.”