It is a day after the big fight. Virani has been released from hospital after staying overnight for observation. Besides receiving a concussion from Kayleigh, she is OK. Thomas, Amy (Virani’s promoter) and Virani retreat to Amy’s flat in London to rest and figure out their next move. Virani quickly falls asleep on the couch.
Thomas: “I think she’s asleep. I can’t imagine she slept well at the Hospital.”
Amy: “She’s free to stay here for a while. I can keep an eye on her. She can stay in my spare room.” Amy paces around the room, “But while she’s asleep, we should talk about last night.”
Thomas: The memories of last night are still raw for Virani’s coach. He thinks that he has failed his charge. Constantly, he thinks about what he coult have done differently. Over and over, he plays the fight in his head, trying to figure out where it all went wrong. “She tried her heart out and came out second best. There’s not much to say to that.”
Amy: “She made a lot of fans yesterday, a lot. I’ve already had the EBC contact me this morning. They want to know when they can have her on one of their cards again.” Amy gestures at the sleeping Virani, “This girl is a star. I’m turning down interview requests left and right. She’s got the right mix of beauty, vulnerability and skill that I can sell.”
Thomas: “She’s suspended from competition for 4 months, and she is supposed to have no contact at all for at least 2 months. She’s a long way from getting back. And mentally….I don’t know how she’s going to react. Knockouts have varying effects on fighters, and Virani was not in a great mood afterwards. We need to be careful with her. Virani is very strong, mentally, but I think she will take this loss hard. Virani’s competitive, but she can get discouraged.”
Amy: “Virani is your fighter and you know her best. But even though she didn’t win, she accomplished a lot in that ring last night. The British public wants more of her. We need to keep her in the public eye. I can do that, if she lets me.”
Thomas: “Virani’s a private person and I think she’ll be even more private after this.”
Amy: “I understand, but there is an opportunity here…”
Thomas: “Discuss it with her when she wakes up,” he snaps. Even watching Virani sleep softly on the couch reminds him of what happened less than 24 hours ago. His fighter, his star pupil, his friend even, got knocked out in front of a a TV audience that numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Soon it will be on YouTube and watched my thousands more. He should have done better. He should have made her better. It’s his failure as much as it was hers.
Unfortunately, the argument between Thomas and Amy has awoken Virani.
Virani: “Huh. Is someone arguing?” Virani had been having the first peaceful sleep since the fight. So, of course it had gotten interrupted. Would this nightmare please end sometime soon?
Thomas: “You should just rest, Virani.”
Virani: “I’m up. Lets talk.”
Amy: “We were just talking about how proud we are of how you fought yesterday. The network loved you. They want you back as soon as possible. The other fights that were on after you were duds, so everyone is talking about your fight.”
Virani: “And how I got brutally knocked out in the 6th round.”
Thomas: “That’s only part of it.”
Virani: “Seems like a pretty big part to me. Local girl stages impressive comeback, flattens foreigner in final round. Not much for me to be proud of, is there?”
Thomas: Virani seems to be taking the defeat very hard, “You haven’t even seen the news or the coverage of the fight, Virani. You are just jumping to conclusions. You fought amazingly. A lot of people were impressed. You may have lost, but you proved that you are very close to being able to beat some tough fighters.”
Virani: “I don’t care. All that matters is that I got laid out flat! I can’t even remember the sixth round! Every muscle that I have protests every movement I make. So yes, forgive me if I’m a bit bitchy.”
Thomas: “You are forgiven, Virani. We don’t have to do anything right now. All I want to be focused on is making sure that you are okay.”
Virani: “That’s sweet Tom. But I don’t care at all about boxing for the moment, so if we could just not talk about me getting knocked out, that would be great.”
Amy: “Okay. We need to talk about your post-fight marketing strategy. I have several interview requests that I think we should get to…”
Virani: “No. No interviews.”
Virani: “I said no!”
Amy: “I understand this is a tough time for you. But we need to strike when the iron is hot. We have reporters from the London Times, The Guardian…these are top newspapers. We want to keep your name in the news, to keep you in the public eye. You’re a good speaker and it can be a short interview, if you want. We should also release a post on Instagram for your million followers…yes you broke 1 million followers after your fight. You’re getting lots of messages asking if you are okay. We need to respond.”
Virani: “I can’t even explain how little I care right now. You think I need an Instagram post? Do it for me. But no interviews. No nothing. I would like to be left alone. I don’t even want to think about boxing. Damn this social media era!”
Thomas: Damn, Virani has taken this harder than I thought. “Maybe Virani and I should speak. Alone.”
Amy: “Okay. I’ll craft a statement in the other room.”
Thomas: I move to sit beside Virani. She’s clearly emotional at the moment and as Virani’s friend it really pains me to see her like this. “You feeling okay, Virani?”
Virani: “Yeah, I’m okay. Relatively speaking, I guess. I do know one thing. Tom. I need you to go back to Toronto.”
Virani: “Thomas…I’m suspended medically for months….”
Thomas: “We can get that changed, later.”
Virani: “I don’t think that we need to. I’m going to take a break. A break where I don’t think about boxing. And I need to do it alone. I need someone back in Toronto making sure things don’t fall apart. I’ll be okay.”
Thomas: “Are you sure?”
Virani: “Yeah. It might change when I start feeling better, but right now I just need some time to myself.”
Thomas: “Okay. On one condition. You stay with Amy for the first week. I don’t want you slipping into depression alone in some foreign country.”
Virani: “I won’t. I just need time to recharge. Time to get away from it all. I think that I still love boxing, but for the first time I need to figure out if I still do.
Thomas: “Okay, I trust you, Virani. Just don’t be afraid to reach out. It’ll be good for you to have a little vacation. Whatever you do, know that I support you, 100%.”
Virani: “Thanks, Thomas. I’ll be back. Just…give me a bit to find myself again.