Esther: “Round 2 is about to start in this all-Muslim contest. The first two minutes were one-sided, but the Schwartz camp seems to have plotted it this way for a quick turnaround. Can they deliver on their promise?”
It all seems to go according to plan for Leyla in the first seconds. She comes forward and Anna dutifully drops back to leave the centre of the ring to her opponent. A couple of extra feeling-out jabs are traded without much consequence.
Then, the blonde beauty watches the covered woman move her right shoulder. She plants her left foot firmly on the canvas and dishes out her trademark jab. Swift, stiff and accurate to smack the younger Berliner on the cheek. Pish!
Alesia: “Pink her up, baby!”
Esther: “Lady Black, this time wearing pink, sends a message that the resistance may be rising with a crisp jab that remains her signature punch. A shot that we hadn’t seen in the first two minutes, and certainly one that Abdul thought she had taken away.”
The pink-clad woman puts Leyla through unexpected hell in this engagement. She throws fast punches to hit the target as frequently as she received in the previous round. The Volcano does get a few shots in, but the impact is not as convincing as before because her opponent moves better.
With 45 seconds left, Leyla sees a chance as her foe is moving sideways. She throws a left hook to try and catch the chin as it’s a bit low. The Ice Queen ducks to make the red glove miss, steps to the right and out to safety.
Esther: “I believe that we are seeing an improvement in Schwartz’ basics in this fight. She is getting slicker and slipperier overall, making the counters more effective and the defense more viable. Facing an Angry Squirrel may have taught her lessons in avoiding to go nuts.”
The second round ends on a frustrating note for Leyla, who couldn’t get the volcanic activity going as well as she expected.
The young Berliner doesn’t let that turn into a wall. She comes out with venom in the third engagement, cutting the ring and increasing pressure on Anna. The Ice Queen resists and fights back, but she is far more under the weather this time.
The highlight of the round comes nearly one minute in. The Volcano has Anna in her clutches near the ropes. She presses her upper body against her prey’s, who has a tight guard, and pulls back to send an uppercut flying up. It is thrown with such force that it splits the defense and crushes the middle of Anna’s face. PAFF.
Alesia: “Ah, my gawd. That uppercut was amazing.”
Esther: “Fantastico! Bellissimo! Abdul scores with a smashing uppercut that, I believe, has hurt Schwartz! This is textbook boxing in tight space, with body contact that leads to a short cannonball.”
Indeed, the blonde has been rocked and hurt. She grabs Leyla’s waist in a desperate clinch and waits until the ref steps in. She spends the rest of the round backing up, evading and jabbing to keep Leyla away until the bell.
Anna thinks: “Fuck. I just gave that round away.”
Leyla thinks: “I’m not done with you, ice princess. Let’s have a good scrap in the next one.”
The footpath of a legend
Ahead of Round 4, Maxim repeats some of the technical points outlined in previous corner talks: you must twist your upper body when delivering a shot. Anna swears she’ll do it this time.
The bell rings and our contestants gather in the middle of the ring again. This time, they spend most of the round trading toe to toe. Both land clean punches but Anna has the upper hand in trading from close quarters. Her left hand is the most potent weapon on display, and we’re not talking about one in a glass case at a museum.
The highlight of the round comes at 0:23. Leyla is forced back by an intense flurry, and she wants to fight back on the spot. She opens up to swing a left hook. The Ice Queen takes a half step to the left and comes back in with a Leonard-like left with plenty of upper body torque behind. It crashes against Leyla’s jaw and stops her in her tracks. The punch draws a wild reaction from the crowd.
Alesia: “Boah. That’s some serious technique. KEEP IT GOING.”
Esther: “How about this? The two boxers are treating us to a war and it’s so sweet that we’re about to have a sugar rush! Schwartz lands a strong left hand with her bubblegum coloured glove, telling her opponent to chew on it!”
Between Rounds 4 and 5, Caspar tells Leyla to be a bit more cautious in the fifth. She got punished enough in the fourth that taking more clean punches may quickly become dangerous.
The young Muslim ups her defensive game to cancel out some of Anna’s offensive efforts. Her best moment of the round is a timely slip as a dangerous left is coming up to try and meet her chin.
Esther: “Round 5 is a little more tactical than the previous engagement, but we are witnessing technical boxing and a good show from both women. There is some red around Schwartz’ right eye, while Abdul’s right eye is swelling in addition to acquiring colour. This is the fight of the night so far; well worth the price of the ticket.”
The lull doesn’t last forever. Anna doubles up the pressure in the last 20 seconds, finding satisfaction when Leyla is in the ropes. She prods with a couple of jabs that hit gloves before unleashing a huge right hand. The pink glove unlocks the tight defense and slips in to crack Leyla’s jaw. PISH!
The crowd cheers.
Alesia: “THIS IS MY QUEEN!”
Esther: “A howitzer of a right hand goes through to disable Abdul’s tight guard and thump her face. Schwartz is boxing with authority at the moment, showing us that she is no pushover.”
Thankfully for Leyla, there are only 10 seconds left in the round and she can calm the waters to make it to the bell.
However, there is concern in the blue corner as Caspar puts vaseline on the right eye.
Leyla: “Oof. This chick is tough. What do you think?”
Caspar: “Are you willing to go through this for five more rounds?”
Leyla: “Yeah. She’s giving me hell like nobody ever did, but I want this win. I’ll pay the price.”
Caspar: “Okay. But first, I have to warn you. That right eye is swelling and it’s dark red. You have to raise your right hand to protect it. She has a good left, so she’ll target the swollen area. It’s essential to keep that in mind as you fight.”
Leyla: “I will.”
Caspar: “We are at the mid-point and you’re in a war. You are equally matched. Getting the win will NOT be easy. You have to battle for every inch. Tighter defense, fast moves, hard punches. Move in with a flurry if she breaks down. It’s the only way because she doesn’t back down.”
Maxim: “Good news. If the judges see it the way I do, you’re pulling ahead. Bad news: you’re in a hell of a fight and Leyla isn’t about to yield. How is morale?”
Anna: “I’m enjoying this.”
The coach smirks.
Maxim: “That’s the spirit. Okay, I have an idea for what’s ahead. A slight change of angle in your punching motion. Look at me closely. I want you to generate even more torque by bending slightly to the side when you throw, with your arm trailing from the angle.”
The blonde looks attentively as he demonstrates the move.
Maxim: “That one is made to target the swollen right eye, but you should also throw the same way with the right hand. Leyla rarely makes a convincing defensive move, so it’s a great idea to target her eyes and the middle of her face with such punches.”
Maxim: “Also, the way you move around the ring makes it hard for her to throw her best body punches. Keep that part of the game going. It forces her to go for head hunting, and exposes her to counterattacks.”
Anna: “Got it. Anything else?”
Maxim: “No. Let me treat that right eye.”
He puts cold metal on it to prevent swelling, and adds vaseline.
Maxim: “You can do this. Visualise yourself winning the war. It will help you do it.”
Alesia thinks: “If Anna keeps fighting this well, she’ll progress again in the division and there will be questions about the title. We’ll have to figure out what we’re doing. I’m super happy for her, though.”
Esther: “Five rounds in the books with very little resolution in a most entertaining fight. A the mid-point, I have Schwartz up by a single point. The two women have traded punches, defensive moves and rounds early, but the Ice Queen may have more going for her at the moment. If you put money on this fight, you have to be as nervous as Golum every time he sees the ring.”
Zelda: “Seconds out!”