The gladiators receive final instructions before Round 10. The ref yells “seconds out” and they get up from their stools.
The bell rings and the final round is underway.
What a final round it is for Anna. She comes forward and throws endless punches at Leyla. She throws with both hands, and the round rapidly turns into a barrage of pink leather with speed, intention and courage.
Leyla’s defense holds up in the first 30 seconds, but the shots start landing and applause follows. Anna crushes the gas pedal, keeps coming forward and taking her opponent’s chin. Too gassed to reply, all Leyla can do is receive and hope to survive. Her energy level crashed after nine rounds of war and Anna still has enough in the tank to completely dominate the round.
Clack clack clack. The Volcano is in the ropes and there’s no eruption in sight. Anna is content with landing a solid right cross on the chin and keeping her under pressure the rest of the way. Just enough to prevent the lucky punch.
The bell finally rings to end the fight. The crowd gets to its feet and gives Anna a well deserved ovation. She responds with a simple arm up, without paying too much attention to boxing fans who once treated her like trash. Her inner monologue says much about what’s in her mind, though.
Anna thinks: “I’m back. I think I finally beat a reputable fighter on my own. Fuck yes.”
Esther: “Schwartz and Abdul made the distance in a hotly contested, crispy cracker of a fight that makes English shortbreads seem chewy in comparison. Have you ever had those with tea? A delight, I tell you. Anyway, let me compile the unofficial scorecard for the final update.”
Despite 20 minutes of violence, the two Berliners smile at each other. Leyla, whose right eye is nearly shut, offers an embrace to Anna, who’s happy to get into it.
Leyla: “Good work. That was a war!”
Anna: “I let you have me in sparring to get this date.”
Leyla: “Rascal! Well, it was fun to spank you in the gym.”
Anna: “Honestly? I didn’t mind it either.”
They laugh out loud.
Esther thinks Anna won
Esther: “We will have the official announcement in a couple of minutes. To pass the time, I suggest my unofficial scorecard. After 10 rounds of action, it’s a close call. I have it 95-93 in favour of Schwartz. Based on my scoring, the two contestants split points almost evenly. Abdul pulled ahead after Round 3, 6 and 8 but Schwartz fought back every time to win by a nose. What I say doesn’t matter, though. It all depends on how the ringside judges saw each round.”
How tired is Leyla before the official announcement? Right after congratulating Anna on a good performance, she goes back to her corner and rests on the top rope. She’s exhausted. Nobody ever gave her this kind of fight before.
The Ice Queen triumphs
Ring announcer: “After 10 exciting rounds, we go to the scorecards. Judge Lucas Menger, from Austria, scores it 95-93 in favour of Schwartz.”
The crowd cheers.
Ring announcer: “Judge Christophe Clocheret, from Belgium, scores it 95-93 in favour of Abdul.”
Supporters of the young prospect go wild.
Ring announcer: “Judge Evelína Benešová, from Czech Republic, scores this bout 95-93… in favour of the winner… by split decision… she’s ICE COLD….”
Ring announcer: “ANNA SCHWARTZ!”
The blonde drops on her knees for a celebration as the crowd hurls, jumps and shouts for the win. Alesia gets ready to enter the ring at the first occasion.
Leyla: “Dammit. All this for a split decision loss. Dammit!”
Anna goes to high-five Maxim after clinching the most exciting win of her career. Alesia jumps in the ring for a hug and a kiss. The Ice Queen couldn’t be more satisfied.
It’s time for post-match interviews.
Esther: “Hi Anna. I’ve seen you somewhere.”
Anna: “Yeah, not sure where but you look familiar.”
Esther: “So, you have clinched your 15th career win and have 4 losses on record. Leyla just gave you a war. What are your impressions?”
Anna: “She is so tough. It’s uncomfortable to be under her pressure because you are constanstly gasping for breath and space. You don’t want her to pin you in a corner, because you won’t escape. Tough fight, but I came out narrowly on top.”
Esther: “The first round was pretty one-sided.”
Anna: “Yes, and Leyla had owned me in a sparring session before we became opponents. We felt the need to hold back in the opening round tonight to find out the difference between the way she behaves in the gym and in an official contest. She used it to smack me around for two minutes, but that changed when I started hitting back.”
Esther: “What was going through your mind when you got knocked down in the sixth?”
Anna: “She nailed me well with that overhand right, and didn’t let me escape once she had me in her grip. I saw a lot of red leather tonight, but I fought back every time and put her under the hammer in the ninth before carrying the last engagement.”
Esther: “Are you open to a rematch?”
Anna: “Eating more of her leather sounds a little crazy! But seriously, this was a good match and it was close enough that a rematch is entirely possible. I don’t know when, but it sounds like a good idea.”
Esther: “What else is next in your career? Surely this win is good for the rankings.”
Anna: “The last couple of years have been a rollercoaster, but I think I’m back and can afford to have ambitions. I have also learned Thai boxing recently. It might be fun to have a fight of that kind. You’ll be the first to know when I have a plan! More importantly for the time being, I want to thank two people. Alesia Schumann for picking me up when I was down and Maxim Weiß for believing in me as a fighter when nobody else did. These are the two most important people in my life.”
Esther: “Thank you. On to Leyla’s perspective.”
A ton of bricks
The analyst turns to The Volcano, who is now 10-1 after her first defeat.
Esther: “What do you make of this split decision?”
Leyla: “It’s hard to say goodbye to the word ‘undefeated’ which sounds so nice in boxing. Especially when the fight is this close. However, there are lessons to be learned in defeat and it’s not like I got ridiculed in a first-round knockout. I gave Anna a big fight, scored a knockdown and felt ahead a couple of times.”
Esther: “We saw you hanging in the ropes after the final bell. Did you have enough in the tank in the last round?”
Leyla: “I didn’t feel too tired in the thick of the action, but it hit me like a ton of bricks between Rounds 9 and 10. Anna is durable and has nearly twice as many fights as I do. Experience helped her to withstand the challenge tonight.”
Esther: “Do you feel like you have accomplished something?”
Leyla: “A few things, yes. First, we have shown quality and diversity within our ranks as Muslim boxers. It’s important because we’re not a freak show. Then, I answered questions about the quality of my opponents. I’m aware that many people felt that I only took on handpicked girls but today, I went after a bigger fish and it was entertaining.”
Esther: “What about a rematch?”
Leyla: “That’s a no-brainer. I’ll probably be hurting everywhere for a week, but I enjoyed this scrap with Anna, and I want to do it again.”
Esther: “Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, this wraps up the semi-final of the evening. We’ll bring you the last fight after a short break.”
Alesia: “Victory bierchen?”
Anna: “Fuck yes!”