The champion has a flying start
Underdogs and favourites meet in the boxing ring on every fight night. In the respective roles, Julia Fox is set to challenge Taylor Grant for her Lightweight world title in a moment.
The pugilistic dance starts right away. The black woman is at the peak of her powers and the challenger is known for taking the fight to anyone.
Julia gets a good overview of the task ahead in the feeling-out round. Taylor moves with the grace, accuracy and speed you should expect from the finest contestant. She does it so well that even avoiding her jab is a challenge.
Peppermint doesn’t go all-out but she launches premeditated and penetrating attacks with an advantage in speed and talent. Julia is more concerned about being lit up and burned than anything else. She avoids punches narrowly.
The white hair dye enthusiast picks up the pace in the second round. Although not intimidated by the champ’s presence, the girl from Arizona finds it insanely difficult to take control against the New Orleans native as she puts her crazy skills to work.
Denied a clean connection, Taylor goes for decoys to take Julia by surprise. After a double jab, she throws what promises to be a right cross down the pipe but it’s only masking an incoming right hook which slips behind the challenger’s left hand before whacking her cheek.
Boxing being a psychological sport, you have to earn respect to avoid being leathered into oblivion. The girl in blue is yearning for more of it after having felt Taylor’s ring generalship and influence for nearly six consecutive minutes. She has to land a solid punch to make the champ think twice before attacking.
Physical assault is a pretty good way to gain that respect. Stepping back, Julia baits the offensive before going back in with a surprisingly zippy straight left. She drops her right hand carelessly but Taylor is too busy absorbing a navy blue gloved fist to do anything about it.
Jim: “There you have it! The challenger finally scores with a clean shot against the world champ.”
Warren: “Now she has more to look forward to. She found out that, indeed, she can hit her.”
Round 3 follows with Taylor’s two-round lead coming into it, and further ring generalship to stay in control. The gap in natural talent and speed remaining evident although Julia keeps working hard to nullify it. The woman in green fights with authority while keeping her counterpart under pressure.
With less than a minute to go, the pale girl pays a high price for this. She’s thinking left hook but the champion has already figured out the move to dig with a hard right uppercut aimed at the solar plexus.
Julia grunts as the white glove plows through one of the body’s most sensitive parts.
Julia’s body shuts down for a moment. That’s enough to fall on her knees as stinging pain penetrates her abdomen. The crowd cheers.
Jim: “Rose is down! Excellent timing from Taylor Grant drops her, and a body shot like that will end many fights.”
Akane Watanabe, who is officiating her first world title fight, reacts well. She chases Taylor to a neutral corner before initiating a count. She keeps control of everyone’s position in the ring while raising the count from one to eight.
Having groaned her way back to her feet, Julia has her hands up and she’s already looking at Taylor across the ring. Akane doesn’t waste time asking if she’s ready to continue. She simply saw it with her own eyes.
Getting dropped is in Julia’s dictionary, as it is for any boxer. No one has trained, sparred and fought for a long time without visiting the canvas. The one thing that the blue clad girl doesn’t know how to spell is “quit”.
Julia knows that she can’t afford more of this mistreatment if she’s going to come close to winning the match. She goes for a daring move. She stops for a moment to invite the attack. The black girl senses a bait, so she refuses to comply.
The black-haired gal goes further by dropping her left hand slightly. This time, the white-gloved woman goes for the irresistible chin with a right cross. The white girl leans away and unloads a long left hook that smashes Taylor’s chin to some applause.
Jim: “Rose takes a risk and it pays off handsomely. Taylor Grant fell for temptation before eating some leather from the challenger.”
Without anything major happening in the next 25 seconds, the bell rings and we go to the corners.
For once, a stern New Yorker is happy.
Sam: “Good job.”
Taylor: “A compliment? I want that line on record.”
Sam: “Funny chick. Now, we know that Julia is tough. She showed it by taking that knockdown and hitting back. But you know that you have to put her away. Anything else would be a disappointment.”
Taylor: “Funny enough, she never got knocked out.”
Sam: “And Taylor Grant will be the first one to do it. Get on it.”
Across the ring, there is an alarm bell followed by demands.
Nathan: “Good news: you’re hanging in there. Bad news: that’s not enough against that freak. We gotta change things up so she can’t let her hands go like that.”
Julia: “Sure, but how?”
Nathan: “Let me see. She’s super talented and you’re workmanlike. She’s got speed and is most dangerous when using a long reach. How do we counter that in boxing?”
Julia: “By getting inside.”
Nathan: “Genius. You should be a coach. Now do it. Lean forward to the side and take the body. When you get close, stay inside. Throw lots of punches. If she can’t release those long shots, she can’t hurt you while you can hurt her. Rough her up!”
Akane: “Seconds out!”
The ref isn’t happy with coaches’ compliance.
Akane: “Come on, guys. Only boxers in the ring!”