Wow. That was an intense experience.
The actual fighting part - after I’d done my entrance walk to that Sleigh Bells track that no one could hear above all the drunken shouting; after I’d climbed self-consciously through the ropes and done that funny hopping and waving to my friends move; after I’d put the headguard on and the gumshield in and those massive, pillow-like 16oz gloves - say from about here, where I’m looking somewhat lost and vulnerable
Well, the rest is pretty much an adrenalin-fuelled blur.
My last clear image is when the ref called us up to the middle, to give us our final instructions and tell us sportingly to touch gloves. (“Don’t try and knock each other out here girls, it’s a show, let’s just try and have fun.” Me: Huh? WTF?!) At which point this other girl (a giantess named Nicola Something-or-Other) looked me straight in the eyes and winked at me. For some reason, I found this very vexing indeed.
But before I had time to consider an apt response, there was the bell: Round One! And this thought: Fuck, this is for real.
The whole bout took just seconds. Yet at the same time, those fists coming at me seemed to repeat, at lightning speed, for forever.
I couldn’t hear the crowd (apparently going mental) at all, but I could sense friends and family, scattered at all four corners of the ring, tense and expectant throughout. And I was acutely conscious of this one thing: ‘DO NOT let anyone down out there, by letting yourself get beaten up in here.’
It is such a surreal, lonely, underwater kind of state.
I couldn’t hear my own trainer either, leaning in at ringside, shouting strategy. Although frustratingly, the vicious braying of my opponent’s corner man was crystal clear to me at every stage. And I was really vexed by what he was telling her.
Anyway, consensus is that first round went to me. No one expected that! Certainly not I, and least of all Nicola Thingy, who admitted to Floyd later that she had underestimated me completely on first sight. Ha!
Floyd was pretty ebullient when I got back to my corner after the first bell. Holy shit, it was going well! I was still trying to catch up.
Round Two. Early on in that second I caught her so that it knocked her off her footing and she went down. We’ll call this the moment when I knocked her down. Sadly no photographic evidence has yet surfaced. But this part was my personal highlight: thank God it was her and not I who ended up on the canvas! That would have been my worst nightmare realised. Phew.
She got up from that pretty pissed off though. She looked properly mad at me. I can sympathise, I would have felt humiliated too. No wonder she spent much of the rest of that round chasing me about the ring trying to knock off my head.
She definitely picked it up a gear from here on in, and fair play to her, she had me pretty spooked. I remember mostly just trying to defend myself and swerve her ire.
Second round was hers for sure.
I got a stiff talking to from my corner before coming out for the third.
Essentially Floyd told me this:
“You’ve gotta keep that left hand up! You’re letting it drop and she’s catching you every time. Listen, she’s only throwing straight punches and moving in straight lines: step off to your right and throw that big left. Okay? You have to start stepping off to the side now!”
I have to admit I felt spent, coming out for that final round. I was dreading a whole two more minutes of punishment. I swear, that giant lady killer was indefatigable! Whereas I felt like I was running out of gas.
But in my exhausted, daunted state, Floyd’s words had somehow sunk in about this ‘step-off and throw your left’ thing. So, in blind faith, that’s just what I did. And it only worked. I ducked her jab and hit her square in the face with my counter.
She looked ever so shocked. So I did it again. And it worked again. She didn’t seem to change tactics at all after the second time it happened. Or indeed after the third.
I basically did that same move about six times in a row, punching her square in the face every time. It wasn’t exactly sophisticated boxing skills in action - I mean what I should have been doing was following with some nifty four, five, six punch combinations - hooks and uppers and body shots and the like. But heck, it was simple and effective enough to even up the terms, and actually give me the upper hand late in the round.
At the final bell, I felt like I’d just started to settle down and to tap into some confidence. I was just getting into it, and then it was all over!
So that was that. I survived. In one piece, and pain and injury free, save for a bit of a bloody mouth. And, most importantly, I’d stayed on my feet throughout: yes!
Whilst it was a showcase event, and traditionally they don’t announce an official winner of such bouts, all experienced boxers who watched said they’d have given that fight to me on points - if only by a whisker. She totally owned that shaky second, but I stole the first and the third.
Obviously I have analysed and dissected, recapped and consulted with the many loved ones who bore witness, incessantly since Friday. (In varying degrees of drunkenness and hangover!)
No two accounts of how it went down appear to be the same though. And no one’s version even remotely resembles my own experience from inside the ring.
However, the one point all do seem to agree on, is that I did really very well. That I more than held my own, and actually turned out to box way better than anyone had expected. And also that this new persona
Me, as a fighter, as a serious contender in a proper boxing match, whilst completely implausible to everyone up until the night, well, it really does quite suit me.
I have watched video footage of the action just once. Unfortunately I was intoxicated at the time. It does clearly go a lot better in there than it had felt, to live through it. Flatteringly, many people have said they counted our bout as one of the most entertaining fights on the card. Apparently we made a good match, me and this Nicola Thingy. Despite her having obviously fought before, being better conditioned, with about a foot height advantage on me and a significantly longer reach. (Dear God, but she was rangy and lively though!)
I don’t know if I really did get the better of her, overall. I really couldn’t call it. But what I do know, is that I came home that night with a trophy that says ‘Winner’ on the bottom. And so I say, screw it, I’m claiming it:
If or when this fight tape ever comes my way, I promise to post it up here, so you can judge for yourself if that’s me taking a liberty!