He felt like he was in the middle of a desert. His tongue felt like sandpaper as he tried to wet his lips. He desperately wished he had water, but Jango Fox was going into the ring any minute now. His ebony dreads hung off his head as he hunched over, sitting on the locker room bench as his red gloves clenched his knees. He couldn't wrap his head around just why he was feeling so antsy; this wasn't his first boxing match. In fact, he just left the Amateur Leagues; he had raked in at least two years of experience and the scar under his right eye was proof of that. So why did he feel so nervous? He didn't know himself.
Maybe it was just because this was his first match in the World Wide Boxing League(WWBL) as a proper contender. His chestnut skin was already glistening with a cold sweat as he sat in his green trunks and blue-and-orange boots. The seat of said trunks had a five-pointed, disconnected star on the seat. Just as he started to pant, he heard the door knock.
"Yo, bro?! You in there?!"
Jango let out a sigh as he heard that familiar voice. "Y-yeah, Kendrick. I'm in here." The door swung open and a large man came in. He stood at 6'3, seven inches taller than Jango, and was packed with muscle. His own dreads were done in a bun. Kendrick approached, his coffee skin obscured by his gold-colored hoodie and jeans, the squeaking of his sneakers the only sound Jango could hear.
"Jeez, bro, you look like a mess." Kendrick looked over Jango's frame as he started to sit up.
A low chuckle came from Jango's lips. "Oh? Really? What makes you say that?"
"Well, for one thing, you only smile that hard when you're nervous." It was true, Jango wore a forced grin on his face. To most, he probably looked like a boy who just got a puppy for Christmas. But Kendrick had known Jango long enough to know that when he gave a smile that stretched his face so hard and clenched his jaw just right, he was on the verge of panic. "If you keep grinning like that, you'll cut your mouth guard in half."
Jango snorted as he rubbed his cheek through his glove and grunted, "oh shut up."
Kendrick snorted, "look, man, I don't know why you're so nervous. It's no different from any other bout."
"Yeah, but this is a real fight." Jango grunted, "those fights in the Amateur Leagues were just fights against other nobodies. This is a real fight, among pros. I'm a contender now and I'm fighting someone who's already won two matches by KO." The locker room was full with laughter from Kendrick, who then slapped Jango right on the back. The sudden sting got Jango to sit up straight as fire ran up his spine.
"Bro, you need to chill! You're not fighting the Middleweight Champion or something! You're fighting some other schmuck who just got his Pro License!" When the words began to sink in, Jango let out a snicker before joining in with his own laughter. "Ja hahahaha~ See? You're worrying over nothing!"
Jango couldn't help but keep chuckling as he started to calm down. "Yeah, I guess I was just freaking myself out." He stood up onto his feet, taking in a few breaths to get his heart to calm down. Kendrick could see his gloves tightening as Jango clenched his fists.
With a knock on the door, a voice called in. "Mr. Fox? Please report to the ring."
Kendrick then said, "that's our cue, bro." Jango gave him a nod, getting ready to walk out, but Kendrick put a hand on his shoulder. "Jango, when you're in that ring, just fight like you know how." He gave a light punch onto his bare chest as he said, "don't let records or experience or whatever slow you down. If you doubt yourself before your boots touch the mat, you've already lost."
Another smile blossomed on his face; not the forced, nervous grin that stretched his cheeks moments ago, but a confident smirk. "Got it." Jango gave his coach a nod before the two of them began to walk out of the locker room. Making their way through the venue's halls, it was an eerie quiet that he couldn't shake off. He's made this walk before, but that was when he was a kid. That was when he was tagging along his brother's coattails. No, this time was different, because he was gonna be the one in the ring this time.
When they entered the arena, the lights overheard had blinded Jango initially, causing him to cringe. When his green eyes opened again, he looked to see the arena was packed with seats. No doubt they were here for the main attraction, the real fight between Featherweight contenders. He was a warm-up tonight. While all these eyes would be on him, knowing that they weren't expecting much from a supposed rookie helped Jango to keep his cool.
As he began to climb into his corner, he could see his opponent coming from across the arena. Robert Knott was his name; twice Jango's age and had a good few inches on him-the bald man must've been a good seven inches on Jango, who stood at 5'8. His dark-brown skin gave a glaring sheen as he walked into the arena in his red trunks.
Once he stood up in the ring, he and Jango shared a stare. It was just a second, but for them, it felt like years. Green eyes stared into light-brown. In that second, Jango shot him a smirk. It wasn't like the mad grin from within the locker room, born from stress. No, this was a confident smirk. He was declaring his victory before they even touched gloves. Robert's only response was to continue glaring before heading to his corner properly. The 40-year-old boxer was planning on wiping that smirk right off of Jango's face as soon as he got the chance.
"The first match! Four rounds of Middleweight Class is about to begin!" The referee declared into his mic.
"In the red corner, from Hungry Phoenix Gym! Weighing in at 160 LBs! With 2 wins under his belt! Robert Knott!" Robert didn't react to the crowd's cheering, continuing to size up Jango from his corner.
"And in the blue corner, our challenger all the way from Omega Sector! A fresh face from Echo Romeo Gym! Weighing in at 155 LBs! Jango Fox!" At the call of his name, Jango turned to the crowd, giving a big smile to them as he pumped his fist into the air.
Jango snickered a bit; he figured he wouldn't get a nice reception outside of his home sector, but the crowd's sudden jeering caught him off guard. So much so that his snickering turned to full laughter as he turned his back to the corner.
"Well, you're in good spirits now." Kendrick chuckled, patting Jango on his shoulder. "Don't let the crowd rattle ya. It just means you can't rely to win on points when out of your home turf like this."
"Yeah, but don't worry. I'll knock this sucker out." Jango tapped his gloves together as he smirked.
"Alright, you two. Meet at the center." The referee called, ushering both Jango and Robert to walk over to the center of the ring. When both boxers reached the middle, it gave Jango a chance to size up Robert. Yup, no doubt; he had to be 6'3, same height as his brother. He looked down at Jango with a sneer, but Jango kept up his grin. "Now look, I want no fowl play from either of you. No low blows, no headbutts."
Once the two of them nodded, the referee continued. "This is a Four-Round match. After two knockdowns, it's a Technical Knock-Out." Once he was done, Jango extended one glove to Robert, expecting him to tap it. Instead, Robert gave a snort and turned to head back to his corner.
(Hardass.) Jango thought to himself, snickering as he returned to his own corner. While Robert continued to stare into him, Jango turned back and leaned onto the ropes in his corner. He collected his breath, letting out the last of his giggling as he composed himself.
"Boy, he sure does laugh a lot!"
"Hey kid, this isn't a comedy club!"
"You won't be laughing when Knott knocks you on your ass!"
Jango could hardly hear them. Sound left his world as Kendrick popped in his mouth guard. Once he had his composure, he turned to face Robert. The both of them took an orthodox stance as they waited for the starting bell. Jango hopped from foot to foot, getting ready to make a move.
The clock had started ticking. Jango started to make his way forward, but then he looked and saw Robert racing towards him. For such a big guy, he came in running! Like a steam train, Jango saw Robert wind up his fist for a hook. With a quick bob of his head, Jango ducked under the incoming hook.
(That would've taken my head clean off if it connected.) The thought brought a grin back onto his face as Robert continued his fast swings. Hooks with his right, straights from his left, but Jango was able to quickly evade the heavier boxer. He could feel the air pressure coming from each punch as Jango narrowly avoided each swing with his massive arms. Every blow was close, but just barely missed as Jango bobbed and weaved. However, with every swing, Jango lost more and more ground, and he didn't have much to start with.
"Fox is already on the defensive! Knott has dominated the bout right from the start and Fox won't have anywhere to run once he's put in the corner!"
With the crowd behind him, Robert continued to swing his fists. He prepared a hook from his right, forcing Jango to dodge once he saw it prepped. And yet, the punch never came.
(It's a feint!)
Jango was already in motion. Robert then prepared his left and fired a straight. It came in fast and hot. Jango tightened his guard, pulling up his arms into a cross as the straight landed against his arms. His boots began to skid against the mat as the power of Robert's fist had almost sent Jango flying off his feet and onto the mat, but he held firm and managed to hold his ground as he was sent tumbling to the corner.
His arm began to tingle; it was a feeling he never felt while sparring. It was as if his body was lit aflame and extinguished in just a moment. Was it the adrenaline pumping through his veins? Or maybe just the sensation of being in a professional fight? Jango wasn't sure, but whatever it was, it made him grin harder. He could see his grin wasn't the reaction Robert was looking for, but Jango didn't care. In fact, he relished in his fury.
"That all you got?" Jango made a gesture for Robert to come closer. He charged in at Jango like a bull, throwing another hook as Jango dashed back to evade. Inch by inch, Jango lost more ground as he was pushed further towards a corner.
Once Jango was in the corner, he was sure that he'd have nowhere left to run. However, in a sudden reversal, Jango ducked down as low as he could and made a dash forward. He dived past Robert's one-two combination and made his way inside. His shoulder pushed up against Robert's torso, putting the two in a seemingly awkward position. At this close range, Robert had no way of pulling back his massive arms in order to swing at Jango.
Robert tried to dash away, but he was too slow and Jango stood on him at this incredibly close range. Jango could see the frustration in Robert's eyes, but once his dash came to a halt, Jango didn't give him the chance to dash again. A heavy hook slammed itself right into Robert's chest, drilling into his abdomen as the larger boxer gasped for breath. It was so sudden, yet so powerful.
It was clear to Robert that this was Jango's plan. He tried to lash back with a hook of his own, but Jango could still duck under his blows just as easily as when they were in his preferred range. It was slower and had almost no power behind it. Meanwhile, Jango was able to fire off an uppercut and land it right into Robert's body. The older boxer coughed and sputtered, stumbling back, but Jango wouldn't let him escape his range.
"A complete reversal folks! In the blink of an eye, Fox has begun to land body blow after body blow at close range! Now it's Knott who has nowhere to run!"
Again and again, Jango's punches landed with the power of a shotgun. At the two minute mark, Robert's torso was covered in bruises and his knees felt like jelly. The body blows were having a devastating effect on him. Now he hardly had the energy to move at all, making him even more vulnerable.
With another body blow on the way, Robert had no choice but to lower his guard and use both of his hands to catch an uppercut from Jango. His knees buckled; Robert's arms felt like lead weights. So heavy he couldn't raise them again as Jango pulled his arm back and fired another uppercut right under his jaw. The blow left Robert as the large man began to fall backwards from the blow.
Jango had let go of the breath he didn't know he was holding as Robert hit the mat below. His body was shaking as he started to collect his breath; like he couldn't register he had really landed that blow. Only when the referee came and pushed him away from his downed opponent did Jango snap back to reality.
"Go to a neutral corner!"
Shaking off his shock, Jango began to walk away as the referee started to count.
"1! 2! 3!"
Jango started to collect his breath as he leaned his back against the corner, looking at Robert Knott. He lied on his breath, gasping and wheezing as his legs trembled.
Robert rolled onto his front, managing to put his knees onto the mat.
Pushing, struggling to get onto his feet, Robert started to climb onto his boots. He managed to prop up one of his boots.
With a final push, Robert tried to rise off of the mat.
And yet, he couldn't make it. Robert felt too weak to fully stand and with a final gasp, he fell back onto the mat.
The crowd was taken aback, but they started to cheer out into the heavens. Jango couldn't stop grinning, a low chuckle coming from the depth of his throat before a roaring laughter erupted and he raised his fist back into the air. The crowd was behind him, but he didn't care. He was overwhelmed with glee at his first win in the ring! By the time he came back to earth, he was suddenly overwhelmed with the cheering crowd as he saw Kendrick climb into the ring.
"Jango! Jango!" Kendrick pulled him in under his arm, trapping him in a playful headlock as his own grin matched Jango's. "Way to go, Jango! You laid him flat on his ass!"
"Yeah, yeah I did!" Jango chuckled as the both of them looked over to Robert, who was getting helped onto his feet. Managing to get from Kendrick's grip, Jango had made his way over to Robert and his coach. "Yo! Knott!" Robert looked over his shoulder as Jango walked over to him. He held up his gloved fist as he smirked, "good fight."
Robert stared at Jango, then looked at his glove. "Y-yeah. Good match, kid." He raised his own glove and tapped it against Jango as the crowd continued to applaud them.
Robert Knott vs Jango Fox
1 Round of 4
"Sure would be nice if we could stay the night in Beta Sector." Jango let out a groan. Having changed out of his boxing gear and into a green hoodie with a disjointed, black star on his chest and jeans. The overnight train ride was never something he looked forward to. The Magnet Trains of Mega City were like portable hotels, with single-room cabins for passengers to sleep in while taking particularly long trips across the literal megacity.
"Oi, I gotta be at the gym tomorrow." Kendrick said with a shrug as he took out his phone. The terminal computer scanned his phone, accepting his tickets. "Besides, these two-way tickets were the cheapest they had."
"Yeah, yeah." Jango followed him onto the Magnet Train with a grin on his face. "Guess its for the best we go. Wouldn't want my adoring public to hound me." He snickered at his own comment, Kendrick even letting out a few chuckles as he rolled his eyes.
"Cute. But remember to keep those jokes as just that." He told his boxer as he began to walk him through the train's hall.
Jango gave a yawn, "yeah, okay. My ego's in check..." Everything else was just a mix of roaring noises. The only thing on his mind was the feeling of the match. The heat of the moment, the sound of crowd's jeers and cheers. Even the feeling of catching Knott's punch to his hand-it all swirled in his head. It was all that he could think on until he fell asleep in his bed on the train, unable to even hear its constant roaring as it raced along the tracks.