You face the enemy from opposite sides of the ring. Bright lights fill the square space underneath you and reflect off the scuffed sheen of the floor. Screams from all around fill your ears and shut down any thoughts that arise in your mind. The ref raises her right hand into the air, raises the whistle to her lips with her left, and blows hard. The crowd stands on its feet and the roars deafen you.
You step and dodge forward. Hands are up to protect your face. Right upper cut! Left hook! The enemy deals you a one-two blow that cracks the skin under your chin in a wide slash. Blood pours down your white tank in lines and dots. Sweat races down your temples and into your eyes and chin. Stinging and burning and noise and pain are all that you know.
A third blow knocks you on your knees; a fourth knocks you on the floor. Fans scream and boo. You lay on the floor. Inside your head, you are shouting “Get up! Get up!” while the referee counts the last moments of the round. The pressure is on. You hear angry chanting, ‘Stay down! Stay down!’
As the ref yells ‘Eight!’, you are up and on your knees. If you are going down, you will stare the Devil down first. You wipe your brow with the back of your right forearm. You open your eyes and see the walls of your room. No ring. Nor a ref. Nor an enemy. Just you standing in front of your bedroom bureau mirror, sweating, and unable to move.
You sit down on your memory foam mattress. The box spring creaks underneath. Birds chirp outside. A TV show mumbles in the background. You lay back down on your bed. The vanquisher and the vanquished. It’s 8:10am. Muhammed Ali ain’t got nuthin’ on me, you think. You pull the sheets over your head. Today’s an inside day. Definitely an inside day.