“This is it, Mitch, the crunch match we’ve all been waiting for.”
“That’s right, Bud, a fight we never thought would happen, or even should. But here we are. Weird.”
The stadium lights shifted from side to side in frenzied bursts then angled to the floor, blanketing the arena in darkness. De La Soul’s “Me, Myself and I” thundered from the speakers hanging above the ring, flexing the fans’ eardrums, pulsing the fillings in their teeth. A spotlight picked out a lone boxer under a rainbow-coloured archway. He wore a black and white silk robe that rippled like water. His eyes were masked and his head was bowed low – sweat and Vaseline smeared across his face.
The pugilist jogged down the aisle that led to the ring, bouncing on the balls of his feet. He shadowboxed – whipping ferocious hooks, jabs and body shots. The mob cheered. The mob booed.
In the ring, a microphone descended from the ceiling like a UFO and the announcer’s buttery voice made love to the auditorium, “In the red corner we have the defending champion with forty wins and no defeats, Daniel “Digger” Doozy! And the number one ranked challenger in, well, also the red corner fighting himself is…Daniel “Digger” Doozy!”
The announcer, with his impossibly tight Armani suit, the ring girls teetering on their psychotic heels and the hangers-on sniffing the cocaine that dripped down their sinuses, all dispersed from the ring leaving Digger and his trainer, Al, alone for one last pep-talk.
Al said, “I’ve known you since you were a kid, Digger. You’re a good boy and all I have ever asked of you is to give the best version of yourself, making me and your country proud. Tonight is no different.”
Digger drew in a heavy breath as Al jammed a mouth guard into his mouth and with a furrowed brow, Digger said, “What did you say?”
The opening bell rang and Digger darted into the centre of the ring, spiralled this way and that, shuffling his feet, letting his fists fly. One chopping right hand narrowly missed his cheek and Digger leered at himself. “Nice try, pretty boy,” he slurred.
The second round came in a flash and before he could get his bearings, Digger placed a punch flush on his own chin and knocked himself out cold, his body lying prostrate on the canvas, blood swelling around his left eye.
The referee began his count as Digger’s eyelids twitched and one foot jerked in violent spasms. After seven seconds, however, Digger suddenly came to his senses and jumped up like bread in a toaster. But Digger landed another crushing blow on himself and he collapsed again, legs folded beneath his bulky frame, his head cracking against the floor.
The referee had no choice but to wave off the fight with a series of frantic gestures as the fans lobbed insults at Digger in disgust.
The MC pressed his microphone to his lips and bellowed, “Introducing your new heavyweight champion of the world…and at the same time still undefeated reigning champion, Daniel “Digger” Doozy!”
In the centre of the ring there was an ageing reporter, clean shaven with tufts of chest hair poking out of his shirt, tickling his Adam’s apple. He looked carefully into Digger’s vacant eyes and said, “How do you assess your performance tonight, Digger?”
“Well Karl, I gave it my best shot but I got the better of myself.”
“What do you say to those who claim this fight is just a cynical money-making enterprise?”
“This is boxing, Karl. This is what the people want. No one can say I didn’t put on a show.”
“Digger, do you want a rematch?”
“I think I’m in a position now where I can branch out, build some golf courses, run for president. My head hurts.”
Then as if charging forward in military formation, fans from the cheap seats attacked the rich fans up front and rushed the ring, trampling daytime TV hosts, new energy entrepreneurs and motivational speakers, crushing Rolexes and flutes of champagne as they went.
“Well, Mitch, how would you sum up tonight?”
“Bud, quite frankly I’m baffled. This has been a complete farce and a damming indictment of everything that’s wrong with the state of boxing as we know it. What have we learned? I have no idea. What a fabulous night!”