"Of course," the person said, "it's much harder than wrestling."
"Why is that," asked the blonde in her fractured English.
"Because, it requires a degree of toughness that surpasses even that needed to wrestle. In wrestling, you can wear an opponent down. Matches can go on a half-hour or more. In fist-fighting, you give it everything you've got, nonstop. Endurance has to be astronomical and you have to be able to withstand severe punishment almost without a break. In the end, it basically comes down to who's stronger, physically AND mentally."
The Russian was intrigued. She enjoyed wrestling for the glorification it bestowed on her among men of privilege, but she also enjoyed the challenge. Pitting herself against another female, using every bit of both her physical prowess and her intellect was far more stimulating than tennis would ever be. Still, fist-fighting struck her as both savage and noble. Frightening, yet strangely compelling. She wondered if she had what it took to win such a fight and quickly concluded she did!
The following morning, she made arrangements for a fight of her own. She demanded the best opponent available and among celebrity fist-fighters, the best was Danielle Fishel. At first glance, Dani wouldn't seem a likely candidate for such success. She was barely five feet tall and not much over one hundred pounds. She clearly lacked the size to overpower larger opponents, but her stature was actually a source of strength. Lacking a long arm reach, she was forced to get close to her foes, requiring her to develop a slugging style of close combat that was relentless. Larger girls were often overwhelmed by the tiny dynamo.
Once the match was set, Anna wasted no time getting a crash course in fist-fighting. She hired several pros to train her in the finer points, particularly how and where to deliver effective punches in a way that minimized damage to her own hands. More than a few fist-fighters, she learned, saw their careers shattered when a bare fist struck hard bone, resulting in broken knuckles and a useless hand. When her instruction ended, Anna may not have had the skills to take down a boxing champ like Lucia Rijker, but felt herself more than a match for a mere celebrity like Fishel.
For her part, Dani was anxious for this fight. Her small size had kept her from excelling as a wrestler, as a fist-fighter she found her true calling. By fighting...and beating...a high-profile opponent such as Anna the brunette knew her fame would go through the roof. Besides, there was added incentive in fighting the Russian; like virtually every other female in the fight scene, she detested the arrogant, egotistical blonde even though they'd never met. One didn't have to know Anna, it was often said, to hate her.
"She won't last five minutes," Dani prophesied to friends. "A couple of hits to that pretty face of hers, a few to her tummy, and she'll be begging me to stop!"
Dani, like many of Anna's opponents, assumed the vainglorious tennis player didn't have the mettle to stand up to a serious beating. But like the others, she forgot that Anna once battled for nearly an hour in a bloody brawl with Claire Danes...and won! No, the Russian wasn't a paper tiger...she had claws and she wasn't afraid to use them. Nor was she afraid to get scratched.
The bout was held in the ballroom of a Miami mansion owned by a wealthy industrialist. Nearly 300 spectators lined the walls, and still there was a vast amount of space available for the two beauties to pummel one another. Anna appeared in a blue unitard,just enough of a thong back to make the gaze of the male spectators linger on her derriere for a few heartbeats. Her golden hair was tied in a ponytail. Dani, who had carefully cultivated an image as "the girl next door" wore street clothes...a tank top and denim cut-off's. She also had a silk scarf wrapped atop her head. Both women went barefooted, the better to keep her footing on the carpet.
Going into the fight, Dani was determined to not fall into the habit of letting her natural dislike for Anna overwhelm her. Such feelings would only lead to anger and scorn, which might cause her to lose focus and make a stupid mistake...the sort her opponent could be canny enough to exploit. Yet, seeing Anna up close and in person for the first time, Dani instinctively felt a dislike for the blonde even stronger than she'd expected. There was something in the arrogant way Anna carried herself, her self-satisfied smirk and the look of cold derision in her eyes. Against her better judgment, Dani found herself passionately hating Anna and, as her hatred grew, she began to abandon her carefully-constructed battle plan in favor of simply pounding the detestable Russian.
Exactly as Anna planned.
The two girls were brought together in the center of the room to get the final instructions. Anna's eyes traveled up and down the length of her opponent's body, taking her measure. Then, with a cocky smile, the word "Aktphca" fairly dripped from her lips. Dani, not knowing any Russian, didn't know that the blonde had simply referred to her with the world for actress. But she didn't need to know the definition...she knew what it really meant. From the way in which Anna's lip curled as she said it, it was a clear insult.
The blonde was telling her, "You're just a role player...I'm an athlete."
Dani's face reddened with fury as she turned and stalked back to her corner, waiting for the signal to begin. Then, the signal was given and the two young battlers, fists raised, cautiously began to move toward one another. As the circled, the gap between them grew smaller until, at last, they were close enough to attack.
Thanks to her longer arms, Anna landed the first blows as she snapped Dani's head with two rapid-fire jabs. The brunette, her newfound hatred of her rival notwithstanding, was impressed! This blonde knew how to put real power behind her punches which only reinforced Dani's determination to pound her senseless.
With surprising speed, Dani ducked Anna's third punch and landed one of her own. The diminutive brunette's fist hammered into the blonde's abs...and hit washboard. Effortlessly absorbing the impact, Anna seemed unharmed. Dani was momentarily taken aback as she hadn't expected her to be in such excellent muscular condition. For a long heartbeat, Dani's guard dropped, that was all Anna needed!
An elbow to the face - poor sportsmanship - but hardly illegal in this fight, stunned Dani. Then Anna unleashed a barrage of punches to Dani's head and body. She had clearly paid attention during her crash course in fist-fighting for she not only threw solid blows but connected on the exact spots necessary to inflict maximum damage. Finally, an uppercut to the jaw lifted Dani off of her feet and sent her crashing down hard to the floor on her butt. The referee had Anna step back, then began to count.
In spite of the battering she'd taken, Dani was far from finished. She'd been knocked down in plenty of fights and it had always steeled her resolve and fired her adrenaline. The count gave her a break of several seconds and she took advantage of them all.
It also broke Anna's momentum.
At the count of nine, Dani was back on her feet, fists raised. Anna, with more than a touch of overconfidence, threw an arcing right hand that the brunette artfully side-stepped. The Russian was momentarily off-balance as a result, giving Dani a much-needed opening. A shot to the ribs brought a wince from Anna, and a left hook to the jaw followed bringing a pained grunt.
Finding her groove, Dani showed why she was considered the very best actress in fist-fighting. She hammered away at the taller blonde with a flurry of sledgehammer blows - a magnificent display of her controlled fury. Anna was overwhelmed by the assault as Dani seemed to draw increasing strength from the rapidly depleting energy of her blonde opponent. Dani took special delight from Anna's moans of pain as she hammered her belly until the Russian's tough abs gave way under the pounding.
At last, Dani went for the finisher, labeling Anna with a series of punches to the head to set her up, then unleashing a roundhouse right that caught the Russian flush on the jaw. Anna's body jerked awkwardly as she sprawled on the floor!
Dani raised her hands in the air as she turned away, certain in her victory. She'd put away a dozen other women with that combination in the past and she had no doubt she'd just put an end to Anna this night as well. Her offensive over, Dani's body seemed to deflate; the energy needed to wage her assault had drained her utterly and her legs buckled slightly. When the formality of the ten count was over, she wanted to jump into a whirlpool, get a massage and slide between the silk sheets that awaited her.
But Anna was determined to frustrate Dani's plans. Ignoring the pain that wracked her body, drawing strength from some unknown place, Anna struggled to get to her feet before the count reached ten. Somehow, astonishingly, she made it at the last possible second. While she seemed barely able to stand, she raised her fists and nodded to Dani to continue.
Dani couldn't hide the look of surprise on her face. Few women had ever withstood an attack like that and she didn't think the Russian had it in her to be one of them. But her amazement gave way to fear...Dani realized she'd spent virtually all of her own strength in her offensive. Her arms felt like lead, it was an effort to raise her fists in a fighting stance; actually throwing punches would be harder still. She could only hope Anna's heroic show of resistance to the inevitable was just that...a show...and that the blonde would collapse under just a few more blows.
What followed could scarcely be called a fight. No, it was two iron-willed young beauties, pushed beyond all human endurance, throwing awkward punches while desperately forcing themselves to remain upright on their feet. The physical toll was excruciating. In addition to being near exhaustion, both girls bodies were covered with bruises. Each ones eyes were swollen nearly shut. Dani had a trickle of blood below her nostrils; Anna had crimson running from the corner of her mouth. Their bodies and clothes were soaked with their perspiration. Their hands were numb from the cruel demands they imposed on them. Everyone watching knew the grotesque tableau couldn't continue much longer.
The final moments seemed to take place in slow motion. Anna drew back her right fist, then threw it wildly. Dani, leaning away from Anna's previous punch, inadvertently moved her head into the path of the blow, catching it flush on her mouth. A small stream of blood shot out as the brunette's body toppled over backward to the floor like a fallen tree.
Desperately, as if her very life depended on it, Dani struggled to roll over, to rise again. She managed to get to one knee, but she was running on instinct more than intellect. As she tried to stand, she lost her balance and fell back, like a marionette with the strings cut. A piteous whimper accompanied her collapse, as she realized her defeat.
The ten count was just a formality that brought a merciful end to the barbarism.
Anna seemed strangely energized by her triumph. She stalked around the room, basking in the cheers of the spectators, her clenched fists raised high to acknowledge her victory. But the burst of energy was fleeting and she knew she had to retreat to the bedroom reserved for her before she collapsed from exhaustion and an accumulation of punishment herself.
Yet, even as she headed to her room, she looked back over her shoulder at the sobbing figure crouching helpless on the floor behind her and a single word escaped the blonde's swollen lips.
It was an epitaph that would shame Dani for a long time to come.