Ten ounces isn’t a great deal of weight.
It’s the weight of an adult hamster, or a pair of oranges. It is also the weight of a regulation boxing glove.
Not much in the grand scheme, really.
But at this moment that pair of gloves feel like boat anchors. One to each hand.
The lungs are struggling, trying in vain to suck enough oxygen from the super-heated air. The protective cage of bone around them is bruised and cracked, making each inhalation an ordeal to be endured.
It is this dearth of air that makes the gloves so heavy. They must he held aloft, high and near the chin. The rules are clear: Protect yourself at all times.
But they begin to weigh on a fighter like a bad lie, impossible to maintain. The illusion of truth. The myth of protection.
It is agony to keep the gloves up. Ten ounces of purgatory. Pain lingers like a hangover in the biceps, a missing loved one in the shoulders and arms.
Round nine. The pain is total. The word excruciating comes from crucifixion.
You are crucified.
But your opponent is in no better condition. His eyes dull, his breath a bloody rasp. His hands falter, but so do yours. It is only a matter of who drops his guard first.
Normally, it is easy. You’re exhausted. Tough workout done? Drop your hands. Splitting firewood and you grow sore? Drop your hands. Relax. Breath. Easy.
But now? To drop your hands is to invite disaster, destruction, devastation.
Because in your shared condition the consequence is apocalypse.
To literally lower your guard, to answer the siren’s song of relaxation is to meet the thing most feared, loathed, and avoided.
So you toss the weak jab to his depleated guard. You faint toward the already ruined body.
You search for an opening to the delicate head; repository of dreams and loves and fears. A blow to the head at this stage is a blow to the heart. A decapitation. It will finish him.
Or it will finish you.
He must be open. You must open him.
To show him defeat.
To show him annihilation.
Or face your own.
Keep those hands up.