There was a distant dull thump, similar to the sound a rugby ball produces when punted down field, and it took a moment for me to comprehend that the noise had in fact been made by the side of my head hitting the white canvas. The world was suddenly in an upside-down spinning chaos and the more I tried to align my vision to a single frame the more it spun out of focus and the more dazed and disorientated I felt.
I could not lift my head an inch above the canvas; it was stuck there like a magnet on metal. It was as if the force of gravity had suddenly multiplied, the earth sucking at my body through the canvas trying to swallow it, rendering my limbs impossibly heavy and immovable. Warm liquid with a vague metallic smell leaked from somewhere on my face and was steadily pooling around my head, painting the white surface a perfect scarlet.
I was suddenly shivering and, apart from the taste, the warm red fluid was oddly comforting against my cold and clammy face. But the taste of it was revolting and with my limbs being stubbornly uncooperative, I could do nothing to get away from it.
I rapidly blinked a few times, or at least the lid of the eye that wasn’t completely swollen shut, and at last the chaotic swirling subsided enough for me to see blurry faces looking at me through the ropes around the ring: some white, some black, some jubilant and others less so. T
he weight crushing my head finally lifted just enough to allow me a one-eyed glance back at my corner. There stood my trainer, and although his face was also still somewhat blurry, the disappointment was plain to see as he looked down at me, a trace of disgust also detectable. That expression on his face as he stared at me would probably have been less wounding if my trainer wasn’t also my father.