Author : Jose Corpas
At ringside, where you could hear the loose boards under the canvas rattle like an old boardwalk, about twenty fans took their seats. They were joined by friends and relatives of the boxers, decked out in those digital t-shirts the universities tried to ban. A larger crowd was expected. It was supposed to be a return to the glory days of the 2030s. It was supposed to be a battle of the centuries.
Held on the one-hundredth anniversary of the Joe Frazier-Muhammad Ali fight, the original plans called for an inter-era pairing between today’s best against Joe Frazier or Muhammad Ali. The idea – made possible by the recent legalization of time travel for commercial enterprises – was meant to put to rest the silly arguments over which era was best. It was not to be. When the promoter traveled back to that time of wired communication, he found out Joe had an aversion to flying, let alone time travel, and Muhammad had a “thing” against “computer fights.”
Instead, what we got was superior. There are better uses for time travel than bringing back clinch-loving boxers of old. I consider that era of bruises and ringside doctors checking for brain injuries with a flashlight best left alone.
While the gimmick of an Ali match created more buzz since they announced weight divisions were being eliminated, experts deemed his “butterfly” no match for the boxed-winged variable-cycle hybrid engines of today. It’s doubtful he could even see a modern, 73 mph jab – twice the speed of 1970s jabs. And the punches, routinely measured over 2,000 psi, are double the force of any of Frazier’s. Ignore the historians – science is not wrong anymore.
Though boxing is at its lowest point in popularity, it is at its highest in quality. Ringside judges have long been replaced by eye-bots that pull data from 12 cameras. Because of the sensors that monitor force and the automatic “knockout” when a punch registers 1600 psi, brain damage has been eliminated.
Instead of the slow, light-hitting Ali, we had two highly advanced athletes in a true athletic competition. Their muscles ripped from exercise and atom-splits, they stood side-by-side in ring-center and, while smiling at their families, awaited the bell. When it rang, the champ launched his blinding fists into the air and quickly gained the lead in punch count. The challenger, standing to champ’s left, went for the “knockout.” Behind on points, he swung from the knees, each punch getting closer to 1600 psi.
Chants of Speed! Speed! Speed! competed against chants of Power! Power! Power!
In round three, it happened. With the champ comfortably ahead on points and still throwing, the challenger dipped until his left fist was level with his ankle, then launched a hook that traveled in an upside-down arch that, somewhere around his belly button, set off the knockout buzzer. The punch registered 1975 psi. Knockout.
The now ex-champ shook his head dejectedly and mumbled all the way to the showers, “I almost had him.” He would’ve “had” Ali or Frazier. In not-quite three rounds, he threw more than four-times the amount of punches they did in 15 rounds. Battle of the Centuries? The new champ put it best.
“I was aiming for 1971,” he said of the psi. “But I guess I was better than 1971.”
Yes, he was.