The air was dense with sweat and the press of bodies moving and roaring to the rhythm of a chant.
Ax-El, Ax-El, Ax-El
The sound was almost deafening in the basement of some warehouse at the edge of town, but Axel felt the chant in his bones, rocking and thrumming against his very soul. The adrenaline ran so deep in his veins that he almost vibrated like a struck guitar string, and it was almost like standing on stage.
"No rules boys." The words were spoken loud enough to be heard over the crowd of people and Axel was somewhat surprised it came from a busty little blonde with a lascivious smile. "We up the ante to whoever draws first blood."
Axel allowed himself to survey his opponent. The man was bulky and a few inches shorter than Axel's 6'2", but the way he held himself spoke volumes to his experience underground. Or lack thereof. The man was stiff, on edge, and barely being held back by the fact that the fight hadn't even started yet.
He must have been new here.
The bands wrapped around his fists and the padded fingerless gloves allowed Axel to stretch his fingers, like he would right before starting a killer rift on his guitar. He needed to protect his hands, that had been Nathan's only request.
"Are you ready?"
The busty blonde gave each of them a wink before raising her arm in the air.
The chanting of the crowd stopped and everything was still, like the moment right before a bomb goes off. Axel savored this moment as his eyes took in the man he'd have to beat into the ground in two seconds.
A broken nose above thin, pressed lips that supported a split in them and a bruise right above his left eyebrow. He was favoring his left side, keeping his stance close and protecting that side of his ribs. Obviously the last fight hadn't been kind to this man, but Axel doubted this one would be any kinder.
While this man stood before him injured and blood thirsty, Axel was almost fresh and calm. He was the house champion after all. Top dog at the Coliseum. He only ever got in the ring to protect his title here because that's the deal he had with The Man. He got the cash, he got the recognition, and he got to fight only once every two weeks. It was this idiots fault for asking for the straight though. If he were smart, he'd take the three day reprieve before a Championship Match. He hadn't, and now he'd pay for it.
Instantly the guy sprang forward, intending to get his hits in quickly so his injuries wouldn't be jarred, but he was new here so his mistake wasn't his fault Axel supposed.
But it would be his downfall.
The second the guy pounced, Axel reacted.
He caught the man's punch with his left hand and brought his right hand to the man's inner elbow, pushing the natural bend of the joint and following through with his cocked elbow.
When his elbow made clean contact with the poor guy's face Axel almost winced. He was caught by surprise when a knee made its way up into his side.
Shit! The hit was hard and the pain was sharp, but Axel realized this guy maybe wasn't as green as he'd first thought.
He took a step back as the man got to his feet. He spit to the side of the ring and Axel saw blood hit the mat. First draw. Whatever the outcome tonight, Axel's pay out would be enough for the next few days.
The guy advanced again and Axel let him come. He came in with a kick aimed at the same place his knee had hit, but Axel grabbed his leg and trapped it against his rib as he used his left foot to drop the guy on his face, without hesitating, Axel was on the man.
His elbow came down hard on the back of the guy's head a solid hit that no doubt left the poor bastard's head ringing. It didn't matter, Axel wasn't about to stop. To show mercy in an underground fight was as fatal as arsenic.
The man bucked hard under him and Axel road it out, having been in this position before he allowed the momentum to run through him instead of fighting against it, but the man wasn't stupid after all. He brought an elbow back right at the apex of his buck and Axel, busy riding the wave didn't see it until the sucker connected to his already aching side and jarred him off.
Again they were on their feet but Axel felt a little warry of the man.
The crowd was gone. Axel's vision was narrowing down, his focus absolute and intense. Nothing else mattered but winning this fight.
He had enough presence of mind to hope that his hands remained unscathed, as he took an opening and darted into the other fighter's inner guard.
This fight was as good as over.