Pete Gerrard nurtured this idea for a while - a fight between a woman and a man. The real bout, not a pretending one like the infamous fight, in which they said, Margaret McGregor defeated a Chinese guy who even didn’t attempt to punch her. No, Pete dreamt about a real bout between two real tough experienced boxers having close scores. The only odds supposed to be given to the female opponent – she should be much heavier her male counterpart – ideally, a heavyweight woman against a strawweight man. There were obstacles though in the way to accomplish this project. First of all, a sponsor should be found who would awake boxers’ interest in such a match and generously compensate the participants feeling awkward (a man especially would feel uncomfortable fighting against a woman). Then he should have evaded boxing regulations and bans.
All the sudden, Pete’s dream came true – on a Pacific cruise he met Richard Martin from San Diego, a reach sybarite who loved women’s combat.
It was decided to hold the match in Richard’s estates in Southern California. Richard made just one condition – no strangers in the audience – just a close circle of Pete’s and Richard’s friends should be admitted to the fight. The very fact of the fight should not be known outside of this circle. *) The prize was quite high – for both – women’s boxing and lightweight men’s divisions. Richard offered $200,000: 150 for the winner and 50 – for the loser. The fight was scheduled for six two minute rounds. Real judges and a referee were to search who were supposed to be well compensated.
Now Pete and Richard needed to find the pair of the fighters. The task was not easy either – they had to be careful negotiating with promoters and administrators because in case of leaking they would have serious problems...
Pete was lucky here as well – he came across with a thirty five year old super-heavyweight from San Francisco having quite good score: 11-4 (3 KOs). After a defeat last year she was unable to find a fight opponent. Her name was Maria Franco, she weighed no less than 240 Lbs and her height was 5' 9". Her trainer immediately assented. Search a proper "fly" led to Thailand where many super-lightweights inhabited. Ben Lafan ("The Hawk") was selected with weight 105 Lbs, height 5' 3" and score 18-1 (6 KOs). Although Lafan had some experience advantage over Franco, the lady had an overwhelming weight advantage (more than double).
Richard had prepared to the event extremely well. A dais had been installed with the ring in his spacious gym. Seats for judges, seconds and chairs for the spectators had been placed around it. A doctor has been invited just in case. Richard’s and Pete’s wives were among the spectators along with some their friends (including myself and my wife). Some of them where interested in boxing. Richard’s wife turned out to be quite impressionable – she was bewitched by the spectacle and watched the bout from the beginning to the end. My wife is not overfond of boxing (especially women’s boxing). Unlike these two women, Pete’s wife came to know the particulars of combat sports – she practiced martial arts herself and even trained in boxing. During the fight she made a few apt replies. I didn’t say anything about myself though. I am a friend of Pete. Early in my life I practiced boxing a little, so I know something about the sport.
Maria Franco first came out into the ring – in red calico t-shirt, beige short and tied haircut. I was so impressed by her brightness and size that I didn’t even notice the moment Lafan appeared in the ring. The difference between the opponents was striking: a big solid lady and a tiny nimble little man – perfect “Pat and Patachon”. If she didn’t have boxing gloves and athletic uniform, she would be recognized as an ordinary stout woman. Lafan too, be he casually dressed he would hardly remind a boxer. However, he had relatively wide chest and shoulders, nice “balletic” legs. Small but visible muscles were jumpy under his shiny skin on his hairless torso and arms. He looked like a twenty year old guy. Franco glaringly smiled and blandly greeted the audience while Lafan greeted without a smile and quite fiercely looked at the opponent probably making up his mind to the forthcoming fight.
I just imagined in my mind a bout between these two incommensurable opponents and tried to forecast how it would run. It was not easy – exceptionally unusual pair. I tried to imagine how I would fight being in Lafan’s shoes. I thought I would try infighting, testing how she stood body blows. If she was not good in that, I would stun her by powerful liver punches and then would finish her by uppercut to the chin. If it was difficult to break through her body, I would try uppercuts to jaw and chin. These thoughts flashed across my mind just in a second and I indignantly cast them aside – I would never fight with a woman and I was embarrassed by such thoughts… To run ahead, I want to tell what Pete’s wife thought before the bout (she shared with me after the bout). Evaluating the opponents, she tried to imagine how she would fight against Lafan. Taking the advantage of her heavy weight and long arms she would push him away and stun him with longer range punches to the head
OK, this is time to tell what happened in the reality...
At the beginning of the fight, Franco got bewildered – she didn’t know what to do with that incredibly unusual opponent – a tiny boxer, also a man. She seemed to feel felt shy of her hugeness. All previous opponents of stocky Franco had been taller her, so she automatically took a disadvantageous defensive position exposing almost entire torso – she placed both gloves at the level of her eyes. And Lafan didn’t fail to take an advantage of that. He started the bout infighting with speed – he probable followed his trainer’s instructions. He didn’t show any indications of confusion acting as if he had been used to boxing against women (particularly against female heavyweights). His trainers definitely elaborated a fight strategy based on the following factors: the opponent was double as heavy as he was and bigger in size but he should surpass her in speed, response and chin. As I thought, he tried to work as an infighter working against Franco’s torso.
So, the referee gave a signal and the fight began. Lafan bent his head and furiously worked over the opponent’s trunk. Dull sounds of ceaseless pity-pat punches to Franco’s massive body were heard. He punched her to open body parts: chest, belly and waist. Contrary to my expectations, Franco endured body blows – her viscous body sort of amortized them. Pete’s wife sitting next to the ring said: “Mary, avoid infighting – push him away!” I don’t know if Franco heard this remark but she quickly braced herself and tried to dictate her tactics – she was moving back, with her long arms ahead of her – she kept Lafan at distance threatening his head with her heavy gloves. She didn’t deliver hard punches for the time being, she just defended not allowing the opponent outfighting. Since then very few Lafan’s punches succeeded and he was unable to harm Franco. However, his attacks looked so violent that impressionable and out of boxing Richard’s wife thought the women was being killed in the ring. She shrieked: “This is not boxing, this is a murder!” Pete’s wife answered melancholically: “Yeah, just unclear who will be murdered”… Lafan attacked Franco fiercer and fiercer; he quickly shifted shoulders and pawed the ground. From the outside, this small irrepressible machine seemed to be unstoppable. But I saw that his punches actually didn’t succeed. The gong!
The second round began as a reiteration of the first one. I didn’t expect Lafan to act so straightforward, it was obvious that his body blows which Franco avoided all the time are not effective. But Lafan kept wasting energy trying to smash the giantess. He worked tirelessly, hardly and stubbornly; his body shone with sweat; his rapid punches alternated in the relentless pace. Franco kept stepping back regularly moving in a circle. Towards the end of the round, when Lafan seemed to be the unquestioning winner and Franco seemed to be groggy, a something happened in the ring, so fulminant that for a moment nobody realized what. I just heard a hollow stroke and saw Lafan crashed down to the floor like a mat-bag kissing the canvas. It was so inexpectable and unbelievable that all together uttered a deep-drawn sigh. Just in a moment, I became aware of what really happened: Franco stepped back out of range quickly, evaded Lafan and delivered a quick powerful left swing (haymaker) to his chin and then immediately dealt a right hook to his jaw. Wonderful combo! Pete’s wife turned to Richard’s wife: “So, who is murdered here?” The referee became so confused, that delayed knock down counting again. By the seventh second, Lafan’s body was still motionless. By the tenth second, he hardly rose to his feet. At that moment the gong rang proclaimed the end of the round.
The third round proceeded in a completely different way. While Lafan dominated at the beginning of the bout, Franco overshadowed him now – you would be able to appreciate her might. Powerful Franco taught a good lesson of classic heavyweight boxing – she delivered hooks, swings and jabs to the head of tiny Lafan, and it bounced like a ball. She even seemed to have mercy on her opponent. Semi- thunderstruck Lafan moved almost at random and invariably hit on the big gloves of his opponent. He fell several times and heaved himself up. Latterly, he was almost unable to defend himself – he helplessly covered his head with gloves and bore all the blows demonstrating unconscious courage. One his eye swelled. It looked like the referee was just about to stop the match. At the height of the round Franco several times pulled her hands down and turned toward the referee with a glance of inquiry. I heard she distinctly said: “But he’s dead.” She relaxed and played to the gallery assuming Lafan was finished off. Pete’s acute wife pronounced: “Don’t hurry, baby! Deal the final blow first!” The gong rang out - Lafan was saved by the bell! His trainers and seconds were sticking around trying to reanimate him. Franco was sitting triumphantly in her corner looking forward to the soon victory – she probably anticipated the fourth round to be victorious for her.
The fourth round began with Franco’s violent attack – she manifestly aimed to the desired outcome – the upright knockout. Blindly attacking, she didn’t think about defense. She probably imagined a newspaper headline: “A woman knocked out a man in a real straight fight.” All the sudden, exhausted Lafan made a flash-like move, this time directing not to her torso as he did before. He punched her to chin from below with unusual strength and precision and sharply jumped aside. Beautiful uppercut! Her head jumped up and the giant hulk collapsed. Richard’s wife let out a squeal; Pete’s wife applauded whereas my wife stood up and left the room saying “Disgustful!”… But Franco managed to get up before the fateful tenth second. After that, she acted more careful and occupied positions for defense in depth – shielding the head but opening the trunk. Inspired Lafan pounced on her trunk with decuple strength but the gong rang out.
Fifth round. Lafan habitually attacked Franco’s trunk. He looked freshened whereas Franco was in a reduced state – she defended in depth again. Lafan changed the tactics – probably he got new trainer’s instructions. Instead of pity-pat punches, he started delivering precise direct quick punches to Franco’s vulnerable body areas: liver, spleen and breasts. After a liver punch, Franco bent down and got a right hook to the jaw and then a cross to the nose. She fell down hard on the floor. At the end of the count of eight Franco stood up and suddenly jumped at Lafan striking hard blows to the head from above, while bent Lafan treated her trunk. The gong! Both fighters got exhausted – the fight outcome was totally unclear – any fortuity might turn the scale.
Sixth round – the last one. Both boxers looked poorly: a Lafan’s eye was swelled and totally closed; blood traces appeared under Franco’s nose. Franco stunned the opponent delivering hard punches to the head but soon Lafan stuck to her forcing infighting; he stung her to the body with pity-pat punches again. The opponents continually clinched which looked quite comical and amusing (due to the dramatic weight difference). The ending of the bout staggered everyone. Lafan nearly despairing of success undertook the last desperate attempt to achieve it. At the moment Franco raised her head, Lafan jumped up and delivered an accurate punch to her chin (close to the illegal “rabbit punch”.) Another wonderful uppercut! She slowly collapsed just toward Lafan, seized him by the arms dragging him down. Falling, she crushed down the exhausted opponent who was lost under her big body on the floor. Richard’s wife screamed with all her lung power. The referee is distracted again and delayed starting the count. That suited Franco person – she came back and managed to get up before the heedless referee counted ten. Then upset Lafan got up. The gong. The end of the bout! I was wondering what the judges would decide – according to the terms there was no draw. The judges and the referee took counsel for a long while…
“The winner is… Maria Franco!!!” – announced the referee and raised her heavy arm. Pete’s wife screamed indignantly: “Boo!” In fact, this was a manifest injustice! If the referee started counting as soon as Franco fell, an upright knockout would be stated and Lafan would become the winner. But you may not argue with judges. Moreover, ladies are always yielded the right-of-way, especially in such non-feminine activity as boxing…
“Thanks to Maria and Ben for the wonderful spectacle! Thank everyone for attention! Please don’t share your impressions about what you have seen here with anyone” – Richard said blandly and invited everyone to the banquet room…
No doubt, it was an even fight of equal fighters. However, due to the obvious mismatch between the opponents, a fortuity became a determinant factor in this bout. One powerful precise punch might turn the scale. Franco’s chance to win was supported by overwhelming superiority in size, weight and might. Lafan had superior speed, chin and reaction behind him. The fight distinctly proved that real female and male boxers can fight as equals if she is two times heavier him. If the weight difference between them is less, I would be under apprehension of her safety.
*) That’s why all the names in this report are fictitious and any attempt to draw an analogy or similarity would be wrong.
Exclusive of the Female SIngle Combat Club