By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
Swanson breaks the silence. "She said I was an underdog," she tells Wilky. "How the fuck am I the underdog?"
At the ending bell of round two, Swanson squats on a stool in her corner, removes a mouth guard, and spits into a red plastic bucket. Trainer Baiamonte, who has a Woody Harrelson gap in his teeth, wipes her face and gives a few stern words. Her eyes are bleary, but she nods. Don't hold back. Get her.
Ding, ding. Wolfe-Fenn pants hard. Swanson looks like a coyote closing in on a tired rabbit. She is calculated as she aims.
Smack. As it hits the Texan's face, Swanson's fist sounds like a wrestling mat dropping. Her opponent looks stunned, drunk with impact. Wolfe-Fenn has the posture of a caveman as she stumbles and then bear-hugs Swanson. The referee breaks up the hold, pausing play, but Wolfe-Fenn socks her in the lip anyway. The crowd erupts into a chorus of booing. "Are we watching the same fight here?" trainer Lagerman shouts to the official.
At the beginning of the last round, the audience is hungry for blood. A tall 20-something guy in a backward cap stands up and shouts, "Make her pay, Swanson!" Wolfe-Fenn tries to shuffle away, but Swanson works her into the corner and racks up four jabs in seconds. It goes on like that for the next minute: Wolfe-Fenn runs; Swanson chases.
When the final bell rings, nobody seems sure of the winner except Lagerman, who's shaking his head. The ladies join the ref at the center of the ring. There's a pause. Then he lifts Wolfe-Fenn's arm into the air, and her fans in the audience hop. Swanson, red-faced and exhausted, takes a seat in the crowd.
Judges would later vote the bout "Best Semi Finals Boxing Match" at the tournament and give the opponents awards for the most crowd-pleasing fight. The Sun-Sentinel would report, "Swanson had to settle for the bronze medal."
Back in a corner of the ballroom, Swanson's eyes fill with tears. Her firefighter friends swarm her with pats on the back. Lagerman is still shaking his head. "You got started too late," he says. Then he leaves.
"Give me one more round and I would have stopped her ass," she says to no one in particular. Right then, a gray-haired man with kind eyes approaches. He says he's a former City of Hollywood firefighter and then hands her a business card. "If you need a job, just give me a call." She sits, grasps the card in a sweaty hand, and stares down at the future.