Later, back at her place, there's a paper-clip-sized crease between her eyebrows. She's drinking her dinner — a few gulps of fruit juice — from an old Gatorade bottle. She and Campfort are sprawled out like exhausted soldiers on the couch, quietly watching tattooed heavyweights pound each other on cable. Sweaty socks are tossed in the corner. On the coffee table, a purse with pink boxing gloves reads "Queen of the Ring."

Swanson breaks the silence. "She said I was an underdog," she tells Campfort. "How the fuck am I the underdog?"

Swanson has a part-time gig lifeguarding for the City of Miami Beach Ocean Rescue.
C. Stiles
Swanson has a part-time gig lifeguarding for the City of Miami Beach Ocean Rescue.
Christina Swanson is a good suburban girl. Just don't cross her.
C. Stiles
Christina Swanson is a good suburban girl. Just don't cross her.

At the end 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. He gives her a few stern words. She nods with bleary eyes. Don't hold back. Get her.

Ding, ding. Wolfe-Fenn is panting hard. Swanson looks like a coyote closing in on a tired rabbit. She is calculated as she aims.

Smack. Swanson's fist sounds like a wrestling mat dropping as it hits the Texan's face. Her opponent looks stunned, drunk from the impact. Wolfe-Fenn has the posture of a caveman as she stumbles, then bear-hugs Swanson. The referee breaks up the hold, 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 with a backward hat stands up. "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 girls join the ref at the center of the ring. There's a pause. He then lifts Wolfe-Fenn's arm into the air, and her fans start hopping in the audience. 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 them an award for the most crowd-pleasing fight.

Back in the corner of the ballroom, her eyes start to 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's a former Hollywood firefighter, he says. He hands her a business card. "If you need a job, just give me a call." She sits, grasps the card with a sweaty hand, and stares down at the future.

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