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The boxing training ground called Garden was located in the old town at a corner that usually went unnoticed. Below it was a store that sold second-hand sporting goods. The shophouse was still in its original brick-and-tile structure like the other shops in the old town, and the mottled walls looked like it had been there since forever. The neon sign hanging in front of the window wasn’t on. They were not sure if the owner turned it off to save electricity, or it was just broken. Fortunately, the lights from the window proved the training ground was still open for business.
Zhang Heng and Leah walked up the stairs to the second floor of the sports shop, where the unmistakable sound of punching bags got louder louder. Two ripped men without shirts were drenched in sweat. There was someone skipping on a rope, and another man lefted dumbbells. On the side, a group of children sat on the ground, paying attention to a teacher of some sort. He was an old man with greying hair and looked like the person in charge of this training ground.
The group of what seemed to be eight or nine-year-olds focussed intently on what they were doing, ignoring Zhang Heng who had just entered the grounds. However, Leah’s beauty caused the man who was lifting the dumbbells to look at her twice.
“My brother is not here,” Leah whispered to Zhang Heng
Zhang Heng nodded. For now, he was not in a hurry. So, he stood there and waited patiently
out 15 minutes. The grey-haired coach showed the kids a punching routine and let them practice on their own. He then walked towards Zhang Heng and Leah.
“Can I help you?” the old man gestured politely as he put his hands together.
“We are looking for someone,” Zhang Heng said, “but it seems he’s not here.”
“Then I’m afraid I can’t help you,” The old man turned around and returned to teach the group of children again.
“Wait, are you Catholic?” Zhang Heng took out the leaflet he received outside the monastery.
The old man grabbed the leaflet and glanced at it. After a while, he returned it to Zhang
“Sorry, I don’t believe in religion,” he replied as he shook his head.
“My apologies for the disturbance.”
Zhang Heng put the leaflet back in his pocket and was about to leave. Unexpectedly, one of the muscular guys stopped hitting the punching bag. He pointed at Zhang Heng, then pointed to the boxing ring beside him.
“He wants to fight you,” the old man frowned.
“I’m sorry. I haven’t done any boxing before,” Zhang Heng declined politely, then looked to Leah.
“Let’s go,” he went on, wasting no time and prepared to leave.
The ripped man was displeased when he saw this. At that, the old man sighed and spoke again, “He may know where the person you’ve been looking for is.”
“Sorry, is he a mute? Can’t he speak for himself?” said Zhang Heng as he turned around to look directly at the ripped man.
The ripped man seemed to understand the word mute. His expression changed immediately, and he appeared even more unhappy. He then thumped his chest with his gloved hand, before looking at Zhang Heng with a provocative stare.
Several other people in the training ground also noticed the tension in the air and stopped what they were doing.
“I don’t know the rules of boxing very well,” Zhang Heng said.
“It doesn’t matter, you can use whatever fighting skills you are good at, or you can even use weapons if you wish to.”
“Who can lend me a knife?” Zhang Heng asked. The folding knife he always used couldn’t be brought out of the parallel quest.
“Are you fine with a steak knife?” “Yeah.”
Zhang Heng then borrowed some tape and wrapped it around the knife.
After seeing what Zhang Heng did, a scornful smile surfaced on the ripped man’s face, laughing at the young man as if he was doing something useless. Even if Zhang Heng was holding a Tang Dao, there was no way he would be able to hurt him, let alone a steak knife.
“Wait, you will thank me for wrapping the knife with the tape,” Zhang Heng said.
The old man tried to pass Zhang Heng some protective gear, to which he only rejected. He took off his suit and handed it over to Leah. After that, he entered the ring with the muscular man.
Zhang Heng’s opponent seemed amused by his sparsely he was equipped. Seeing how his opponent was dressed so lightly in only a shirt and a pair of trousers, the ripped man moved his limbs slightly, too lazy to even put up a proper defensive posture. The muscular man then taunted Zhang Heng with a finger, signaling for him to start the fight.
However, his pupils contracted in the next moment. He still thinking about whether to use an uppercut or straight punch and how much strength needed to defeat Zhang Heng without killing him when something didn’t seem right. Before he managed to throw any punches, he saw Zhang Heng move suddenly.
The muscular man was in no way weak. He had been an amateur boxer for three years and participated in many boxing matches with opponents of varying experience. This was his first time encountering someone with such a swift reflex.
While he was still putting up a hooking posture to provoke Zhang Heng, the tip of the steak knife in Zhang Heng’s hand flashed before his eyes. It happened in a split second, and his eyes would have been sliced to oblivion if he had only moved two centimeters forward.
Nobody expected the battle between dragon and tiger to come to an end in less than a second. Zhang Heng had moved so quickly that those people around him didn’t have the time to be surprised.
“Did I move too fast? Does it count?” Zhang Heng withdrew his hand, “Why not you try this time?”
The muscular man wiped the sweat from the tip of his nose. After Zhang Heng’s strike, he finally lost his calm and disregard that he had before. He instantly mucked up, becoming more alert as he knew he wasn’t dealing with an easy opponent. Despite the odds, he was also confident in his strength, and once he got serious, he knew he still had a good chance to defeat Zhang Heng.
As the thoughts coursed through his mind, the muscular man finally began to move around. To prevent Zhang Heng from attacking him like before, he made sure a good distance seperated them. He then carefully tested Zhang Heng’s rhythm by shaking his shoulders. It was what he would usually do when he faced a powerful enemy.
On the other hand, Zhang Heng did not respond to what he did. Instead, he just stood quietly in place.
After the muscular man tested his opponent for a while, he became embarassed after seeing Zhang Heng’s reaction. Every time he made a move, he would imagine a way Zhang Heng would counter his attack. He would then come up with a defensive move based on the scenario in mind. As a result, he kept on freaking out like a silly goose for a long time. On the other hand, Zhang Heng hadn’t made a single move yet.
The muscular man realized he could no go on like this. He had to attack. While thinking about this, the muscular man finally took his first step and threw his right fist at Zhang Heng. At the same time, Zhang Heng made a move as well. He leaned back a little to dodge the punch. Immediately, the muscular man pulled a second punch at Zhang Heng! This time he chose to attack his opponent’s chest, but Zhang Heng still managed to dodge it easily.
After the two calculated maneuvers, the muscular man threw away whatever strategies he had in his head and just started punching Zhang Heng nonstop with his fists. However unbelievable it may sound, Zhang Heng once again dodged the man’s hurricane-like attacks.
A look of surprise flashed through the eyes of the old man as he watched the battle. It was his first time witnessing a man with such quick reflexes. Even a professional boxer wouldn’t perform on the same level. This was not something that could be achieved by theories alone. It required a lot of practical experience.
“Are you done with your attack? If you are done, I’ll take a shot next,” Zhang Heng finally spoke up after avoiding countless strikes from the muscular man.
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