It seemed au fait accompli. For the first time since these fights had commenced, Josh had been defeated. He'd met his match against the Italian Stallion who had escalated the friendly grapples to a new level of win-or-die.
Josh was pinned to the ground, arms extended at 90 degrees to his body, rendering them helpless. He seemed scarcely conscious after the sleeper choke that he'd barely escaped from. Silvano's weight pressed down on him, sandwiching him against the floor.
I watched with eyes as large as my erection. I wanted Josh to win so badly, but couldn't help being taunted by his domination.
"Give?" Silvano asked again.
"No!" Josh said through gritted teeth.
Silvano bounced his body on Josh, slamming their chests together to wind and humiliate him further.
Josh grunted and strained but still he couldn't move. His whole torso was pinned just as firmly as his arms.
Silvano stared down on Josh, their faces only an inch apart. I half expected him to kiss Josh as he maintained the eye contact to further spook his opponent. Josh's panting was decreasing though and as Silvano focused on keeping him sandwiched to the floor, Josh suddenly twisted his legs around the outside of Silvano's and snapped them together. Without his legs opened wide, Silvano lost his leverage. Josh rocked his body sideways, sending Silvano off-balance.
Josh used his upper body strength to complement his lower body maneuver, forcing Silvano to slide off his chest until he could flip their bodies over. With their hands still clasped, Josh pinned Silvano to the ground, but the Italian ripped an arm free, grabbing Josh by the throat.
Jerking away instinctively, Josh rolled to the ground as Silvano forced himself on top again, strangling Josh. Gagging for breath, Josh lashed out with a punch to the ribs, sending Silvano jerking off to the side. Josh threw him off completely and forced himself to his knees.
The duo faced each other on an even keel for the first time, both on their knees, their broad chests heaving. Silvano lunged, grabbing Josh on the shoulders and squeezing hard. Josh cried out and dropped backward, hitting the floor as Silvano landed on top of him. He kicked out, knocking Silvano over and rolling on top of the Italian. Silvano maintained his grip and squeezed hard on Josh's pressure points, forcing him down once more.
The agony was so great that Josh screamed in silence, his face contorting without sound. Silvano released the grip and straddled Josh, slamming a fist into Josh's face. The blow knocked Josh for six, breaking the final rule of these 'friendly' matches. Josh lay there stunned as Silvano wrapped his grip around Josh's throat. Josh gripped Silvano's wrists, unable to pull them off and I could see the pressure building as the oxygen drained from Josh's face.
Around me, the guys watching were on edge, unsure if they should leap in and break up the fight but like me, they held back, uncertain of how far to let the brawl go and seeing that it was nearly over anyway. I knew I should stop the fight. As the referee, Silvano had stepped beyond the boundaries of allowable moves, but I was equally mesmerised and horrified, unable to do anything but watch.
I was sure Josh was gone as Silvano's assault moved beyond wrestling into the realms of a street fight. Stunned from the blow, Josh lay underneath Silvano gagging and clawing fruitlessly at the strangulating grip. He kicked up, ramming his knee into Silvano's back. It did little good, merely jolting Silvano a little without altering his grip.
Josh tried again, then a third and forth time. By the fifth knee, Silvano has shifted to a more upright position to balance better. Josh kicked up with a straight leg this time, the bridge of his foot whacking into the back of Silvano's head. He caught the Italian off guard and Josh ripped away the fingers around his neck and swung a punch sending Silvano sailing off him.
Josh staggered to his knees rubbing his throat and wheezing for breath, only to find Silvano was already up and waiting for him. Silvano swung a punch and Josh ducked out of reach, returning the favour with an upper cut that I was sure must have cracked a few teeth.
As Silvano hit the ground, Josh wasted no time laying into him, mirroring the crippling move Silvano had used on him. He landed on Silvano with an elbow to the gut. As the Italian rolled over, doubled up, Josh sat on his back and pulled his arms up behind him. Silvano yelped, cursing in his native tongue. His reddened cheek pressed into the floor and his shoulder muscles bulged as Josh rode him like a motorbike, using his extended arms as the handlebars.
There was nothing Silvano could do but lay there and take it, which he did for what seemed like an eternity. Like Josh, he refused to give up, but there's only so much pain the human body can take. Josh was relentless, holding him in place, slowly increasing the pressure to force a submission. He looked drained from the fight and I could tell he had no intention of changing his grip and giving Silvano a chance to get the upper hand again.
Behind me, the guys had begun stomping and clapping in unison, chanting "Give! Give! Give! Give!" If they were behind Josh any more, it would have been sexual! Still Silvano held on, legs kicking out to empty air when he couldn't force himself onto his knees. The longer he strained, the more strength I saw return to Josh. His breathing was normalising and he no longer looked ready to pass out.
"You went too far, my friend," Josh said. "This was only supposed to be a friendly grapple, not a street brawl."
"That didn't stop you winning," Silvano spat, wiping away a drop of blood from the corner of his mouth before taking Josh's hand. "It was a good fight." They were the right words to say but the look of embarrassment on Silvano's face made me suspect he wasn't the gracious loser he made out to be. I had no doubt he'd be wanting a rematch some time soon.