A SF boxing novel that’s more about the personal battles of a man looking for self respect. Take out the SF elements and you still have a good mainstream novel.
The latest in virtual reality is here as people known as handlers can manipulate simulated boxers. Fans, known as vamps for vampires, can tap into the emotions of the fighters without getting physically harmed. Mental wounds are another story. They’re also called mind-riders. The short novel centers on Ryan Hart. He’s a former boxer who has been doing sim battles for Network shows. He was tossed out of boxing because his lack of emotions gave him zero marketability.
Paul Herrera is the current champ. He’s only lost one bout in eighteen years. It was to Ryan. Millionaire Velasco Valerian’s son Franco died after a fight with Herrera. His death was due to psychological reasons but Velasco has been out for revenge ever since. He has his bodyguard bring Ryan to his mansion. He wants him to get back into the ring and defeat Herrera again.
He fights his inner desires to get back into the ring and deals with the cynical granddaughter of Velasco. He goes through a rigorous training procedure and continues to battle his demons while dealing with various sparring partners, one is out to win at any cost, even his own well being. Then it’s time for the big rematch.
The world this takes place in is a given as the story is really a character study of a damaged man who wants a sense of honor. This is well worth picking up.