lightweight // harry styles boxer au pt. 1
boxer!harry x reader
Warnings: language, nsfw content (in future parts), violence
word count: 5k
summary: Harry Styles is a notorious boxer in London. He has been in a funk for a while and can’t stay focused in training or matches. One day he sees you. You change his perspective, and however the universe blesses Harry because he keeps bumping into you.
a/n: this is a disclaimer if anything. All boxing and medical references are sourced from google. I don’t know much about either. But please enjoy some boxer!harry because he is currently my favorite harry
Sweat was dripping down my face, my hair was sticking to my forehead and my head wasn’t in the right mindset. I kept my hands up, I was playing defense this morning.
“Harry!” My coach, Sam, barked but not fast enough.
A gloved fist swung around and smacked me in the face.
I grunted in pain but stood my ground.
“Get over here man.” Sam shook his head in disappointment.
I walked across the ring to the broody man. I rested my arms on the ropes and opened my mouth wide. I was about to get a lecture and I wasn’t in the mood.
Sam took my mouthguard out and started pouring water down my throat. “What’s your problem today? You’re not hitting a single combination, and even on defense you’re getting the shit beaten out of you.”
“I know.” I panted, “I can’t focus today, something is going on. I, I. I just don’t know what.”
“Hmm. Why don’t you take a 15-minute break? Go outside, hopefully, the fresh air will do you good.” Sam untied my gloves and pulled them off.
I ducked under the ropes back onto the carpet of the gym. Even with my back turned to him I knew Sam was shaking his head in disappointment, but I didn’t care. I didn’t have any big fights lined up for the next few months, I was just training for the off-season. He must have noticed there was definitely something going on because he never let me have anything more than a quick water break.
A few people were in the bathroom when I walked in, but they left without saying a word once I made eye contact with them.
They feared me, as they should.
I was Harry Styles, one of the best boxers in London.
Some people liked to call it fear, others liked to call it respect. I didn’t care what it was, so long as I was in the ring winning.
I looked in the mirror of the rusted bathroom. My hair was getting too long, Sam was going to start getting on me to go to the barbers. I took out the little ponytail that rested at the crown of my head, it was coming apart and this was a shit practice anyway. A few curls landed in front of my eyes, I ran my hands through my sweat-soaked hair trying to push it out of my eyes.
“Make yourself worth it!” I repeated to myself.
I stared at my opponent. His hair covering half his face, his eyes had less determination in them. The bruise on his right cheek was finally healing. He looked tired, sad, and weak. Nothing like a champion.
I was staring at myself.
Somehow, I had become my biggest competition. My mindset was all wrong. I didn’t have the motivation and drive I had when I put on my first set of boxing gloves. The spark burned out. Something was missing.
I slapped my face and shook my head. After bouncing around a few times I left the bathroom and went straight to the front door of the building. I could hear the busy London streets before I pushed the door open.
A cool breeze hit my bare chest. I walked a few feet away from the gym to clear my head. I had my hands resting behind my head as I inhaled and exhaled the polluted London air.
I looked around at the people walking past. Most of them were either giving me a weird look because I was walking around shirtless in the street with both hands wrapped. Others knew who I was and were nodding at me.
My head was spinning, I wasn’t sure what was happening. I felt like I was overheating but freezing at the same time. The sounds of traffic were making me panic, I couldn’t get enough oxygen into my lungs. Something was wrong with me.
When my eyes landed on you, it left like the biggest fist to the gut I’d ever taken. The air that I couldn’t inhale was somehow knocked out of me.
You were the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen before. When you walked past me, it wasn’t the confusion, fear, or respect that you gave me. No, you gave me pity.
I looked into your eyes and felt peace and passion all at once. There was a mutual understanding of what I was going through. Even if I wasn’t sure what it was. I felt like we were staring into each other’s souls.
I turned around as you walked right past me. Not even giving me a second thought. Why would you?
I tried to keep my eyes on you for as long as possible, but you turned the corner before you could blend into the crowd. I was pretty certain a woman with your beauty and confidence would never blend into a crowd.
I pinched the bridge of my nose when you disappeared. I knew the chances of me seeing you again were slim to none. I never had much luck in my life, except maybe boxing.
You. The bizarre angel sent from heaven above to show me pity.
I didn’t even realize pity was what I needed until you showed it to me. I wasn’t sure how you’d shown it to me, there had been nothing but eye contact.
A dreary man in a suit bumped into me. “Watch where you’re going, man.” He gave me a disgusted look. It was probably deserved after my sweat got all over his blue blazer.
“Sorry," I muttered as I walked back into the gym. Sam was sitting at the front desk with his hand covering his face. He was getting more and more frustrated with me. My practices hadn’t been great recently, and neither of us knew how to fix whatever problem I was clearly having.
I didn’t know what came over me or why the next words came out of my mouth, but I had a feeling I would regret them soon enough.
“Schedule me for a fight.”
Sam's head popped up. His eyes were wide. “What?”
We both knew me getting in the ring for an actual fight right now would end with me in the hospital. I didn’t care, if anything I hoped it would inspire me to find some form of inspiration.
“I want to fight someone! Anyone!” I reiterated as I walked up to my coach.
“Are you sure you wanna do that? We both know you’re not ready for a real fight.” Sam offered.
I wasn’t sure, hell maybe this was suicide. I shrugged, “Why not? I haven’t had a real fight in months and it’s starting to show. The fans are losing interest.”
Sam nodded, “That’s true. Maybe this will get you out of the funk you’ve been in.”
“So you’ll schedule me for something soon?” I was getting a little too eager.
“Yes, but if I don’t think you’re ready for it I’m pulling you out.” He was already on his phone, probably trying to find me a decent opponent that wouldn’t ruin my title.
A week later I was in the locker room of the York Hall. I was getting my hands wrapped in preparation for my match that evening. I could hear the audience through the cinder block walls. Word had spread that Harry Styles was going to be back in the ring tonight. People from all over London were coming to see me fight. I had an audience, now all I needed was to put on a show.
Once Sam gave me a quick pep talk and I was in my gloves I threw on my robe. I waited for my walk-out song to start. It was my cue to head out to the ring.
The song “Death May Die” began, dramatic violin blasted through the speakers I stood up straight and walked out into the arena. The crowd erupted into cheers when they saw me. I kept my stoic face and didn’t interact with the fans at all. It was part of my act. Harry Styles was someone to fear after all.
Once I climbed up into the ring my team took off my robe and tried to get my adrenaline pumping. They pushed my mouthguard up against my teeth and climbed out of the ring.
“In the middle.” The ref called out.
I turned to face my opponent. Jack ‘JawBreaker’ Jones. He walked out to Machine Gun Kelly’s ‘Jawbreaker’ a little too pretentious if you ask me.
He was 6’1 and 150 pounds. His long blonde was tied back into a bun, I wasn’t sure how he managed to have such long hair while boxing. It was nearly impossible for me. I had long hair for a few years, but when I got serious about my boxing career I had to chop it off. Jones was rather tan for a Londoner, and he was chiseled out. From what I’d seen and heard he was a good boxer too. This would be an interesting match.
The plan to win was simple. Sam and I knew I had the better cardio, so we strategized that I would go with defense and tire Jones out. When he started getting too tired to keep trying for the offense I would knock him out.
We made eye contact, tapped gloves, and started the match. There were five rounds, each for three minutes.
Once the bell rang Jones and I started dancing around each other. Waiting to see who would make the first move. I did my best to keep my distance and not let him back me into the ropes. I had a longer wingspan than him, which meant I could be further away and still land a punch.
Finally, Jones threw a punch. I ducked and spun out of the way, keeping myself away from the ropes. He got closer again and jabbed me in the ribs. I fought back, swinging an uppercut to his face, and landing it right on his nose. Blood started dripping down his nose. I knew I didn’t break it, but I’d had a similar injury and I knew his head was pounding right now.
The bell rang through the arena. I finally heard the crowd again, realizing they were there watching. Just as fast as the round started, it ended and I was back in my corner on my stool guzzling water and listening to Sam tell me to go for Jones’ jaw.
Once the break was over, Jones and I were staring into each other’s eyes to start round two. So far he wasn’t wearing down as we anticipated. His cardio was pretty decent. The round started and Jones immediately landed three punches to my side. I groaned in pain but kept standing. I couldn’t let this wanna-be boxer beat me.
I inhaled deeply through my nose, my torso ached as the oxygen reached my lungs. I landed three or four punches to his side and arms, but Jones kept his hands up to guard his face the entire time.
We were in the fourth of five rounds, and I was out of it. I barely made it through the third round. I was up against the ropes getting the shit beat out of me. All I could do was keep my hands up to try and protect my face.
I had a busted-up lip, slip-open eye brown, and definitely a bruised rib. I had to take the defensive side this round. Jones had landed enough blows for the ref to call the match and the judges to easily declare him the winner.
I threw a few here and there as we bounced around the ring, but he was landing just as many punches. Before I knew it, I was back up against the ropes. My eyes were hardly open, I was trying to keep my gloves up but my arms were so tired and sore I couldn’t raise them high enough to keep my face out of the line of fire. My knees were beginning to wobble, I was going to blackout any second.
I turned my head slightly, that’s when I saw you again. In a crowd of hundreds of people, I saw you. Everyone else was a blur, you lit up like a Christmas tree. Your eyes caught my attention like a firework in the middle of a blizzard. You looked frightened but the concern and pity were screaming at me through your dilated pupils.
I don’t know how, but I felt an adrenaline rush kick in. I threw punch after punch right into Jones’s face.
Make yourself worth it!
With my mantra in my head, and you in the crowd I knew I had to finish off ‘Jawbreaker’. I flipped us, he was backed up into the corner against the ropes and I was slamming my gloves into his face, really going hard on his jaw again and again. The ref stepped in and pushed me off Jones.
I gave them a little space while the ref gave him his eight-second stand. When the ref yelled six, Jones fell to the floor. His knees gave out and his head crashed against the mat.
The crowd went wild and started screaming. There were chants of my name and boos from every corner. I went back to Sam, he took out my mouthguard and untied my gloves. Once my hands were free he had me follow a pen with my eyes. It was harder to stay focused on the pen than I cared to admit, but it wasn’t because my head was pounding from the beating I’d endured. It was because you were somewhere in the audience and I had to find you.
I’d won. Even in my darkest months I still had some grit in me. Perhaps it was only because my eyes somehow found yours in my weakest moment, or maybe it was the fighter in me finally resurfacing. The moment I thought I would end up on the mat with a concussion I ended up getting my arm lifted into the air and called a champion.
The title ‘Best Boxer in London’ still rang true.
I ran into the locker room, not bothering with any post-fight interviews or fan interactions. I wanted to get okayed by the paramedics, get showered, and get into the crowd to find you. I had to find you.
My legs were bouncing up and down while the paramedics cleaned up my cuts, and stitched me up. They took a look at my ribs and told me to take it easy for the next few days. My eyes were fine but I did have a gnarly black eye forming on my right eye.
The paramedics finally left, it had taken everything in me to let them take their time with the stitches and checking for a concussion. I flexed my hand muscles and frowned at the light purple bruising on my knuckles. Once I was alone in the locker room I stripped and limped into the shower. The hot water seared against my aching muscles, but I had a feeling this would be the only warm shower I had until I was able to get back into the gym.
Once the water ran clear again and was no longer slightly red, I hopped out of the shower and dried myself in record time. I was dressed in a hoodie and sweatpants, and back in the arena before Jones left the ring. He still had doctors looking at him.
The number of people still in the arena dwindled significantly from when I had won. I could only pray that you hadn’t left yet. Maybe with some grace from God, you would be waiting out the traffic of leaving York Hall.
I scrambled through the groups of people congregating together. I couldn’t describe you to anyone, I didn’t know your distinct features. All I knew was that when I saw you, I would know it was you.
I looked and looked, but you were nowhere to be found. I sighed through my nose and dragged my feet back into the locker room to grab my bag.
“Awesome job Harry, I don’t know how you managed to pull through in that last round. I was certain Jones was going to knock you out.” Sam pulled me in for a hug.
I wrapped my arms around him and patted his back then released him. I went to my locker and grabbed my duffle bag. “I had a random burst of energy I guess.” I shrugged and left the room before Sam could ask me any more questions.
I’d won a fight when I was at my weakest. Normally all I wanted to do was go get my earnings and spend most of it at the bar or club to celebrate. Today, I just wanted to find you. I wasn’t sure why you were so important, or why you had such an impact on me, but I needed to find out. I was determined to find out.
I went to the back office where I found myself at the end of every match. The bright lights in there burned my sensitive eyes. Inside the ring, the light was bright but the rest of the arena was pretty dark. I only ever focused on my opponent, the light was never an issue.
“Styles! Congrats man, that was an epic fight.” Jeremy, the owner of York Hall (and also the guy who organized all these matches) greeted me as I opened the office door.
I nodded, “Thanks, Jeremy.”
The tall skinny man stood up from his desk, “You know you brought in quite a fanbase tonight.” He picked up a thick white envelope and handed it to me, “There’s your cut. $1500.”
“$1500? I fucking won man, that fight was worth $2000 easy.” I threw my only good hand up in the air, “I knocked out ‘Jawbreaker’!” I raised my voice but added a sarcastic flare to Jones’ stage name.
Jeremy only shrugged, “I don’t know what to tell you, Harry. The business has been slow lately. Maybe it’s time to find some other way to make money if this isn’t enough for you.”
I grabbed the envelope, stuffed it into my hoodie pocket, and left the office before I did something I would regret.
I was fuming when I went down the stairs. I needed to get out of York Hall. This day had been a complete shit show, and on top of it all, I was getting paid absolutely nothing. Not to mention I had rent due, and Sam was expecting his next paycheck soon. $1500 wasn’t going to cut it.
I huffed as I pushed the doors open and walked out into the dark and muggy London nightlife.
“Took ya long enough.” A voice called out.
“Excuse -” I began to yell but clamped my mouth shut when I turned and saw who spoke. It was you.
You were leaning against the street lamp post on the corner. You were wrapped up in an oversized black trench coat, and your hair fell perfectly at your shoulders.
“Excuse me?” I finished the phrase and started walking closer to you.
“Knocking him out in the fourth round, when you should have knocked him out at the beginning of the third. Your head is out of the game, Lightweight.” You stated matter-of-factly.
“Lightweight? Is that meant to be some kind of insult?” I mused.
You shrugged, “What do you think?”
What did I think?
Only that the universe really thought I deserved something good in my life right now, because I was standing less than a foot away from the girl that had been stuck in my mind since the day I first laid my eyes on you.
I cleared my throat, “Have we met before?” It was a trick question, one you shouldn’t know the answer to. I wasn’t even sure if I knew the answer. We’d never officially met, I’d just been seeing you in my mind over and over again.
“Not officially.” You shook your head. “I’m y/n, y/l/n and I already know who you are. The infamous Harry Styles ‘Best Boxer in London’.” You used finger quotes on the last half of my name.
“What’s with the finger quotes?” I mimicked your actions.
“The best boxer in London should have knocked ‘Jawbreaker’ out in the third round. Not gotten his ass handed to him before a weak knockout at the end of the fourth.” You explained.
My lips formed a thin line, as much as I hated to admit it (even to myself) you were right. Sam worked hard to make sure I was guaranteed a win, but I almost lost.
“How do you know so much about boxing, y/n?” I tried out your name for the first time. It felt good rolling off my tongue. It was a beautiful and eloquent name for a beautiful and graceful woman. Very fitting.
You shrugged your shoulders nonchalantly, “I’ve been in the ring here and there.”
“I’d love to see you in action sometime,” I smirked.
“I suppose something could be arranged.” You stepped out into the street and lifted your arm in the air. Hailing a taxi. When a small black taxi pulled off and stopped you opened the door. “If we meet again, Lightweight.”
The taxi door slammed after you climbed in. I had a pit in my stomach when I watched the taxi drive off into the night. My initial thoughts were that I’d never see you again, but I’d thought the same the first time I saw you. Then against all odds, I somehow spotted you in the crowd at my weakest moment in the match; and I bumped into you while you were waiting for a taxi. I had a feeling I would see you again when I least expected it.
I didn’t see you again. Not for a long time. The morning after my fight with Jawbreaker every headline read something along the lines of:
JawBreaker gets his Jaw Broken by Harry Styles the Best Boxer in London
Sam called me and was freaking out. Apparently, I broke Jones’ jaw during the knockout. The media went crazy, and I was blowing up on the internet. I took the next two weeks off to recover - doctor's orders.
When I finally was able to go back to the gym Sam had me doing press and interviews instead of training. He kept telling me I had to have a name in the media to have fights to train for. I understood what he meant, but I had become a local celebrity overnight. I couldn’t even go into a local coffee shop without someone asking for a photo or autograph.
I’d come up with the tough scary guy persona to avoid this. I didn’t want to interact with people. I absolutely loved my fans, but most of these people weren’t boxing fans. They saw my knockout on social media somewhere and thought it was cool. They were not real fans, they were the trend followers.
After a month of not being in the gym, I finally had to sit Sam down and tell him he had to start doing what I paid him to do. Train me. He agreed and got me in the gym the next morning.
I spent another few months doing the most intense training of my life. Not to mention I now had a fight every other week. These random guys kept showing up at York Hall telling Jeremy that they could beat me.
They were easy fights, and they kept the cash coming in. I hadn’t had this many zeros in my bank account since I went bankrupt in college. Only this time, there was no negative sign.
I was in the best shape of my life, and my head was finally getting back in the game. I did everything I could to keep myself busy. When I wasn’t busy, I would start to think and get in my own head. That’s how I got to my dark place only months before.
Today I was finishing up my last set of weights before ending my workout with a quick sparking session with one of the gym’s trainers.
Once I put all the weights away properly and wiped the sweat off my neck and hands I went upstairs to the ring. When I got up there I heard a sparring match in progress.
Two women were in the ring. I couldn’t see much of their faces. Only what they were wearing and their skill. The faster and more agile girl wore a black sports bra and matching black shorts. She was able to throw a lot of punches, but the ones she did land were weak.
I started watching her opponent. She wore a white sports bra and lavender shorts. She was stronger and preferred to throw perfect punches. She landed every punch she threw. Overall the two of them were good boxers. I was impressed with what I’d seen.
Sam was a few feet in front of me watching. I closed the distance between us and crossed my arms across my chest. “Who are they?” I asked.
“Hannah Lee, and y/n y/l/n. They’ve been practicing here once or twice a week for a month now. They said it was just a fun workout, but I think with some serious training they could really be something.” Sam explained as he watched the match.
y/n y/l/n. There was no way. I knew you mentioned you’d been in the ring before, but seeing this sparring match. This was different.
“Did you say y/n y/l/n?” I asked as nonchalantly as possible. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but the chances of someone with the exact same name as you sparring in the same gym as me were almost 50/50.
Sam nodded. “Yeah, you know her or something?”
“Not really. We met once, at the ‘Jawbreaker’ match. She called me Lightweight.” I smiled as the memory of you insulting me ran through my head.
“Sounds like y/n.” Sam chuckled.
Did he know you? Had you been right under my nose all these months and I’d been too self-centered to notice? Would you even want to talk to me? Was I worthy of you?
Make yourself worth it!
I reminded myself of my mantra.
Sam and I watched in silence as you and Hannah finished up your session. You ducked under the ropes, someone I didn’t recognize untied your gloves. Once your hands were free you grabbed a water bottle and downed it.
Sam walked up to you and started making a conversion, I stayed by the stairs. There was a pit in my stomach from just thinking about talking to you again. I wasn’t sure how it would go, I didn’t even know what I would say.
“Lightweight.” Your voice could bring me out of trance, but your voice calling me - even if it was that horrible nickname - was enough to end my life.
“Really? You coulda picked any name and you went with that one.” I quickly shook my head in disappointment while trying to keep my cool. I blinked a few times and refocused on reality.
You were standing in front of me, unwrapping your hands. This was the closest I’d been to you in decent lighting. Your eyes were still as electrifying as the last two times I’d stared into them. You had the kind of eyes that made people feel like you were peering into their souls.
Your eyes remained focused on the white tape you were unwrapping as you spoke, “Lightweight suits you,” you shrugged your shoulders.
“Long time no see. Looks like you finally got to see me in action.” You quoted my eager words to watch you in the ring months ago. “I figured I’d be running into you soon enough. This is where you train, no?”
“Yeah, it is.” I wasn’t sure what else to say, I was still stunned that you were here and even more so speechless that you were more than decent at boxing.
Words started tumbling out of my mouth before I could filter them. “When you said you’d been in the ring here and there I didn’t realize you really knew your way around the ring.”
You kept your head down but I could still see the small smile that grew on your face. “Maybe if you weren’t so busy being a hotshot media magnet you would get your ass back in the ring and train with the rookies.”
You’d noticed that I had been properly training in the last little while. Maybe you’d be able to convince Sam that I needed time working on combinations for matches, instead of working in front of cameras for the press.
I threw my hands up in the air dramatically, “You hear that Sam? I need to get back into the ring with the rookies!”
“Cut him some slack, you’re not his only client ya know.” You defended my coach.
“Wait, is- is Sam training you for a match?” I asked with a little too much enthusiasm.
You nodded, “I have a really small one this weekend, if you’re not too busy being ‘the Best Boxer in London’ you should swing by.” You used finger quotes for my title again. “It would be really motivating to have a ‘pro’ there.”
“What is it with you and your finger quotes when it comes to my skill?” I rolled my eyes.
You picked up a small duffle bag from the floor and walked past me towards the stairwell. “Buy me a smoothie and maybe I’ll tell you.”
74 notes · View notes