No true supermodel has ever fought in a Throwdown. The ones who sign on are guys like Alex Smith and Zac Taylor, models who book campaigns erratically, who don’t necessarily rely on fashion to pay the bills, who have time to let a black eye subside before they go to the next casting. Lopez worked as a sales associate at the Marc Jacobs store in New York, even when his picture was posted in the front window. Charlie, when he’s not training fellow Big Gunz to land their punches, teaches preschool. Throwdown’s organizers say that one of the biggest male models around told them that he can’t risk injuring himself right now. “But when we find the right time and I stop modeling for a little while,” he explained to them, “I want to fight. I’d love to do this.”
Tonight, Charlie’s up against a kid called Staxxx who’s known for being a wicked street fighter. A couple of months ago, when the two first squared off, Staxxx showed up drunk, dressed like a gangster and acting cocky, and he got crushed. Since then, he’s been seriously training, and he now climbs into the ring looking cut and focused. This is the first solid fight of the night: Footwork is nimble, the men duck and weave gracefully, punches land clean. By the fifth round, blood splatters the ring and streams from Staxxx’s nose, which looks broken. Charlie’s curls drip with sweat. He suddenly attacks with a fake, a jab, and a right hook. Staxxx collapses onto Charlie, who then hands him over to the ref.
This turns out to be the last fight of the evening. By midnight, the owner of the venue, having gotten wind of the fact that this isn’t your standard rave, is ushering people out with an apology—“This is really cool, but it’s dangerous”—and eventually threatens to call the cops. “That was great,” someone says, stumbling out into the winter night. “Fuck Cirque du Soleil.”