It was Memphis in July, and I was home for the summer for the first time in 10 years. My best friend from high school and I decided to go to a boxing match—a whole evening of boxing, really—just for the freak show.

The drunken crowd, the sculpted young boxers, the flabby old boxers—it was smoky, boozy, and just a few catcalls short of a riot. Then there was the ring girl, who used the stage name “Xena” and was, we soon realized, a stripper. You could tell from the entourage of bodyguards in satin jackets emblazoned with the strip club logo, a thug esprit de corps. Xena wriggled through the ropes at the start of every round, eliciting a rote “Whooooooaaaa!” from the crowd. Then the calls would start up: “Show us your tits!” It was like watching a mutant inbred man-child proudly speak its first words the way the audience would belt that out with pride. They knew the ring girl would never show her tits there—you had to go to the strip club for that, which was the point—but they asked anyway because they felt they deserved it.

After the stripper, the female boxing card came up and two young female athletes strode out. They marched toward the ring, fists and muscular arms raised high, carrying their hopes lightly on their shoulders. Then the call went up: “Show us your tits!” The crowd bellowed it between gulps of Bud Light, a beer that only tastes good when the humidity and the temperature are both above 80. And sadly, the boxers did, raising their shirts and displaying their unstripper-like breasts. They did it without fanfare or showmanship, as if they were passing through airport security, and the crowd cheered, their proper place in the world affirmed. Nothing after that unsettling event was of any interest whatsoever.

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EA’s new Fight Night Round 3 doesn’t offer female fighters, but it does include ring girls. They don’t quite look human; their swimsuit-model bodies are sculpted with the care only a heavy-breathing geek can muster, but their faces are strange and off-putting. At the moment when EA expects us to go “Whooooooaaaa!” at the sight of them, we instead grimace and press the A button to skip to the punching.

As for the game itself, much of it looks amazing on the Xbox 360, except for those moments in need of more finesse where the illusion is ruined. The career mode is lame because your boxer starts off so inept that it kills all enjoyment, but the quick matches with famous boxers and the online play offer plenty to do. Unlike the real thing, though, there’s no freak show here, no frission of slumming it among beer-slamming bohunks. It’s all punching and blocking and falling down and getting up again, and that, in the end, is the game’s biggest flaw. I wish I liked the game more, but in the end it’s just boxing.