He should. He has had enough practice.
When the pistol clicked a second time, Walter Cowans threw the gun down, left it and the cocaine in the living room, and got on a bus for Minneapolis. He knew of a shelter called People Serving People, where Ray Whebbe, a recovered user and fringe boxing character, worked as a supervisor. Whebbe set Cowans up with a room and promoter Peterson.
Since that day, Cowans says, he hasn't touched crack. He also hasn't lost a fight. Fighting as Raheem Muhammud, he has won six in a row and wants a chance at the junior welterweight title. This week he is scheduled to fight an eight-round main event against Mike Evgen in St. Paul for the Minnesota state junior welter title, the biggest chance he has ever had. Of course, even if he loses, there will be many more paydays. To box, to hit and be hit, that's ultimately his lot.
"I'm like Jack Johnson, fighting all the time," Cowans says. "Nowadays, a guy goes 18-1 and he thinks his career is over. Me, I'll fight tonight and tomorrow and the next night and the next night. I could fight 10 nights in a row. If I can't get in the ring, I might as well be dead."
Now Cowans is into vitamins and inspiration and long walks in the Minnesota cold. As he walks, he thinks about Willie Pastrano, a substitute for a substitute when he won the light heavyweight championship in 1963. Or Freddie Pendleton, who took his 21-15-3 record and beat 26-2-2 Ras-I Bramble for the U.S. Boxing Association lightweight title in July '88. Opponents have their gods too.
"I'm never gonna give up hope that I can be champion," says Cowans. "I have all the credentials to be champion. I'm still somebody. If it can happen to Freddie Pendleton, it can happen to me."
With that, Cowans is off on a walk around downtown Minneapolis, buoyed by new hope and confidence. Not to mention the straight razor in his right fist.
Sometimes, you're just too tired and sore and beat up to keep the lie propped up. For a while, Schommer has beaten the truth into Torrence and Taylor.
"I couldn't get nothing off on him," says Torrence. "He was strong."
Sitting alone on the wooden bench, Taylor can see the end coming. "Jake doesn't have that go in him anymore," he says. "He doesn't have no fire.... We're just an opponent. We're everybody's test. People pay us to let them beat upon us."