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'Twas the Fight Before Christmas
Jack McCallum
December 26, 2005
A high-wire experiment in sports fiction, written in nine chapters, sequentially, by nine SI authors, wherein a fast-fading pugilist suddenly finds himself in the bout of his life. Read on....
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December 26, 2005

'twas The Fight Before Christmas

A high-wire experiment in sports fiction, written in nine chapters, sequentially, by nine SI authors, wherein a fast-fading pugilist suddenly finds himself in the bout of his life. Read on....

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Sounds echoed through the hallway. Howie Herbert was watching The Honeymooners in 6-B. Charo was teaching her parakeet to sing "Yo No Soy Marinero" in 6-C. The Urwins in 6-D were arguing over the toilet lid. The Cavanaughs were discussing patricide out in the corridor.

Pop grinned and walked toward me. "You studied the Greeks in school, didn't you? Got your new ring name for you. Eddie Pus." He cackled. "Just don't get carried away. Keep your paws off your ma."

Then he did something he'd never done before--he kissed me--and walked away.

[ V ]

THE DAYS BEFORE THE FIGHT WERE passing with the speed, if not the ease, of a kidney stone. In all my other fights it had been so simple. A few weeks out, some gravel-voiced promoter would call Doggy to say he was staging a card and needed a walkaway fight. Doggy'd tell me what weight I needed to make, what I'd get paid--usually 100 bucks a round plus a "bleeder's bonus" depending on how much plasma was off-loaded that night. I'd do some push-ups in the morning before going to the construction site, stop in the gym after work and try my best to forsake fried food, amber-colored liquids and Cheryl Sue. Fight night, I'd show up, have Doggy wrap my hands, knock off a few Hail Marys in my dressing stall and then go out and try to be the star in a telethon of pain. End of story.

This time everything was different. I was getting a crash course in the thermodynamics of hype. Interviews. Press conferences. Photo ops. Those damn cameras popping up everywhere like prairie dogs. Considine called me all the time to "check in on the champ," as he always put it.

"Hey, Tommy Gun, you know how you can tell if a fight is big time?" he had recently asked me.

"No. How?"

"It gets its own nickname. And we got one for yours."

"What's that?"

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