The whistle blew. I pulled off John's bathrobe, handed it to Stan, and as John stood up I removed the stool from the ring. Half-naked as he was now, the fans could see his magnificent upper body, the triangle of 40-inch shoulders and tiny waist, and there were some whistles and applause.
At the bell John hobbled to mid-ring and planted himself there, left leg and shoulder slightly advanced, left arm partly extended, both hands chest high. His opponent circled him, faking with left jabs. John kept his semi-useless left leg planted, moving only with his strong right leg.
The sandy-haired fighter grew bolder and moved a little closer, now aiming his jabs at John's face and head. None of them landed. John's gloves were always there to block the punches, and his strength was too great for his hands to be knocked aside. For the full three minutes of the first round, John stayed on the defensive. He threw not one punch, but neither did one get through to him. The crowd was unhappy and began to boo both fighters.
The referee came over to our corner between rounds and warned us that he would disqualify John for not fighting unless he began to throw leather.
"Where would be the best place to hit him?" John asked. "I don't want to hurt him too bad."
The referee at first looked as though he were about to explode, and then he took another look at my brother's shoulders and arms.
"He means it, sir," I said. "He isn't being fresh."
"I don't care where you hit him or whether you hit him or not," the referee said, "as long as you try, and don't hit low."
"Hit him in the belly, Jack," someone in our corner said. I think it was Stan, but he doesn't remember saying it. The second round began where the first had ended, but John's opponent, deciding he'd better score some points or have the fight called "no contest," tried to move in on John. Swinging with both hands, leaving his body unprotected, he hurled himself forward. That was all John needed. His right knee bent slightly and then straightened. His back muscles rippled for an instant, and his neck and shoulder muscles bunched, then smoothed as his right fist exploded forward. The punch caught John's opponent squarely on the navel. The guy's feet came up, his head came down, and he flew backward through the air at least five feet before landing on the canvas, still doubled over.
As soon as the referee finished the formality of counting, John was down beside the fallen boxer, giving him artificial respiration. The kiss-of-life technique had not yet been invented, but the old-fashioned, prone-pressure method was good enough, and within a minute John had his man breathing. The guy had to be carried out of the ring.