He felt good, strong, as he sat in his corner. Buzz was working over
him hard, kneading his legs. His eyes wandered out over the crowd
again. The dirtiest man in the ring, they called him... The Bum.
Well, what the hell, why not, he'd thought for so many years. He'd
been born into dirt, the filth of the East Side. When he was nine
life had taught him how to fight life-- with every weapon on hand,
fists, feet brains and even clawing fingernails-- after a gang of
street toughs broke his nose. with a blackjack, stole his clothes,
and left him naked in the gutter. At eleven he had discovered he had
an ally, an ungovernable temper which shot dynamite into hist hard
fists and coated pain with a dulling redness. The magnet of money had
lured him into the ring and fans such as these had poured more into
his pockets. They booed him, they hated him, but they came to see him
fight. Because when he got mad he forgot the rules, forgot he was
fighting a foe with padded gloves and was battling in the streets
again for his life. Sure, he'd been kicked out of rings. Plenty. In
California he was barred for life. But he was a good fighter, almost
a great fighter. For the past year he had stood as the insurmountable
obstacle between all comers and the title. The champion of the
champion, always the challenger but never the champ. But now he was
through as a dirty fighter.
He smacked his wine red gloves together in grim determination, glared at
the crowd. Just this one last good clean fight against Mike Travis
tonight; he'd prove he could fight clean..