was being rerun on the bar's big screen. Eddie pointed to it, "You know just once I'd like to see a football player blame Jesus-Christ after a poor performance...Hey mister announcer guy, he'd say, it seems pretty obvious
to me that the Lord left us there to dry...Come on!!! What game were you
watching???" The three old men laughed as none of them had ever been
painfully religious. Eddie pointed to the sky, "I'm gonna do it...What I
always dreamed of. I'm gonna become a fighter." Two mugs collided as he
grabbed them by the handle, then, he relinquished the attention.
Fifteen minutes had gone by and it was now four p.m. The three old men
were in a drunken funk, feeling good, and not talking particularly much. But, within moments, and keeping true to his promise, Eddie began to
work-out. He was in decent shape to begin with: six feet three inches tall,
and over two hundred and thirty pounds. A shy baby-faced ruffian
addicted to throat lozenges is what he was. And he was training hard: doing one-handed push-ups, many sit-ups, making military music with the aid of his rhythm bag. And he skipped rope so fast that one could only assume it was rope. He did everything, and he was improving at a rapid pace. But, to Eddie, it was quite a normal one...In a relatively short amount of time , a stranger accosted Eddie at the bar and asked if he would fight the local number one heavyweight in the main draw of this month's boxing card.
Despite Roland, Arnold and Ronald's pleading, he hastily agreed. The
tried in vain to convince Eddie that he was simply being used as a schmuck
to make his own fighter look good. But it didn't matter an iota for it was on.
Fight time had arrived to the arena and the place was packed to the
gills. Though many tried; none could spit and hit cement. Eddie gazed
at the crowd with his spine ever tingling. Finally, his thought waves created, finally I'm getting my chance.
After an instrumental version of the national anthem, the little gala's
emcee proceeded with the average ceremonious fighter introductions.
"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to tonight's main event, we hope so far you
have gotten your money's worth...Heeeere we go!...First, in the blue corner,
making his professional debut weighing in at two hundred and thirty pounds...Eeeeddie Graaaaaves!!!!"
Eddie kept on saluting the crowd while the other boxer was being
introduced, and did a few kneebends, and jumped around aimlessly
while looking surprisingly relaxed. He was solid like a rock, which was
not necessarily the norm for him; but he seemed sure a victory was imminent.
The bell rang to sound the start of the first round, and Eddie was moving
comfortably about the ring. He had dabbled in boxing a tiny bit at his high
school, but he never really had competed seriously before. All he had was a
punching bag in the basement which he beat inbetween chores years ago
back at the family farm. But, as would be expected, his inexperience manifested itself early in the fight. His opponent tagged him thrice consecutively. Eddie looked shaky, almost on the verge of falling. And yet after encaissing two more devastating blows, he counter-punched his glass-jawed adversary with a dazzling left-right combination that made the referee prove to everyone he could count to ten. There was much regailing in Eddie's corner as they hoisted him up two feet high. The opponent rose and was so disgusted in himself that he fled the scene without acknowledging the victor's skills, nor his own class.
And it didn't stop there for Eddie. Fresh off his first win, he took to
nicknaming himself "The Bartender". His next five fights were just as the
first one. The prognosticators never gave him a chance, thinking his luck
was ready to finally ebb, and yet he won all of them. Slowly, people began
to take heed. And brighter avenues beckoned the young man for he was
still undefeated at 7-0 and he would now be pitted against guys ranked
in the top twenty, guys he had seen in reruns on the big screen at Gunter's
every monday afternoon.
In bout number eight, he won without so much as being touched. In the
next one, he flashed signs of greatness by dancing around the ring stylishly
and ever so light on his feet. The crowd admired his pugilistic expertise. His
jabs were effective and constant. He'd attack and back away all the time. None
could see how anyone could stop "The Bartender" freighttrain in its tracks. He
was climbing the ranks faster than anyone before him. He was number four, and
his next match-up was with Raymond Brown, the number one aspirant to the
title held by Percy French.
For the event, Eddie had his tailor design him a new robe. It was red with
white gold-trimmed lapels. He also bought new boots. Drawn in were two
margarita glasses; justifying his name... He was wearing it with pride as he and his manager were driving along the Vegas strip making their way to the casino, just enjoying the good life under the neons, and waving at the beautiful women.
Eddie walked to the ring under much applause. With his witty repartee and
thankful mien, he was easily the fan favourite. Raymond Brown, on the other
hand, took long steps to the squared circle, dressed in a menacing black cowl.
The line on him among boxing affecionados was that of a heavy punching
southpaw with a splendid record of 22-1, whose time to shine was in the
cards. He hopped and he danced, never taking his eyes off Eddie. Nobody
seemed to hear the introductions, except the fact that they were indeed done...