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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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[ I ]

I tasted the blood before I felt the pain. Buttnose Rizzoli told me it would be like that, but I hadn't believed him because when you're a boxer you're always hearing things that turn out to be a load of crap.

Buttnose, my first trainer, was right about the blood and pain thing, though. A left hook to the gut had doubled me over, then a right cracked a couple of my nasal bones and blood poured down my throat. The pain didn't hit me until I was getting led out of the ring by Doggy Jenkins--my current trainer--who was stuffing his index finger up my nose to stop the bleeding. "The guy don't break my nose," I said. "I go all eight with him." Doggy didn't respond, which meant that maybe he didn't agree with my analysis. � A tipsy-looking guy stepped in our path waving a cup of something foamy at me. He looked like a refugee from a Jimmy Buffett concert. "Hey, look," said the guy, sneering. "Here comes the Great White Dope."

Doggy took his free hand, the one that wasn't up my nose, and slapped the guy in the face, never even stopping. "I hate guys who wear those bandannas," Doggy said.

The commission doctor was already in my dressing room, sitting there with a smug grin, like he had known I was going to need him. He came over and started moving my nose this way and that. "I fixed up your dad the other day, Tommy," said Doc Walker, who was, as usual, offering up a serious case of halitosis. (What, he can't spend a dime for one of those little masks that cover your mouth?) "Your dad's got a cranium as hard as titanium."

"That's good to know, Doc," I said.

"Yeah, ol' Irish Paddy Cavanaugh. That's a hard man there, your pop."

"Doc, you concentrating on my nose here?" I asked.

The doc went on like I wasn't even there. "What're you now, 25? You're gonna have some honker on you when you're my age."

Doggy tapped the doctor on the shoulder. "How's it look?"

"Broken," said the doc.

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