I look down and I see Sorcha at ringside, dabbing at her eyes, like one of the birds at the crucifixions
I ’m standing in the corner, staring across the ring at Gary, who slaps his two gloves together. The sound of, like, leather on leather echoes around Club 92 and it suddenly occurs to me that in a couple of minutes time that’s going to be, like, my face that’s happening to?
“Dude,” Oisinn shouts up at me, a big smirk on his face, “could you not just stick a horseshoe in your glove, like they used to in the old cartoons?” I’d give him the finger if I wasn’t wearing boxing gloves.
The announcer does his bit. In the red corner, it’s Gary Blah Blah, a three-time European inter-varsities champion, whose chosen cause is a charity that helps boxers who’ve been seriously injured in the ring. And in the blue corner – I insisted on blue! – it’s Ross O’Carroll-Kelly, the schools rugby legend who says he’s raising money to build a school to teach elocution to the children of Bray.
From the sudden booing, there’s no doubt whose side the crowd are on.
I look down and I see Sorcha at ringside, dabbing at her eyes, like one of the birds at the crucifixion.
“Ross,” she goes, “it’s not too late to pull out of this thing. No one will think any less of you than they already do.”
I shake my head. I’m like, “Backing down isn’t how I was raised.” She nods like she knows me too well, then she takes off the medal that she wears around her neck – St Jude, the patron saint of hopeless cases – steps up ono the side of the ring and pushes it into my glove.
“Fooken focus,” Buckets of Blood whispers in my ear, then he shoves my gum-shield into my mouth.
Ronan, who’s acting as his second, goes, “Just stay out of the fedda’s way, Rosser. And remember, alls you need is one lucky punch.”
The bell rings and Gary comes at me like a focking fire engine. He hits me like a fire engine as well. It’s like, BADOOM! and I’m suddenly wobbling around like a drunk on the deck of a ship.
He comes after me and storts basically raining punches down on me? And literally 10 seconds after the fight has storted, I’m lying on my back, staring at the ceiling of the old Club of Love, wondering – weirdly – when I last had my cor serviced, while listening to the count.
I’m up at eight. Which is even weirder, because I don’t remember actually getting up? The referee is suddenly holding my wrists, looking into my eyes and asking me if I’m happy to continue.
“No,” I go, “I think I’ve already made my point. And proved one or two critics wrong in the process.” And he ends up saying the weirdest thing. “Get back out there,” he goes, shoving me in the back, “and at least give the crowd a show”. There’s already a lot of booing. Gary comes stepping towards me again and I end up doing something that I’m not a hundred percent proud of.