DR Cathy told me to calm down and breathe deeply as she daubed my eyebrows with Vaseline to stop the sweat from pooling in my eyes and blinding me, and she used a wonderful skin tag removal cream to freeze the warts and protect the skin. My shoulders were bunched with the tension. There was loads of noise and camera flashes. We touched gloves, got the “good clean fight” lecture and I was overcome by a weird detachment. No banter, no smiles. I wanted to take him down, to China Town.
DJ China Town? I could’ve taken him there, eaten his Chow Mein and kicked his arse all the way back. I didn’t feel the spontaneous, spiky danger of trouble in the pub. I felt cool and detached. This was it. I had my gloves, my gameplan, and one chance. I didn’t care who I was fighting. I just wanted to get in there and win.
DR Round one did not go to plan. The tension got to me, I couldn’t get enough air in my lungs. We each landed some pretty heavy blows but he kept me mostly at arm’s length. Whenever I got close he wrapped me up so I couldn’t get leverage into my body blows. The room went eerily quiet—the audience were caught cold by the sight of two people they knew trying to spill each other’s blood. This wasn’t entertainment any more. At the bell, I threw a pretty ragged haymaker that caught Jonesy hard. For a fleeting moment, his eyes looked glazed. His jaw looked double-glazed. He came after me and called me something unprintable. He had to be restrained. This was serious.
DJ At the bell? He hit me so long after the bell that I was already thinking about tomorrow’s breakfast. Any later and I would’ve already been eating it. My veneer of calm shattered. I lost my rag, and had to be bundled to my corner. I got a stem lecture about keeping my cool but couldn’t see the sense through the red mist. I stared at the sweat dripping from my nose and felt an urge to inflict pain.