Lloyd Honeyghan has had to bite his lip many times. Too many if the truth told. Whether it's those boxing writers back home who laugh at his title of 'ragamuffin man' like it's some cartoon term. He's had to put up with shit like that for years. He's used to it by now, but at least on the other side of the Atlantic they respect his talents. Here in America it's different. The champ versus the chump he's heard some are calling it. They haven't even had the good grace to call him an underdog. Just another British boxing corpse waiting to be dispatched in the early rounds by their American golden boy. That fighter is Don Curry. 'The Cobra'. Pound for pound the greatest fighter in the world according to some. Unbeatable. The sense of smugness and self contentment is everywhere.
Lloyd's sensed it in the champion too. At the press conference, Curry couldnt hardly be bothered to even look at him. He'd rolled his eyes at the suggestion his world title was on the line at one interviewer. The confidence of a champion at the peak of his game perhaps but Lloyd had felt something else sat next to him. A looseness. As if something was missing. Fighters needed to be fine tuned in the heat of battle. They needed murder eyes. Curry seemed bored. It was a chink to be exploited Honeyghan figured. And he already knew how to exploit it.
The spirit of the ragamuffin. All those months of cold water graffiti spraying out muscle and sinew on cold roads and heavy bags back home. He summoned it up now, walking to the ring. The power of Ja in his bandaged fists. He felt as though he could break through walls. He couldn't wait to get to Curry. The bell couldn't come soon enough. Past the scattering of Union Jacks. Across the top rope. He cast an alligators eye at the champion. He thought he saw him flinch. Like he was almost afraid what was coming.
And it did come, like a beautiful sporting whirlwind. For the first two rounds Lloyd feels himself walking through Curry's slickness like he's mugging a ballroom dancer in sequins. He feels the champions jab, his counters, his slickness but he roars back with brute strength. His fists feel like two pieces of granite stone. Dull thuds echo across the arena every time he connects. Like an axe hitting wet logs. Ragamuffin style. By the end of the third there is unease in the air. No one can quite believe what they're seeing. There isn't even a betting ring in the arena on the night because people are so sure of the outcome. Lloyd has already put five grand on himself earlier at odds of five to one of course. Those odds are shortening like bolts of lightening by the second. To those ringside it's like a natural disaster unfolding.
It's not about the money for Lloyd however. It's something else. He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being man. That's what he feels like, a great athletic beast. A whip hand. He pours himself all over Curry for the next round and then the next. It's a mugging really. A brawler dismantling the thinker piece by piece. He operates by instinct. He feels the life draining out of the champion. By the end of round six he watches him beaten and bloody returning to his corner. A weary man with no fire left in him. Dampened down. His blue centre light has been put out. Perhaps in a way forever.
Lloyd casts a look across the ring from his stool. He watches Curry and he already knows. The bowed head. The body language. The fear. The cut men slow and still as if they are moving in slow liquid. He watches as the champion quits. Right there on his stool. A stool is not the right place for a new champion Lloyd figures and stands up immediately. He breathes deeply and considers that no one will ever doubt him again. Or the spirit of the ragamuffin man.