Victor stood just inside the door watching Rodriguez, not liking what he saw. He’d just come from O’Brien’s room and felt good about the fight, and then he watched Rodrigues warming up.
Same as at the horse track, Victor liked to look at his fighters before a match. Over the years he’d learned a lot watching his horses and their handlers. He could see inside them by watching them warm up, their posture, their stance, and attitude. He could look in their eyes and know how they would run on any given day. He always stood in the background, not wanting to interrupt their routine. He afforded his fighters the same courtesy, never talking to them only observing.
Michael ‘The Shamrock’ O’Brien was 26 years old, with a record of 19 and 0. He had recently beaten the 3rd ranked fighter in his weight class. He slipped a left hook and connected with a lucky right cross. He’d won by a knockout when his opponent couldn’t make the standing eight count.
He was quickly signed to fight the current title-holder for the championship. The bout was scheduled for September, 10 months away. It would be the biggest fight of the year and a huge pay day for everyone involved.
Miguel ‘Roddy’ Rodriguez glistened in sweat as he shadow boxed with himself. At age 34 he was 48 and 10, an old school fighter and a southpaw. Born and raised in the ring he could have been great. His father had died when he was young and the gym had become his home. He rose quickly in the amateur ranks and turned pro at 18.
“What do you know about Rodriguez?” Victor’s man leaned close to ask him in a hushed voice.
“He killed a man, did 5 years.”
“Self-defense but being a boxer… well you know.”
“Why’d he kill him?”
“Boyfriend was beating on his mom and he walked in on it.”
At the age of 26 Roddy walked in on a fight between his mother and her current boyfriend. The boyfriend had outweighed him by 50 pounds but it didn’t help him. Roddy flew into a rage and had beaten the man so bad he spent 5 days in intensive care and eventually died.
In prison he’d kept his head down and stayed in shape, but upon being released he realized that boxing had passed him by. He was no longer an up-and-comer, he wasn’t even a has-been – he was a never-was. No one even remembered his name. Having no other skills he kept fighting, taking whatever bouts he could. He fought with a chip on his shoulder and a fire in his belly.
The fight was a tune up match for O’Brien, a chance to showcase his talents before the ‘Big Fight’. Roddy had been chosen. With his years of experience, Roddy would be able to put on a good show and take a little beating, paid to take a dive in the fourth round.
But to Victor he didn’t look like a man who could lose on purpose. He looked like a man with something to prove. The smell of sweat and liniment, usually pleasant to Victor, tonight left a bitter taste in his throat and hung heavy in the air. With an hour until the scheduled bout, Victor and his man stepped out into the hall.
“This guy worries me,” Victor said.
“He’s got a look in his eyes… something I’ve only seen at the track.”
“He’s a bum, boss – he’s being paid 5 G’s to go down in the fourth. It’s probably the most money he’ll ever make fighting.”
“You see his tattoo, the one across his back?”
“Yeah, fucking spics and their tattoos. What’s it mean?”
“Resplandor de Gloria… Blaze of Glory.”
Victor glanced back into the room and he saw a man with the attitude and stance of a thoroughbred longshot who didn’t know he was supposed to lose, a horse that couldn’t help but win. Hire a bum he’d told them, someone to make Shamrock look good. He knew in his soul, just like at the track, they’d hired the wrong guy.
“What are the odds?” Victor asked.
“50 to 1.”
Victor thought for a minute then said, “Put ten large on Rodriguez.”
“But boss he’s going down in the fourth. If you wanna make it look good put something on him. But don’t put ten G’s on him. It’s a losing bet.”
“Just shut the fuck up and do it. That fucker aint going down, it’s just not in him. By the look in his eyes I don’t think there’s enough money in the world for him to take a dive.”
“What will we do about it?”
“The only thing we can do, make a little money.”
“I mean after the fight.”
“He’ll be a dead man this time tomorrow, let him have his glory tonight.”
Bio: Donald Glass lives in Altoona, PA. He writes mostly about the underside of life that dwells in every city … including yours. He’s had work published in all the usual places online, including Shotgun Honey, Yellow Mama, Near to the Knuckle, The Flash Fiction Offensive and Dead Guns Press. He has a story, No Place Like Home, in the Dead Guns Press anthology Hardboiled: Crime Scene.