“Unstoppable? Unstoppable? Are you having a giraffe?”
Lugs Finnegan is used to fighters mouthing off. It’s his job to get them fights and purses, he tells them, all they have to do is win.
“Lugs, are ye listenin’? Unstoppable, what’s that about?”
Lugs put down the list he was working on, the card of bouts for Saturday’s big meeting. He waits, knowing Rory Reilly was waiting for him to answer, he can feel the heat of his breath as he puffs it from his dilating nostrils, like a frustrated bull in heat and leather restraints. Ragin’ Rory Reilly, the fightin’ Irishman, hadn’t he named him, himself? He’s not even fuckin’ Irish and Rory Reilly, me bollix, what’s his name? Dai Eustace, a Welshman. He’d be fuckin’ Useless Eustace, if he hadn’t met me.
‘What’s wrong with you?” Lugs begins, defiant, “how many bouts have you won since I took you on?”
Lugs waits. No answer.
Reilly decides to ignore him. He waits for an answer for his own question.
Lugs continues, “how many bouts have you lost since I took you on?”
He waits. Reilly waits.
“None, that’s the answer. You haven’t lost a single one which means, now I can write this down for you, if you like? It means you’ve won every fuckin’ fight since I took you on, that’s what it means.”
“Answer my question.”
“What? Am I talking to myself? I’ve just answered your question: no-one’s beaten you because you’re fuckin’ UNSTOPPABLE. Do you get it, now or will I draw you a diagram?”
Reilly, a big man by anyone’s standards, almost as wide as he’s tall and at 80kg, not the heaviest but what he lacks in bulk he more than compensates in speed and strength, is a handsome man for a prizefighter. His head’s the shape of a Greek bust with his broad forehead and tight black head of curls and those soft green eyes that could melt stone. He looks at Lugs, does a double take, wondering if he’s heard right or if they’re even speaking the same language.
‘Lugs,” he says, “no-one’s unstoppable. There’s no such fucking thing as unstoppable.”
“Exactly,” says Lugs, apparently relieved they’ve arrived at an understanding.
Reilly’s even more confused and agitated now. He shakes his massive head of curls, shrouding Lugs in a mist of perspiration. Lugs ignores him and returns to the bout card.
Reilly stands looking at him, his eyes and eyebrows crimped together in thought. Then he takes the towel that was hanging from his shoulders, wipes his face and walks away, mumbling, head shaking.