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Original Issue


I had been in the ring plenty of times, a total of 22 pro fights by the time I fought Tex Cobb, but this was the darndest feeling I ever had out there. I'd never so much as dogged it even during sparring, and I really felt kind of naked standing under those lights—ashamed of myself, you know, for stealing from all those people who had paid to get in and see us fight. Sure, I'd had a hand in a lot of other fixes, but this was different. This was me going down. The one thing I wanted was to make it look real good and believable from the start, and that's what I tried to do.

I'd decided to come out strong at the bell. No dancing, no angles, nothing fancy. I'd told Tex I was going to hit him a few times, just to make things look good, and so I got out there and moved straight toward him and started swinging. I hit him with a jab, which I know got his undivided attention, and he gave me a couple of little shots, hooks and pitter-pat jabs I could barely feel. At one point I took a step forward and threw a pretty good right hand that caught Tex flush on the cheek. I set myself again, thinking I'd throw one more just like it, when I looked into Tex's eyes and saw something I'd never expected to see. That right hand was the best punch thrown in the whole fight, and I saw a real fear in those eyes. No question about it. I'd been in enough football games and prizefights and gin-joint brawls to know what fear looks like, and Tex had the look. When you see it in a real fight, you get on a guy real quick, but when I saw it, I said to myself, Whoa!

I quickly backed off and then walked straight into him so he could hit me. I went down after one patty-cake flurry, stayed on my knee for a moment, then got up and made faces to show how mad and disgusted I was. I walked in and let him pop me again, and down I went on bended knee for the second time. And, finally, a third time.

The fear was gone from Tex's face when he came to my corner to thank me for my efforts on his behalf. "Good fight," Tex said.

I got out of there fast. Good fight? I stayed in the shower scrubbing for nearly an hour, but I couldn't wash those words away. I can't to this day.