Jimmy has just lost only the second fight of his professional career. He sits alone in his dressing room contemplating his future. His Manager walks in…
“Look Tommy, I could have gone another two rounds. The ref stepped in too early. I…”
He was interrupted by his Manager, Tommy Seabrook. A tough east Londoner who didn’t mince his words.
“Fuck off. Don’t kid yourself Jim. He beat you. He was all over you in the ninth. The ref had to stop it. It’s over. Time to call it a day.”
The words hit him like a sledgehammer. Retirement had never been mentioned before. He came back the only way he knew. Fighting. He lunged at Tommy Seabrook and grabbed him tight by his collar and tie.
“What the fuck do you mean by that? I’m twenty nine for fucks sake. I’m in my prime. I’m three fights away from a title fight and you’ve got the balls to tell me to call it a day? Fuck off Tommy. Just fuck off!”
He let him go, moved away and sat down on an old wooden stool in the corner of the dressing room. Annoyed with himself for losing his temper.
Tommy straightened his tie. Took a deep breath. Realising that his words may have been a bit harsh. He waited for a few seconds before he spoke again. This time his voice was quiet and slow.
“Look Jim. Gonzalez beat you fair and square tonight. The ref stepped in because he was worried you were taking too many punches. No way will we get a rematch. He’s moving on. Already lined up a bout with Romero. That’s a title eliminator. He wins that and he gets his shot at Suarez for the title.”
Jimmy’s head dropped into his chest.
“Okay, okay, just line me up a couple of easy fights and I’ll bide my time till I get another chance.”
Tommy shook his head.
“Jim, listen to me. You know the rules of this game, whether it’s inside or outside the ring you never, ever, take a step backwards, you’ve always got to keep going forward. You start fighting nobodies and you become a fucking nobody.”
Jim heard Tommy’s words but was lost in his own thoughts. British Lightweight Champion at just twenty three. European Champion at twenty six. Jimmy “Kid” Taylor was the golden boy of British Boxing. Unbeaten in all amateur and professional fights. No one went more than eight rounds with Jimmy the Kid. Then he fought the world number four, a Mexican called Garcia. This guy was different to anyone he’d ever fought. His punches were accurate, crisp, sharp and everyone of them felt as though he was being pummelled with a ball hammer. He won on points, but his body was never quite the same. He pissed blood for two weeks after. The spiteful punches to the kidneys had taken their toll. The vision in his right eye was permanently blurred, something he’d never told Tommy, and he was now partially deaf in his right ear. But he won and that was all that mattered. He took ten months off hoping to fight Suarez for the World title. But Suarez was busy fighting the world ranked number two. So Tommy decided the big money fight would be a re-match with Garcia. Big mistake. This time Garcia destroyed him in three rounds. He couldn’t see Garcia’s left hand punches until it was too late because of the poor vision in his right eye. He was on the canvas six times in three rounds. He was in hospital for five days after the fight. But was training again within three months. Then tonight he’d fought Gonzalez and the ref stopped it in the ninth. He’d taken another beating and lost.
He cleared his head and looked up at Tommy. They’d been together for thirteen years. He knew exactly what buttons to press to get what he wanted.
“Yeh, I know the rules Tom and I agree. Lightweight is no good for me. But think about this just for a second. What if I put on five pounds and move up to Welterweight. THAT Division is wide open. AND there’s that new kid from Lewisham who’s knocking everyone out. How about lining up a fight for me and him. Would be a great British fight. You’d sell out Wembley for that one. Maybe even get the TV guys interested?”
He could hear the wheels going round in Tommy Seabrooks head. He’d just suggested something that could make Tommy a lot of money. He knew what the answer would be. He watched as Tommy nodded his head.
“Well, as long as you’re sure Jim. This Lewisham kid is good, hits hard, great left hand, quick, fast, accurate and agile. But he’s never fought anyone of your class before. Okay let me see what I can do.”
Tommy walked over to Jimmy and patted him on the back. He said something to Jim as he left. But Jimmy Kid Taylor never heard him. He was now completely deaf in his right ear.