The locker room’s dark. He’s warmed up and washed out. 36. Clicks his airpods to ignore the loudspeaker’s biography.

Oughta do it.

Daniel McCombs, Junior, was born January 16th, 1987. He wasn’t sure what his vocation would be, he just liked boxing.

“There was a zen to hitting mitts–” from the polite, encouraging jab from a sparring partner, that made him “stick with it, These were gentlemen. Improvers, my dad would say, about whatever politician supported his union.”


When he turned 17 his father told him he had to get a job.

“Those were his words. ‘Get a job, because you’ll be out on your ass when you’re ay-teen.’”

Jesus Christ.

And so he did. At CLS tire company.

It was hard work, but he didn’t mind. He held a power drill and buffed wheels for two years and then,

“I’m proud of you.” was what his father told him when he turned 19.

Jesus fucking Christ.

Here he is with his coach, Mark Sackman.

“Jab!-” Again.

“Double-Jab!-” Again.

“Jab-Cross-Hook!-” Aga–



And that’s the kind of grit we expect to see tonight, folks!

“See you after work, Dad.” Again.

“Cassie’s feeling sick.” Again.

“Operation will cost—” Again.

“The funeral will take place at—”

The funeral service wasn’t as bad as Cassie’s treatment, her sight went first. I can’t remember what she looked like in the casket.

“Yeah, Jab-Jab-Jab, Jab-cross-hook, Jab-Uppercut-Weave-Jab, and so on. Every night I’d train for 3 hours, after twelve hours at the Honda plant, he was here. And I’d replay matches for him, mostly Sugar Ray Robinson’s, Sugar Ray Leonar-”

He has scar tissue lining his forehead, jab his right eye. Mark will remind me. Right cross to the jaw, round 8. Right cross, round 8. 

-velous Marvin Hag-

Scar tissue above the eyes. Jab, right-cross in the 8th.

-lyfield vs. Bea-

Bleed the brow, blind, cross in the 8th.

“Journeymen boxers are unsung heroes of the sport. Without them, there’d be no Tyson, no Mayweather, no Ward, no Ali, no Fab 4, no Marciano, no Canelo, no Frazier, no anybody. Just a bunch of nobodies. A good sparring partner, who knows how to not harm the other fighter while still preparing them for their opponent, is a prerequisite for greatness.” said Mark Sackman about Daniel’s old sparring partner, who he’s facing off with tonigh–

Can’t recover without tren. Can’t train without painkillers. Can’t stay cool without xan. Need coke to stay alert. Can’t fight without fake piss. Let’s g- wake up, son?



Jab in fifth. Cross ‘til then.

“Get him some water. Sponge his eye godammi—!”

Water falling on rocks. Deep breaths.

“Alright, keep bleeding the right eye, set up the cross, set up the ri—“

Slip, feign, and –


Ding Ding Ding!

My right arm’s lighter than air.

— SG Phillips works in Viral Gain of Function Research in Indianapolis. He enjoys running, writing and playing music, underlining stuff in philosophy books, and watching fights. His favorite authors include David Ferry, Michael Herr, and Nicole Mullen. His other writings have been published in Expat, Ligeia, [REDACTED], Misery Tourism, and [REDACTED], sometimes under the pseudonym [REDACTED].

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