Bowie V. Ibarra
Fight Card books has released yet another charity anthology filled with fight stories in the tradition of the classic pulps.
Here's the report from their OFFICIAL FIGHT CARD WEBSITE:
Fight Card is excited to publish the collection you now hold in your hands – our second Fight Card charity anthology – Fight Card Presents: Battling Mahoney and Other Stories. This time we’ve upped the ante from ten rounds of two-fisted fight fiction to a full fifteen rounds – with 100% of the proceeds going to help the family of western writing legend, the late Jory Sherman – a mentor and friend to so many in the literary community.
Writers helping writers as part of the Fight Card publishing collective.
Battling Mahoney and Other Stories is filled with action delivered by many of Fight Card’s top contributors. Legendary pulp writer Len Levinson provides the title story – featuring characters from his popular The Sergeant series of WWII thrillers. Willis Gordon sets the mood with his extensive essay, On Boxing, andFight Card favorite James Hopwood (Fight Card: King of the Outback and Fight Card: Rumble in the Jungle) gives us aHollywood Hits tale featuring Abbott & Costello along with The Brown Bomber himself, Joe Louis.
Robert E. Howard scholar Mark Finn (Fight Card: The Adventures of Sailor Tom Sharkey) gives us another top notch ‘weird boxing’ tale, featuring Sailor Tom Sharkey & the Electric Gorilla. Bowie V. Ibarra returns to the Fight Card team with his prose singing The Song of the Cornerman, while Michael Zimmerman gives us one of the hardest hitting stories in the collection, The Broken Man.
New writers climbing into the ring with Fight Card include Nik Morton (Cowboy in the Ring), Marc Cameron (Rock, Paper, Scissors), Marcia Ward (Bloodied Leather), Clay More (Heat of Battle), and Chuck Tyrell (Fight Day in Diablo).
We are also thrilled to include stories from Loren D. Estleman and James Reasoner, both writers who are held in the highest regard by their peers and readers.
This new anthology also sports another beautiful cover fromFight Card’s resident artist/illustrator, the brilliant and talented Carl Yonder (Pirate Eye).
It’s all happening in Fight Card Presents: Battling Mahoney and Other Stories…
So, keep calm and keep your guard up…
As mentioned, ZBFbooks.com kingpin Bowie V. Ibarra has provided yet another short story for the charity anthology. This one is entitled, 'Song of the Cornerman'. The story is about a cornerman who is taking his charge, a young, overconfident boxer, into his first title fight.
Below is a preview of the title. Check it out.
Bowie V. Ibarra
Copyright 2013, 2014 Bowie V. Ibarra, ZBFbooks.com, (Fight Card)
To my father and tio Martin. Thanks for introducing me to boxing.
To all boxing fans.
To Teddy Atlas.
To Jeremy LC Jones and Paul Bishop. Thank you for this opportunity.
Bradley Coburn is a good boxer. In fact, he’s real good.
The problem is he knows it, and is too busy telling everyone how great he is instead of putting in time in the gym honing his skills.
You don’t know how many times this little bastard has stood me up for gym time. Sure, he comes in during the week when we’re open, during his daily training. But then he says he wants to come in for some extra gym time on the weekend, when we’re closed. I say okay, right? I mean, what kind of trainer doesn’t make an effort to help out a student who doesn’t want to improve his skills, right? Am I right?
And so there’s little old me, good old Octavio, getting his sleepy ass out of bed and going to open the gym at eight in the morning after a night of cards and bourbon with the old codgers I call my friends at the VFW. Me. Getting up in the morning. Saturday morning. I could ask Marty to do it for me, but that’s not Marty’s business. Marty’s business is to keep Bradley’s face from falling apart during a fight. So it’s me, it’s all me getting up early on a weekend, usually with a hangover, to open up.
And where’s Bradley? Nowhere to be seen. Twice he’s showed up over an hour after I’ve been waiting for him as I’m about to lock up. That’s the kind of undisciplined little bastard I’m dealing with here. The guy’s good, but so good he thinks he doesn’t need to work for it.
Which makes tonight’s problem even bigger. It’s Bradley’s first televised title fight, and he’s still got his head so far up his ass that the champ, this big Cuban named Oscar Vincent, is going to have to punch Bradley on his butt cheek and hope it hits his face.
I swear to Christ, if Bradley doesn’t listen to me, he’s going to sleep in that ring in front of the world and lose this shot. And I don’t want that, you hear me? I don’t want that for him. He doesn’t deserve it, but he’s going to earn it if he doesn’t listen to me.
“Would you relax, Octavio. I’m boxing’s next big thing. I got this, man.”
“You’ll have this if you stick with what we trained for, Bradley.”
I call him Bradley because he says he hates being called Brad. See? See? That’s the kind of challenge I’m dealing with.
“He’s going to do fine, Octavio.”
“Marty, I know you want to earn your keep, but I don’t want you having to put Bradley’s face back together when that Cuban starts picking him apart out there.”
“I got it, Octavio. You’ll see. This Cuban has no chance.”
“You better listen to me out there, Bradley. This is a title fight, kid.”
“I will, I will. I always do, Octavio.”
I swear to Christ, over the past thirty-five years I’ve been in this sport, after four years an amateur and around twenty years as a boxer, I’ve never had to deal with such a prima donna. I’ve also never dealt with somebody with so much talent, so much skill. The kid is a prodigy, but Jesus Christ is he stuck on himself.
I don’t want to go off on this little bastard. He’s not ready for that. Marty’s always holding me back, and I can appreciate that. But I swear to Christ, if I have to, I will. This little bastard is like a son to me, and we’ve both come too far to not take home the winner’s purse and the belt. I’m just not going to put up with his garbage tonight. He earned his shot. Now I’m going to make him deserve taking home the big dollars and the title tonight, whether he likes it or not. Mainly, because I deserve my cut of that purse for putting up with him. So does Marty. But Marty’s not past due on his rent and about to be thrown out on the rails. I am.
You’d think I’d do a better job with money management. But most of my money goes to the gym for the boys and on the poker tables at the VFW. I just want them to have the best. The boys, that is. Not my buddies at the VFW. But it’s one of the better gyms in San Antonio. It might even be better if I was dealt better hands. It’s a bad habit, I know.
I could hear Bradley’s music start when this guy walked into our dressing room with a headset on.
“We’re ready for you, Mr. Coburn,” he said.
“Let’s go,” I said, waving them on.
Bradley shouted, then said, “Let’s do this!” before he walked out the door.
I leaned over to Marty and told him, “If he doesn’t take this fight seriously, Marty, I swear to Christ.”
“We’re not there yet, Octavio. Let a few rounds play out first.”
“Sure. Sure. Wait and see. Wait and see.”
We stepped out from the curtain only moments after Marty had unfurled the Texas flag, and I could feel the energy in the arena. All these years, that’s still something that gives me a thrill, a real charge, you know? That energy. That fire from the crowd is just so addictive. Like a drug. Really, hearing those people cheering, ready to see the fighters slug it out, it’s just so… God, I don’t even have the words for it.
We got to the ring, and I think the ring was to Bradley’s advantage. It was a few inches smaller than most rings he’s fought in, and the canvas was pristine. Well, apart from the fights earlier that night. I could tell when I looked at the canvas before the show that tonight was its first night to be used.
We’re also the blue corner tonight, which I’d requested and we’d got. I’m kind of superstitious about the corners I work. Blue has always been good to me. I’ve only lost seven fights working the blue corner. I won 46 with my camp.
The red’s a totally different story. 24 wins. 13 losses. Yeah, I hate that corner.
The good thing, though, is that old Bradley here is 29 of those wins on blue. No losses here. He’s also 10 of those wins on red. But his two losses were on red, so this bodes well for all of us.
I put my stuff down with Marty and called for Bradley, who was already dancing around the ring.
“’Ey. Get over here, Bradley. Get your head straight.”
“I’m ready, Octavio. Don’t sweat it,” he told me as I took off his robe.
“You’ve got this tonight, Bradley.”
“The title’s mine tonight, Octavio. You’ll see.”
“You better show me tonight,” I told him. “Show all these people here.”
Marty was checking to make sure he had enough Vasoline on Bradley’s face to help prevent cuts from the punches when the Cuban’s music started and the fans started cheering. How could I blame them? This guy, Oscar Vincent, was a real knockout artist. His hands were phenomenal, and his technique was sweet. And he had the fans in his corner that was for sure. I wouldn’t say Bradley was booed by any stretch of the imagination. Bradley’s arrogance certainly didn’t help endear him to fans.
But the energy from the fans for the Cuban was much stronger than for Bradley. It didn’t seem to faze the kid, though. Didn’t faze me. I could give a rat’s ass what these fans think about Bradley. If he listens to me, these fans will be in our corner before it’s all over. If not, well, life’s best lessons are learned the hard way, you know? It wouldn’t be the first time I’d be out in the streets, either. I always have the gym. Hell, maybe Chris from the VFW would lend me a few bucks, tide over the landlord for a week or two.
Ah, who the hell am I kidding?
It’s this whole flag waving thing I can’t stand for right now. This Cuban thinks he can walk into the Frank Erwin here in Austin with that Cuban flag. That makes my blood boil. That’s why I made sure to tell Marty to wave the Lone Star State flag. I’m from San Antonio. Bradley’s from Houston. Marty is from Shreveport, but that’s okay. He knows what he’s doing, so I’ll forgive him for being born in Louisiana. I tell folks he’s from Beaumont.
“Christ, he’s big,” whispered Bradley to me as Vincent stepped into the ring with his team.
I heard Bradley and had to respond. “Now you relax, Bradley. You knew this already, and we’ve trained for it. So get your head straight. You can beat this big bastard, alright?”
Bradley just nodded at me as we all moved back to our corner as the announcer began his intro.
I’m not going to lie to you. I thought the same thing when Vincent entered the ring. The guy seemed much bigger in person. I’d studied some tape, but man, in person, the dude was huge. But the scales don’t lie. Bradley and Vincent are in the same weight class.
As the announcer finished his spiel, I had one more thing to tell Bradley before the face off.
“Listen to me, Bradley. You look this big bastard in the eye and you show him who’s going to win this fight, you hear me? Get your game face on, kid!”
Bradley looked like a little puppy who had just got his ass whipped by a rolled up newspaper. His bravado had somehow faded since he laid eyes on the big commie. I thought he was about to start whimpering as we faced off in the middle of the ring.
His trainers weren’t much to me. A couple of young chumps. They’re lucky they had this Cuban under their wing. Real gravy train. Bradley would show them.
Ref gave the instructions, and they touched gloves. We got out of the ring, but before I got out, I told Bradley, “Get out there and stick to your training. You hear me?”
Bradley nodded as I put his mouthpiece in his mouth and stepped out.
“He’s going to be fine, Octavio,” Marty said to me.
“He can beat this big bastard, Marty, if he listens to me.”
The bell rang and Bradley’s test began. I hadn’t been this nervous in a while. This kid has a chance to become a big name in boxing with a good showing here. And he’s doing alright. Bradley’s working the jab like I needed him to do. Bradley’s got the reach advantage, and we need to keep Vincent from getting shots off on the inside.
“Good jabs from Bradley.”
“It’s early, Marty. It’s early.”
“I just want you to see this kid is starting right.”
“I can see it, Marty.”
I’m usually not this grouchy. Marty didn’t deserve me snapping back at him like that. I’m just a bundle of nerves right now.
Vincent fed Bradley one of his rights, and Bradley stumbled. “Oh, hell,” I muttered. Bradley recovered, thank Christ, and returned a combo of his own, getting Vincent off of him. And when Vincent tried to find another opening, Bradley responded with more combos, making a statement that he was not in any danger.
“You think he slipped?”
“I think he got clocked, Marty. But he’s recovered.”
Things slowed down a bit with both men taking their time before the round ended. It was a Vincent round, for sure, though. Marty and I got in the ring and sat Bradley down.
“Are you alright?” I asked Bradley, pulling out his mouthpiece.
“Okay. You’re doing good right now. Keep snapping that jab. You’re not going to one-punch this guy. You need to keep setting up these combos.”
Bradley’s eyes were scanning the crowd.
“’Ey. Bradley look at me. Are you listening?” I turned his face to me. This kid was not focused.
“Listen. Keep it up with the combos, but stop throwing the hook from the outside. He’s an experienced guy, he’s going to respond to it. Switch it up, and keep snapping that jab.”
I swear, the only other person other than a corner man that knows how fast a minute can be is a boxer. We stepped out of the ring as the second round began.
“No real swelling to report, boss.”
“Great. As long as he listened to what I told him to do, he should be fine.”
Bradley opened strong with a set of combos that was answered by Vincent. Good series of punches from both. I was hoping he was establishing the combo so he could switch it up. But the more the match went on, he wasn’t doing what I told him to do.
“He’s throwing the same punches.”
“I know it,” I told Marty.
Same series of combos from Bradley. He was becoming predictable; what I needed him to avoid. They were connecting, sure. But that wasn’t going to last long.
“He’s starting to get cocky.”
“I swear to Christ.”
Bradley was connecting pretty solid, and although Vincent had answers, Bradley was taking control.
“He’s getting too cocky.”
“I swear to Christ.”
There’s a different feeling you get outside the ring when you know someone’s going to get knocked down. In the ring, a fighter can almost smell it. Well, I did. It’s like you connect on some sort of spirit level, like your body flows the way it should and it just happens. For me, when I’m watching it, you just… I can’t even put it into words, but you know it’s coming.
Too bad it wasn’t the person I needed knocked down.
“Aw, hell,” shouted Marty as Bradley fell to his hands and knees.
“Get up, kid.”
Bradley had dropped his fundamentals, thinking he was hurting Vincent. One, he’s just standing in front of the guy when he lands some combos. And two, his hands are down. Hands up, kid. Hands up.
“I swear to Christ! Get up Bradley!”
Thankfully, he didn’t look bad, and got up at 8.
“Keep your hands up, kid,” I shouted.
Vincent went in for the kill, but Bradley was able to keep the big Cuban from getting a good shot in. After a few flurries, the second round was over and Marty and I climbed in the ring.
“Are you okay?”
“Listen to me, pull yourself together. The beginning of this match was all you, but you lost your focus and wanted to play around and you paid for it. You’d get your shots off and you posed after you punched. It was you. It was all you in the first part of that match.
I tried to look into this kids eyes to see if he was listening. I don’t think he was, but I stayed on him.
“Stop standing in front of this guy. He’s too good to make this kind of bush league mistake. And keep your hands up. You’re better than this. Now go back in there and fight a full round.”
We got out of the ring and the third began. And more of the same lack of discipline from Bradley.
“What is wrong with him? He looks like crap.”
“He’s giving up, Marty. He’s giving up already. I can’t believe this.”
Will Octavio coach his charge to the win? Or will Bradley's lack of confidence prove his undoing?
Check it out in Battling Mahoney and Other Stories. Pick it up today HERE.
And if you like outstanding fight stories, then ZBFbooks.com has some picks for you. Pick up your copy of the 'Pit Fighters' series today in paperback or kindle. Follow the adventures of the fighters in the south Texas fight stable, San Uvalde International, in 'Baptism by Fire' and 'Double Cross'. Get them HERE. The stories feature a Scottish boxer trying to make a name for himself again.
Check out the trailers and the book covers for both books below.
TRAILER: PIT FIGHTERS - BAPTISM BY FIRE
BOOK TRAILER: PIT FIGHTERS - DOUBLE CROSS
BOWIE V. IBARRA is the author of the acclaimed 'Down the Road' zombie horror series from Permuted Press. He earned a BFA in Acting and a MA in Theatre History from Texas State University. His latest titles explore superhero themes, including 'Codename: La Lechusa', 'Room 26 and the Army of Xulhutdul', and 'Tejano Star and the Vengeance of Chaplain Skull'.
Network with Bowie at his official website, ZBFbooks.com, the leader in Tex-Mexploitation literature.