The Mucker

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 132

I'm reserving the
finish for the fifth round, and if you want to win some money you can
take the hunch!"

"Do you mean it?" asked Cassidy.

"Sure," said Billy. "You might make more by laying that I'd make him
take the count in the first minute of the round--you can place a hundred
of mine on that, if you will, please."

Cassidy took the hunch, and a moment later as the two men faced each
other he regretted his act, for to his surprise the "white hope" came up
for the fifth round smiling and confident once more.

"Someone's been handin' him an earful," grumbled Cassidy, "an' it might
be all he needed to take 'im through the first minute of the round, and
maybe the whole round--I've seen that did lots o' times."

As the two men met the "white hope" was the aggressor. He rushed in
to close quarters aiming a stinging blow at Billy's face, and then to
Cassidy's chagrin and the crowd's wonder, the mucker lowered his guard
and took the wallop full on the jaw. The blow seemed never to jar him
the least. The "hope" swung again, and there stood Billy Byrne, like
a huge bronze statue taking blow after blow that would have put an
ordinary man down for the count.

The fans saw and appreciated the spectacular bravado of the act, and
they went wild. Cheer on cheer rose, hoarse and deafening, to the
rafters. The "white hope" lost his self-control and what little remained
of his short temper, and deliberately struck Billy a foul blow, but
before the referee could interfere the mucker swung another just such
blow as he had missed and fallen with in the second round; but this time
he did not miss--his mighty fist caught the "coming champion" on the
point of the chin, lifted him off his feet and landed him halfway
through the ropes. There he lay while the referee tolled off the count
of ten, and as the official took Billy's hand in his and raised it
aloft in signal that he had won the fight the fickle crowd cheered and
screamed in a delirium of joy.

Cassidy crawled through the ropes and threw his arms around Billy.

"I knew youse could do it, kid!" he screamed. "You're as good as made
now, an' you're de next champ, or I never seen one."

The following morning the sporting sheets hailed "Sailor" Byrne as the
greatest "white hope" of them all. Flashlights of him filled a quarter
of a page. There were interviews with him. Interviews with the man he
had defeated.

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