Down on the docks, “Block” Rogan made just enough money for food, a beer, and a room at the Concordia, but he was still a good son; on Friday nights, he’d usually pick up a match at the Pier 13 smoker. He called any prize money he’d win, “Mom’s winnin’s,” all of which he’d mail to his mother back in Kansas City.
This was “Tiger” Williams first match on Pier 13, having arrived from San Diego a couple weeks back. His purpose was to stay outta jail. He knew if he threw down in the ring, he’d be less likely to get in trouble at the bars later.
The “ring” was the aft hurricane deck of an old tramp steamer, the S.S. Billy. There was no ceremony, no leadup, not even an announcement of names; Two men would size each other up in the crowd, ante and raise until a bet was reached, and enter the ring to show their cards.
Block and Tiger stepped in having gone through the money motions. There was no bell; the captain of the ship simply said, “go,” and the fight started.
The two fighters contented themselves to circle for a few moments, having not seen one another fight before. Tiger let fly his left, striking Block’s jaw, but to no effect. Block returned the blow likewise but to similar effect. The men continued to circle, prodding, looking for weakness in the other.
Not seeing much of a fight, the crowd on the tight deck got testy and issued profanities that only sailors knew. The Billy’s captain called out that if the fighters didn’t fight, he’d stop the bout and let real men fight. Block obliged the captain with a right across Tiger’s face. The hit was powerful; Tiger stumbled against the rail and shook his head to regain his senses. The ringing in his ears mixed with the yells of the spectators.
Block grinned and moved in for a quick end, but as he moved in, Tiger surprised him off the rails with two quick lefts and a massive uppercut. Block’s vision flashed and he suddenly found himself in the middle of the ring with Tiger pouring a flurry of lefts and rights into Block’s body. Block knew now that he had a chance; with all them body shots, Tiger was fighting for the long bout. If he’d wanted to end it fast, he might have tried to finish off Block right after that uppercut. Tiger was either fighting for the duration, or he was toying with Block like a cat with a mouse; His name was Tiger, after all.
Toying or waiting, Tiger was holding back, so Block decided to let loose with his all. He saw Tiger drop his center of gravity a little. He was lining up his uppercut again. Block had the longer reach and found his distance. Keeping out of reach of the uppercut, Block lined Tiger up with a quick left feint and then aced Tiger with a mean right. Down Tiger went. There was no count. When you went down on Pier 13, you usually stayed down.
The captain handed Block his winnings, save for two bits to his corner man who didn’t have to lift a finger, the match only lasting one round. The other $5.75 got promptly sent to Mother.