Saturday Book Club - Fear No Foe Chapter 23
Shay started training the very next day, running the 7 miles from Manhattan to Paddy’s Gym in Brooklyn, Paddy and Kenny worked on the tactics for the fight, Paddy had trained Jimmy for the first 6 years he was a professional boxer and knew a lot about him. Paddy told Kenny that they would have to change Shay’s tactics from the Bruno fight as Tarnna fights exactly the same way and they would just cancel each other out. Kenny told Paddy that if they mixed Shay’s old boxing style with what he had been taught over here that, that may be the key. Paddy replied “Yeah Ken I think your right, but what we got to get Shay to do is go to the body, break Jimmy down and take it from there”. They worked Shay hard over the next 3 months, working on his movement and hand speed, but most of all on getting Shay to work the body every chance he got. All Kelly’s sponsorship meetings started to pay dividends as well, she had secured Shay a deal with Nike to sponsor him, and it was a massive deal that Brumsdale could not come close to. Shay wasn’t really happy with letting down the company that had supported him from the start of his career, but with this 2 year deal with Nike he would be set for life. Shay had got Sparky and 5 of the lad’s tickets ringside for the show, the fight had been so well promoted that the pay per view was looking like being one of the biggest ever especially in England and Ireland, Tarnna v Dempsey was being talked about more than Hatter’s and Britain’s world title fights. The weigh in was very dignified and Shay and Jimmy weighed in right on the weight. Richie and Costa also, weighed in bang on, no
dramas, no fuss; everyone was professional and was ready for the big show the following day. The day had come for the biggest night of Shay’s boxing career, Sky were showing Britain’s title fight on the first of their pay per view a at 10 o’clock in the evening British time and had got the European rights to show the fights from Madison Square Garden at 1 o’clock in the morning 8pm New York time.
Shay looked nervous all day; he was not his normal relaxed self. Even when he talked to his Mom on the phone she could since he was not himself. Shay knew that his whole career hinged on this one fight and he was going up against one of the greatest boxers of all time. Paddy and Kenny both tried to talk to him to try and ease his tension, but they just seemed to make him worse. It took Kelly to sit him down and talk to him to calm him down.
She said to him “What’s wrong Shay? Why are you so nervous”. Shay told her how he was feeling and that for the first time he was scared, not about fighting Tarnna, but about how important it was to win this fight.
Kelly put her hand on his and said “Shay look you go out there and do your best, no one can take anything away from you. Everyone here thinks you can do it, Paddy does, Kenny does, Dexter does and I know you can do it”. You’re at the Garden, the place you have always talked about fighting at, so join the legends that have fought here and show the world what Shay Dempsey is all about”.
Shay sat there in thought for a second and knew Kelly was right; he looked up at Kelly and said “How do you always know what to say? Your right, I’m going to beat Tarnna”. Kelly smiled at Shay and replied “Isn’t that what managers are supposed to do?”
Kelly went and turned the telly on as the Britain fight was just about to start. It was being show on E.S.P.N’s normal sports channel as in New York it was only 5 in the evening. Shay watched as Gary Britain gave an excellent display by stopping Josh Fury in the second round. Britain didn’t even look like he broke a sweat, the British crowd at Wembley Arena loved it and cheered and applauded their golden boy World Champion.
At the interview directly after Frank and Gary were asked who they thought would win between Tarnna and Dempsey and when they would get a shot at the title? Gary replied first by saying “It doesn’t matter who wins, I’ve beaten both of them before and the one that wins will be beaten again”. Frank Goldsten then said “As Gary is a fighting champion; he will be looking to face the winner in 4 months time in a stadium in Britain”. Gary then continued “After I defend my titles for the 3rd time I am going to take some time out and marry my gorgeous fiancée Emma”. Shay looked at Kelly and said “Don’t he just make you sick?”
Kelly smiled and replied “Well I think it’s quite sweet, anyway enough about Gary Britain get your head on beating Jimmy Tarnna”. Shays smiled and replied “Yeah fuck him; let’s get this one done first”. Shay then went and checked he had all his gear ready for the fight for about the 5th time that day. Paddy told him to sit down and relax until it was time to go to the show. Shay, Kenny, Paddy and Kelly made the short journey only a few blocks down to Madison Square Garden, as they drove passed the front of the famous building Shay saw his name lit up on the big advertising screen on the front of the building. Shay looked around the crowds of people outside waiting to get in, there were loads of people dressed in green white and gold and carrying Irish flags, Shay’s Irish roots had definitely got him a lot of support in America. They drove to the back entrance of the Garden and they all went in and straight up to Shay’s changing room. Shay started warming up for the fight as soon as they got in there; Dexter came in to see how he was. Shay looked focus and ready, Kelly handed him a box with his new robe and shorts in and a shoe box with his new boots in. Kelly kissed Shay on the cheek and wished him good luck; she left him to get ready and took her place at ringside with Dexter. Shay opened the box and pulled out his new Nike robe and shorts, the design was exactly the same as it was on his old Brumsdale gear he wore against Bruno Beef. He opened the shoe box to reveal a pair of Nike boxing boots in the same design as his shorts. Shay got changed while watching the undercard, as he was getting his hands taped up by Kenny; Richie Hatter came into his changing room
to wish him luck. Shay thanked him and wished him all the best for his fight. Shay looked ready and focused. Paddy said to him “Kid remember, work the body every chance you get and keep on your toes, stay off the rope and try and dictate the pace of the fight”.
Shay nodded his head as Kenny smeared Vaseline on his eyebrows and cheek bones. Shay was coming out first and was called to the ring; he walked out to the entrance of the arena and was announced in by the M.C. He walked out and crowd went mental, Shay was trying to look focused, but he couldn’t help noticing all the green white and gold flags being held up. Shay stopped halfway down the walk way to the ring and just looked around at the crowd.
Paddy asked him “Are you o.k kid?” Shay nodded his head and replied “Yes Paddy I’m good”. Paddy then said “Well stop just fucking standing there and get in the ring”. Shay smiled and walked the rest of the way to the ring. The crowd was still cheering as he moved around in the ring, Shay may have been over 3000 miles away from home, but the amount of Americans with Irish roots that had taken Shay to their hearts was amazing. When Jimmy Tarnna came out he got just as much of a good reception even Shay applauded as Jimmy as he slipped through the ropes into the ring. Tarnna moved over towards Shay and touched gloves with him as a mark of respect. Kenny sprayed water over Shay’s face as Paddy put his gum shield in, he then took Shay’s robe off him and he was ready for the battle a head. After all the announcements were finished by the M.C the ref called both of them to the centre of the ring and gave them their final instructions. Tarnna was wired, he stared at Shay with an icy stare, Shay stared back trying not to be intimidated by this modern day legend. They touched gloves and went back to their corners. Paddy shouted up to Shay to remind him to work the body every chance he got, Shay nodded his head and then looked over at Kelly at ring side and gave her a wink. The atmosphere was everything Shay expected
from the Garden, he knew it was his time to make history as the bell rang to start the first round. They both moved to the centre of the ring and then circled each other, Shay shot out a sharp double jab which Jimmy slipped away from and countered with a right hand that Shay parried away. Tarnna then moved in with a fast 5 shot combo, Shay slipped, parried and blocked all of them. Every shot that they let go the other boxer seemed to know exactly what the other was doing. The first round was high paced, but nether boxer got through with any decent shots.
The bell went to end the first round and Shay went back to his corner. Paddy sat him down and said “Kid you need to work the body, get inside and break him down”. Shay shook his head and replied “Pad I can’t get nowhere near him, the blokes unreal”.
Paddy gave Shay a drink of water and said “Kid the reason you can’t get near him and he can’t get near to you is that you fight exactly the same, he knows everything that you know, remember I trained him”. Shay replied “So what do I do then?”
Paddy said as he put Shay’s gum shield back in “Mix it up kid, work the body, rough him up a bit, slow him down and then you can use your boxing to finish it”. Shay nodded and got up to start the second round.
Tarnna came out dancing around; Shay fainted a jab and smashed a right hand into Tarnna’s body which sent him back to the ropes. Jimmy came back with a sweet one, two catching Shay with both of them, but Shay kept him on the ropes and blasted in 2 evil left and right hooks to the body. Tarnna tied Shay up like any veteran professional would do and the ref broke them up. Shay now knew he could hurt Jimmy and every chance he got he smashed in body shots, Shay’s tactics were working, but he was leaving himself open and Jimmy was now getting through with his own shots. The second round ended with the judges having both fighters even.
When Shay sat down, Paddy said “That was great kid, keep it up, but we need more pressure”. Shay replied “The man is made of stone; I don’t think the body is going to work”.
Paddy shook his head and said “Kid it is working, just try and cover up a bit more on your way in and break him down”. The 3rd 4th 5th and 6th rounds were all brutal for both boxers, Shay’s body shots had started to pay dividends and Tarnna had slowed down in his movement, but Shay was taking a lot of punishment on the way in and both of the boxers were cut and bleeding.
By the end of the 6th round it was still too close to call on the judges’ score cards. Shay sat in his corner as Kenny tried to stem the bleeding from a cut on the top of Shay’s left eye.
Paddy told him “Kid we need more from you, he’s slowing now so get on your toes in this round and box him”. Shay replied “O.k. Pad I’ll try, but he still feels strong to me”. Paddy then said “Trust me kid, one big push now and we got him”. Shay got up to start the 7th round, ready to put everything he could into this round. Shay came out and danced around the ring, Jimmy was not moving as quick as he had been in the earlier rounds and Shay moved in with some sweet shots to Jimmy’s head. All of Shay’s shots caught Tarnna clean and hard, but Jimmy just seemed to absorb them like they were nothing and came back with shots of his own. Both fighters were now standing toe to toe in the centre of the ring hitting each other with everything they had. Just before the bell rang to end the 7th round, Shay unleashed an evil straight right body shot with everything he had left, blood came shooting out of Tarnna’s mouth as the bell went. They both stopped boxing and looked at each other in total respect.
The capacity crowd at the Garden stood and applauded at the display of boxing and the pure guts both boxers had shown in the last round. Shay got back to his corner completely drained of energy; he sat down, blood pouring down his face. Kenny started working on Shays cut, but gave Paddy a look to say it was a bad one.
Paddy said to Shay “Kid you got him, I need one more round from you like that and he’s going to go I can tell”. Shay took in some deep, deep breaths trying hard to get oxygen into his body.
He looked at Paddy and replied “Paddy I can’t do it that last round nearly killed me”.
Paddy looked at him and said “So you want to quit then kid? I didn’t have you down as a quitter”. Shay replied strongly “No I’m not a quitter” he then rose to his feet to show Paddy that he was ready to carry on.
There were less than 10 seconds to go before the bell rang for the 8th round, Paddy talked to Shay as he got out of the ring, Kenny noticed the ref talking to Tarnna’s corner. Kenny tapped Paddy and said “Look something is going on in Tarnna’s corner”
As Paddy looked up the ref turned and walked towards them, he went straight up to Shay and raised his hand. Tarnna the modern day legend had retired in his corner unable to come out for the 8th round. Shay took a few steps forward with his hands in the air and dropped to his knees, he had done it, he had stopped the unstoppable, the man of stone, Jimmy “The Piranha” Tarnna.
The crowd were all out of their seats cheering this great and for a lot of them unexpected victory. Paddy and Kenny both picked Shay off his knees and they both hugged him in the centre of the ring. Shay then went over to Jimmy’s corner to make sure he was alright and to show him the respect he deserved, Jimmy had suffered broken ribs and his corner had to stop the fight because he was bringing up blood. They were trying to get Jimmy out of the ring as quickly as possible and to hospital as they feared he may have a punctured lung.
As Shay came toward Tarnna, Jimmy waved the people around him away and rose to his feet. He said to Shay “Well done, you will be great Champion”. Shay then thanked him and told him that he was still a legend and will always be in his eyes.
Jimmy nodded and was led out of the ring to a standing ovation. By this time Dexter and Kelly had got into the ring, Dexter said to him “Well done Son that was the best battle in a ring I have ever seen, Britain is going down in 4 months time”. Shay nodded his head with blood still streaming down his face, he then walked up to Kelly and said “Well miss Boxing Manager, was that o.k.?” Kelly who was nearly in tears replied “That was unbelievable”
Kelly then embraced Shay and hugged him tightly.
Shay hugged her back and with all the adrenalin rushing through him took his chance and said “Kelly there is one thing I have wanted to say to you”. Kelly looked at Shay, her eyes wide open and replied “What’s that then?”
Shay didn’t say another word and kissed Kelly passionately on the lips. The Madison Square Garden crowd went mental cheering and applauding this as it was shown on the big screens above the ring and to all the millions of people watching around the world.
As they stopped kissing, Kelly said “So what does this mean then?” Shay smiled and replied “Well hopefully that you don’t just want to be my manager, but also my partner, Kelly I love you”. Kelly smiled as she wiped some blood off Shay’s face and said “I love you too”.
Kelly then went in for a second kiss to the roaring crowds delight. One of the Sky Sports commentators then came up to Shay to interview him about the fight, he asked Shay how he was feeling and what winning this fight meant to him?
Shay replied with a big, big smile on his face “It’s feels great, Jimmy is by far the hardest opponent I have ever fought and probably ever will be, the man is a living legend and I have nothing ,but respect for him”.
Shay was then asked, did he think he would be ready to fight Gary Britain in 4 months time and what he thought about the fight? Shay answered “I’ll be more than ready to fight Britain and with my trainers Paddy and Kenny behind me and my gorgeous manager Kelly and my promoter Dexter, I know I can beat Gary Britain”.
The commentator thanked Shay and they all headed back to the changing room to start the celebrations. Shay saw Sparky and the rest of the lads at ringside as he walked back to the changing room and told the security to let them through the barriers so they could come back stage with them. As the drink flowed in the dressing room, Shay had the cut above his eye stitched up by one of the doctors on hand at the show, there was no way he was going to hospital tonight.
They drank and watch on as Richie Hatter destroyed Costa Contez in 4 easy rounds, Shay was now showered and changed and told them all they would continue the party at their apartment. As they left Shay saw Richie Hatter returning from the ring after his win, he congratulated Richie on another title defense and invited him and his guests back to his place to celebrate. Richie told him he would be there with Conor, Deanna and Charlie when he had finished here.