Chapter 13 Summary
Alfred is sparring with Angel. Angel grins as he slips past every one of Alfred’s jabs and follows with a punch to Alfred’s stomach.
Although the punches do not hurt him, Alfred gets angrier with every punch and finally closes his eyes and begins to “swing wildly.” Angel laughs and Henry calls time. Bud Martin pulls out Alfred’s mouthpiece and tells him he is only throwing one punch at a time instead of working his combinations. Henry calls time again and Alfred goes back into the ring.
It is now September, but it is still hot in the gym. Henry shouts that there are ten seconds left in the round, and Alfred knows he has one last chance to land a punch on the mocking Angel. As Alfred punches, Angel does what he has been doing for weeks; he fails to watch Alfred’s feet. He does not see Alfred’s right hand until it is nearly too late, and then Alfred’s left hook smashes into his face.
Angel is surprised, and Alfred takes advantage of that; soon he has Angel “reeling against the ropes” with a bloody nose. Bud Martin calls time and Donatelli says Alfred is finally thinking and was “not bad.” From Donatelli, Alfred thinks “not bad” is as good as a gold medal.
As Henry unlaces Alfred’s gloves, he tells Alfred that was the best punch he has ever thrown, but Alfred is not sure what he did differently. Henry, with his crippled leg, shows him how he pivoted to keep better balance during the punch. Henry has been learning too, and Alfred is amazed. Seeing the incredulous look on Alfred’s face, Henry limps dejectedly away.
Alfred spars with Denny, and his quick footwork allows Alfred to avoid Denny’s punches. Lou Epstein comes to the gym to see how good Alfred is getting, and he is impressed with the boy.
While Alfred showers, Epstein and Martin reminisce about a match Epstein had with Kid Ryan. As Alfred is leaving, Epstein calls for him to wait; before he leaves, Epstein gives Martin some money to give to Ryan; he does not want to hurt Ryan’s pride and asks Martin not to tell Ryan where he got the money.
Epstein remarks that Alfred did not take his advice to quit boxing and has heard that it now takes Alfred half the time to sort the stock at the store every Monday. He asks Alfred to come to the store early tomorrow so he can begin to train him on the cash register.
Jose is slower than Angel and Denny, but he hits harder. Alfred absorbs a few punches before he figures out “the rhythm of Jose’s attack,” but once he does he knocks Jose to the mat. Jose gets up immediately, but Donatelli stops the fight and quietly tells Alfred he should go downstairs and get fitted for his custom mouthpiece.