The Undercard
By
Josh Becker

EXT. JOE LOUIS ARENA – NIGHT

Joe Louis Arena is an enormous sports and civic arena located smack in the center of downtown Detroit, right on the edge of the Detroit River. On the lighted sign in front of the building it reads, “Championship Boxing Tonight, Johnson v. Hernandez, Plus Undercard.”

INT. PROMOTOR’S OFFICE – NIGHT

Sitting behind a large desk, with a plaque that reads, “Bob Aronowitz, Promoter,” sits BOB ARONOWITZ, the promoter. Bob is 70 years old, in pretty good shape, has a full head of white hair, is dressed in a suit and tie, smokes a big fat cigar and listens to classical music, which he vaguely conducts with his cigar. In the background we can hear the roar of a big crowd watching a prize fight.

The door opens and in steps Bob’s son, the co-promoter, JEFF ARONOWITZ, who is 45 years old, sharply-dressed in a suit in tie, and talks fast.

                                                                 JEFF
                                Two of the undercards have run short.
                                1st round K.O., 3rd round D.Q. And this
                                fight doesn’t look like it’s gonna go very
                                long, either.

                                                                 BOB
                                I’m sure you’ve got some pickup fighters
                                booked. Who’ve you got?

Jeff sits down and grins.

                                                                 JEFF
                                Jesús Perez and Tim Kelly.

Bob grins back, looking impressed.

                                                                 BOB
                                Nice. That was a barnburner for the
                                welterweight title ten years ago in Vegas.
                                Those guys gave it all they had, and then
                                some. Everybody in the front row got
                                doused with blood.

                                                                 JEFF
                                Yeah, and I think they both left part of
                                their brains in Vegas that night, too.

                                                                 BOB
                                Well, what you lose in Vegas stays in
                                Vegas, right? Man, I haven’t heard of
                                either of these guys in years. Where’d
                                you find them?

                                                                 JEFF
                                They’re both still fighting. Perez is
                                in T.J and Kelly’s back in Boston.
                                Neither guy’s won a fight in a while,
                                but they both still have decent records,
                                even if all the Ws are old.

                                                                 BOB
                                                           (smiles)
                                It’ll be fun. I’ll come out and watch it.
                                Nice work, boy-chick.

                                                                 JEFF
                                Thanks, Pa. I appreciate your appreciation.

                                                                 BOB
                                Yeah? Go take a walk around. Do your
                                job.

Jeff stands and leaves. Bob returns to conducting with his cigar.

INT. LOCKER ROOM – NIGHT

Jeff enters the locker room, and as he opens the door we can suddenly hear the huge crowd in the arena. As he shuts the door the crowd sound fades. Jeff finds four men sitting there: two on one side of the room, two on the other side. On one side sits JESÚS “THE SAVIOR” PEREZ, a handsome, rugged-looking, Latino man of 35 dressed in boxing trunks, gloves and a yellow, green and red robe, and sitting next to him is his trainer, MIGUEL, a wiry, weathered, Latino man of 55; on the other side sits “IRISH” TIM KELLY, a flat-nosed redhead of 35, also dressed in boxing trunks, gloves and wearing a green robe, and sitting beside him is his trainer, JIMMY, a 60-year-old, heavyset man, with very thick eyebrows and a red nose.

                                                                 JEFF
                                OK, you guys, you’re goin’ on. Be ready
                                in about ten minutes. Since this is a
                                televised fight, you both go from $500 to
                                $2,500, but since it’s taped and not live,
                                they may or may not use your fight in the
                                final show. I think they will since the whole
                                damn thing is running short tonight. If
                                they do air the fight you both go up to five
                                Gs. So, give us a good fight. Give us the
                                follow-up to your championship fight, cause
                                that was the shit, man. That was a terrific
                                fight. OK, good luck to both of you.

Jeff leaves.

Jesús sullenly stares at the floor, his gloves hanging limply between his legs. Miguel rubs Jesús’ neck. On the other side of the room, Tim is standing, has his gloves up and is jabbing, occasionally throwing a hook. Jimmy looks amused, his arms crossed over his ample belly.

                                                                 JIMMY
                                                           (Irish accent)
                                Aye, so here we are again, ten years
                                later. It’s like déjà vu all over again.
                                Like the man said, that was a helluva
                                fight ten years ago at Mandalay Bay.
                                A barn-burner. You boys gave it every-
                                thing, including the kitchen sink.

                                                                 TIM
                                                           (to Jesús)
                                Yeah, I never did get a chance to congrat-
                                ulate you on a really great fight. It was
                                one for the books, man. You were like
                                Roberto Duran in his prime.

Jesús finally looks up and he has a twisted, snarling scowl on his face.

                                                                 JESÚS
                                                           (Mexican accent)
                                Yeah, great fuckin’ fight. I lost my title.
                                That was the worst fuckin’ fight of my
                                whole life! That was the worst fuckin’
                                night of my whole life! Congratulations
                                to you!

Miguel ignores everything and just keeps rubbing. Tim looks honestly shocked, and Jimmy still looks amused.

                                                                 TIM
                                Sure, of course. I never looked at it
                                that way. But you did take the belt
                                from someone else before me, right?

                                                                 JESÚS
                                But not on TV and not in Vegas! No, I
                                had to lose my belt on TV in Vegas! On
                                fucking points! And a split-fucking-
                                decision, no less!

                                                                 JIMMY
                                Aye, lad, but that’s just how it goes,
                                isn’t it? Some fights ya win and some
                                ya lose.

                                                                 JESÚS
                                That’s easy for you to say, old man.

                                                                 JIMMY
                                No, it’s not easy to say. In my days in
                                the ring I took many a-beating meself,
                                but I never took it personal. It’s a sport.
                                A gentleman’s sport.

Jesús rises to his feet.

                                                                 JESÚS
                                My life’s never been the same after
                                that, man. It’s all been fuckin’ downhill!
                                One goddamn thing after another!

                                                                 JIMMY
                                Well, I’m bloody sorry to here that.

                                                                 TIM
                                                           (apologetically)
                                Hey, I lost my third defense. I only
                                hung on to the belt for six months.

Jesús turns his angry glare on Tim.

                                                                 JESÚS
                                But you took it away from me! And I
                                almost had a fucking Corona commercial!

Jesús stands, goes into the bathroom and slams the door. Miguel finally looks up at Tim and Jimmy and shrugs.

                                                                 JIMMY
                                Your man seems a wee bit angry.

                                                                 MIGUEL
                                He’s nervous. He hasn’t fought in fifteen
                                months. He’ll be OK.

                                                                 TIM
                                He doesn’t sound OK.

                                                                 MIGUEL
                                He’s an angry man. He was an angry kid,
                                too. I found him when he was nine living in a
                                rusty old car with some dogs on a backstreet
                                of Tijuana. He’d been living there for years,
                                and he lived just like a wild dog. He couldn’t
                                even remember having parents. I took him
                                in and I’ve looked after him ever since. But
                                he was so angry all the time I could only think
                                of one thing for him—boxing. So I became
                                his trainer, and I’ve been training him 25 years.

                                                                 JIMMY
                                And he made all the way up to being a world
                                champ, for a while. Well, that’s a lot more
                                than most fighters will ever achieve.

                                                                 MIGUEL
                                He loved being champ for that four or five
                                months. He was a superstar in Tijuana. And
                                he made a lotta plans based on it that he shouldn’t
                                of made. I told him to just keep his focus and
                                keep training, but . . . he thought he’d be champ
                                forever.

                                                                 JIMMY
                                Nobody’s champ forever.

                                                                 MIGUEL
                                No. Nobody is.

Jesús comes out of the bathroom, sits down next to Miguel and continues to scowl at the floor.

Jeff opens the door and sticks his head in.

                                                                 JEFF
                                OK, guys, you’re on. Let’s see the
                                leather fly.

Miguel and Jimmy both escort their fighters out of the locker room.

Our view moves to the clock on the wall—it’s 10:07.

DISSOLVE:

INT. LOCKER ROOM – NIGHT

The clock on the wall now reads 10:37 and we can hear the spectators in the arena cheering wildly. The door of the locker bursts open and in comes Jesús, spattered with blood, covered in sweat, followed closely by Miguel.

                                                                 MIGUEL
                                Slow down, amigo, what’s the rush?
                                You just won a great fight.

Jesús holds up his gloved hands.

                                                                 JESÚS
                                Quick, Miguel, gets these things off me.

                                                                 MIGUEL
                                Why?

                                                                 JESÚS
                                Just do it. Fast!

Miguel pulls a pair of surgical scissors out of his sweater pocket and snips the laces of the gloves. He pulls off the gloves, then goes to cut off the hand-wraps. The scissors hit something solid, like stone. Miguel’s eyes widen in horror.

                                                                 MIGUEL
                                These wraps are loaded. That’s plaster.

                                                                 JESÚS
                                                           (anxious)
                                Just get ‘em off me!

Miguel does as he’s told, but it’s not that easy. They hear an ambulance siren start up really loud, then recede as it drives away. Miguel and Jesús look into each other’s eyes.

                                                                 MIGUEL
                                Loading your gloves is illegal. If that
                                boy dies, it’s murder. Why? Why
                                would you do something so terrible?

                                                                 JESÚS
                                He took my fuckin’ belt!

                                                                 MIGUEL
                                But doing this didn’t get it back, did
                                it?

                                                                 JESÚS
                                No, I didn’t.

                                                                 MIGUEL
                                Then why would you do this?

                                                                 JESÚS
                                                           (dead serious)
                                It’s just the best I could do.

Finally, Miguel cuts through the palm of both plaster wraps and cracks them to get them off Jesús’ hands. Jesús points.

                                                                 JESÚS
                                Put ‘em in your bag! Quick!

Once again, Miguel does as he’s told. Meanwhile, Jesús pulls out two old, regular hand-wraps from his robe pockets and pulls them over his fingers.

Just then Jeff bursts into the room. He sees Jesús.

                                                                 JEFF
                                Jesus Christ, Jesús, what the hell you
                                doin’ in here? And why did you run
                                out of the ring?

Jesús wipes his mouth.

                                                                 JESÚS
                                I had to throw up.

                                                                 JEFF
                                That’s pretty common. Now get your
                                butt over to the green room, Teddy Altes
                                wants to interview you for TV. Go on,
                                move it!

Jeff splits.

And then Jimmy comes into the locker room looking utterly horrified.

                                                                 JIMMY
                                They’ve taken Tim to the hospital. He
                                wasn’t breathing when they put him in
                                the ambulance. His jaw and nose are both
                                broken. I don’t know if he’ll make it. That
                                was one helluva beating you gave him.
                                                           (looks Jesús in the eye)
                                I’ve never seen you hit so hard before, and
                                I’ve seen ya fight quite a few times. How
                                come?

                                                                 JESÚS
                                I had a good night.

Jesús begins to head out the door past Jimmy. Jimmy suddenly reaches out and grabs Jesús by the hands. Jimmy inspects Jesús’ hand-wraps. Jesús lets him, then brusquely pulls his hands away and exits. Jimmy turns to Miguel who is just zipping the gym bag.

                                                                 JIMMY
                                What about it? Why was your man so
                                powerful tonight, when he never has been
                                before? He ain’t even fought in fifteen months.
                                What’s the secret?

                                                                 MIGUEL
                                He trained hard. This fight meant a lot
                                to him. It meant everything to him.

                                                                 JIMMY
                                Yeah, I guess it must have.

Jimmy turns and leaves. Miguel is now the only one left in the locker room. He appears highly distressed as he stands there holding the zipped gym bag in his hands. Miguel looks around the room.

On the floor in front of the bench where he and Jesús were just sitting is a quarter-sized hunk of plaster. Miguel quickly picks it up and puts it in his pocket. Miguel turns and slowly exits the locker room. The door shuts behind him.

FADE OUT

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