Everyone was glad of the simplistic narrative.
In the blue corner, "The Jew", Daniel Mendoza,
upstart, pip-squeak, long-hair, coward,
he who dared to side-step, shuffle and duck,
which he called "the scientific style"
as though stepping back from an uppercut
was a marvel of rational thinking.
In the red corner, "The Gent", Richard Humphreys,
who kept an exquisite posture
even when breaking someone's neck.
It was a relief to the ruling classes
to support any pugilist who, while accounting
for his victories, remained grammatically correct.
In Chancery Lane, there was low-contrast rain;
sky, brick, cobbles, no telling them apart.
The canvas was black, torn at the edges,
strapped over crates. Half of London's wages
were on the Gent. A crowd that wet
will only find consolation in bloodshed.
Round one. The locals did not like Mendoza's way
with a quickstep, his tendency to not get punched
offended their aesthetics. Happily, the weather
was on their side. He could not duck and weave
as his feet began to pickle. The Gent landed
some chivalrous jabs to the liver.
An hour later and sixty-five rounds,
things looked different. Humphreys knelt
on the deck, bleeding from both eyes;
his nose had lost its breeding. The stains
on the canvas made a map of the new world.
Mendoza held a hand towards the sky.