He took a lot of time dressing. He was after a "look," and he kept changing outfits till he liked what he saw. Whatever it was, the pants rode low, down on the hips, to expose his belly. And the top, if there was one, was a short, open fest, or a tight T-shirt top that easily rode up. Sometimes he shamelessly wore a girls' bellyshirt in the ring.
Then, after he oiled up, he headed for the ring. He always entered the same. Jeans slung low on his hips, gut thrust out, hands held up, like he was accepting applause (or surrendering). Head high, smiling, seemingly unaware that he looked like a walking target with his belly jutting out bare in front of him.
Being the "jobber" in the match, he always was introduced first. While the better-known fighter got introduced, the jobber just slouched in the corner, looking bored, pot-bellied.
When the bell rang and the fighting began, he had his hands up high, defending his face, and his belly stuck out like a hanging curveball over home plate.
And somehow, he's the only one in the arena (and in 40 million TV living rooms) who doesn't see it coming.
You know he isn't expecting it because the fist socks him right in his stomach and he doesn't flinch or brace. The fist just torpedoes his belly. It's in and out of him before the OOF! bursts from his mouth.
After the punch-jolt and the OOF! there's that frozen, silent second of winded agony. Then he goes all to pieces, grips his belly-curve with both hands and staggers around the ring at a full flounder, all grimmace and gasp.
Then he blunders back into his foe, who gives him a bop on the head to make him reflexively stand upright, and his hands go to his noggin. And while they do his rival winds up his arm and his fist does a cannonball in the wimp's bread-basket.
This time he folds right over it, busted limp in his middle, lifted to his toes by a sock in the stomach. His face is down toward the floor but still the wimp gives up an OOF! that shakes the rafters.
When the rival wrenches the fist out from up in his gut, the wimp flops to his knees, cradling his punched belly, and he keeps going down, falling, rolling, thrashing on the mat, his feet flailing in feckless kicks, his hands gripped to his soft belly. His eyes are wide in breathless panic, and his mouth hangs askew; the only sounds that come out of him are long, low belly-ache groans.
He was still winded when his rival strode impatiently up to him and kicked his forehead and knocked him flat on his back on the mat. Like the jobber he was, his hands instantly forgot about his vulnerable gut and flew to his head. He even arched his back in pain, so his belly thrust right up and out at the booted bad-man.
And once again, he seemed the only one unaware of what was on the way: the hard rubber heel of a size-12 Texas cowboy boot stamped down like a hot brand right smack in the middle of his bare belly.
In the crowd, you could feel the electric second of anticipation before the stomp, and then when the boot came down it was like a thunderbolt. The poor potbellied wimp on the mat flailed arms and legs helplessly like a broken toy. His face looked mad and it seemed like his tongue lolled out at one point.
It was painfully obvious that this beating was far past his ability to endure -- and that such ability, in his case, was embarassingly low. Yet he had put himself there. It was safe to laugh at him, mock him, enjoy his suffering.
The brute reaches down, grabs the wimp by the hair, yanks him roughly up to his knees. Jobber sags weakly, kneeling, hands up trying to ease the hairpull. His belly protrudes dutifully for the brute to draw back a leg and swing a boot-kick up into his gut.
Bellyboy hits the mat again in full-on stage-5 bellyache mode. He's flopping like a caught fish and crying. The brute does a few poses for the crowd before returning to his hapless victim, who has now gotten himself together so far as to rise to his knees on his own.
The brawler saunters up, and lays a hand on his hair. The jobber musters all he has of courage and strength and swings a punch against his tormentor's stomach. It bounces off. Swings the other fist the same way. Same result. The brute laughs, and pulls the wimp upright, swings him by the arm, and tosses him back into a corner of the ring.
The wimp turns as he stumbles into it, and hits it with his back, then slumps there, arms draped on the ropes. The thug approaches confidently. There's a lesson he has to teach this fool who took shots at his abs. He grips the wimp by the throat and bends his head back over the top turnbuckle, forcing him to arch his body, belly out. The wimp's hands are all at the wrist above the grip on his throat.
The brute holds his other arm aloft, in a fist, and looks around the crowd as if to ask, "shall I?" Whistles, cheers, shouts of "do it!" For once, though he can't see it, the wimp knows it's coming and manages to bleat out, "no, not my belly!" just as the fist hammer-drops on his stomach.
This time the bellypunch-grunt came out of him in a long, low UUH! that sounded like it started in the bottom of a kettle drum.
And there's still 15 minutes of TV time to fill until the next match!