Killing your friend with a beautifully executed left cross is more emotionally acceptable than suffering a knockout at his hands a full six months later. After all, the former was merely a tragic accident caused by a freak subdural hematoma. In boxing, such things are inevitable on a long enough timeline, especially when you hit like I do. That’s reality. But his ghostly image suddenly illuminating the form of a third-rate boxer taking a terrible beating at a half-empty Madison Square Garden is something else entirely. At first I thought it must be some simple manifestation of guilt, projected by my subconscious in the heat of the moment. Then he landed an uppercut that was unmistakably Tom’s. Its crisp precision and preternatural explosiveness are not something a man experiences from a tomato can looking for that soft spot on the canvas. No, that punch was much, much different. It haunted me long past the ten count, past the cries of utter disbelief from fans whose brains were rejecting my defeat, past the thoroughly bewildered look of the victor, towering uncertainly above me. It took me nearly a year to recover from the incident, during which a sympathetic psychiatrist eased my fears with an array of mind-numbing pharmaceuticals and comforting explanations. Then the big night began to loom on the horizon: my triumphant return. What with my aggressive style and ferocious power, I was something of a fixture within the boxing community – particularly after my mysterious hiatus. There was considerable press coverage, and I was offered the chance to take on a big-named opponent. We met beneath bright lights. I punished the man for six brutal rounds, alternating between head and body with absolute contempt. His grotesquely swollen face showered me with blood until, at once, it didn’t. There was Tom, grinning through his mouthpiece, bobbing and weaving, landing jabs at will. Again I found myself victim to a succession of unrelenting shots. Blindingly fast hooks rocked my body, blurred my vision, and sent me reeling across the crimson-splattered ring. “His legs are gone!”, someone shouted contemptuously. And they were. A moment later, I was looking up at a referee looking down at me. In the corner stood Tom, but he was no longer smiling. I don’t box much anymore.