In this remarkable first novel, the author takes the tired saga of the second rate fighter and converts it into a vivid, gritty experience underlying the ultimate sadness of constricted, caught, despairing lives. Such as Billy Tully, an almost thirty almost was, whose drunken focus is on a lost wife that he had retained for a time during his moments of glory; Ernie Munger a young ""natural"" who maintains a shaky self-confidence and who, in the course of the book, acquires the responsibility (a pregnant wife) that may ultimately defeat him. And Reuben Luna, trainer / manager, disillusioned but always looking for the one that will make it out of the sweaty streets and gutters of Stockton, California, all the way to fat city. The author's selective, sparse realism holds memorable moments--from the two bit bars, to back breaking days with migratory workers, to the blood and mucous ringside. A book that goes all the rounds ... and it'll carry you right along.