In April, Green tweaked his Achilles’ tendon. A $300 out-of-pocket experimental treatment that was supposed to help him recover in six weeks has not worked. The problems have only compounded, creating a host of other issues.
“I thought I was going to have to end my career,” Green said. “I kept telling Pete, ‘I don’t know if I should take this, I don’t know if I should take this.’ ”
But fresh in his mind is the promise he made to himself years ago.
“I can’t quit,” he said.
In the ring
At the opening bell, Frazier comes in throwing punches. Green cups his gloves at his nose, deflecting the attack. He always spends the first round feeling out his opponent, but in this bout, his trainers are especially sensitive to early signs. Frazier is the aggressor; Green is retreating. Several rows beyond the ropes, a tall, blonde figure is standing, sticking out from the crowd.
“Keep those hands up, keep those hands up, watch the left hook!” Frances screams.
But midway through the fourth round, the momentum switches. Green lands two right hooks; Frazier’s pants are falling off. They dance to the middle before Green works his opponent into a corner. A right jab to the face connects; it’s enough to stun Frazier for a second, which is all Green needs.
He starts the battering — 19 punches before a bruised Frazier is able to escape. Before the fifth, referee Mark Nelson warns Frazier to show him something if he’s to keep the fight going. But Green attacks again, delivering a devastating blow to the liver. Frazier wails, and Nelson comes running in to stop the match as Green, smiling for the first time, lifts his gloves and gallops around the ring in victory.
Afterward, a combination of relief and exhilaration overwhelms the locker room.
“I was scared,” Daszkiewicz says. “I was scared because I knew that Aaron wasn’t comfortable with where he was at with that injury, and he was questioning himself.”
When the celebration calms, Daszkiewicz clears his throat.
“I wasn’t going to mention this before,” he says. “We’ve got a chance to fight on Sept. 21 up in North Dakota, and I’m going to say no.”
Green, who has consumed so many 5-hour Energy shots he surely wouldn’t sleep, shrugs. “I don’t know,” he says. “I think I might be fine.”
Daszkiewicz can only shake his head.
“You see this?” he says, half-incredulous, half-impressed.
A couple of hours later, as Bauch drives back to the hotel, she looks realistically at the fight offer and Green’s injury. “I don’t want him to take it,” she says. “It’s too soon.”
So much of Green’s future is still unsure, although promising. He’s built a foundation around his career; a barrier so that he’ll never have to take bad fights, as some boxers do. Still, there’s the call of passion, an obsession that never goes away.