The first rule of Fightcard – you do not mess with Danny ‘The Duke’ Dugronski!
Dugronski is the hard punching hero of Counterpunch, the forth book in the Fightcard series created by Mel Odom and Paul Bishop. The man behind the pen name, Jack Tunney, for this entry is Wayne D. Dundee.
As the story opens, Danny Dugronski has just lost his trainer, and friend, Packy, to a heart attack. But he goes into his next fight without him. The fight is tough but fair, but going into the eighth round ‘The Duke’ is down on points. Summoning up a bit of grit, he goes in hard and scores a knockout.
It all seems good. That is until later – some punk knocks on his door, and hands him an envelope with two-hundred and fifty dollars in it. The punk claims it was part of a deal that Packy had arranged, and this was ‘The Dukes’ share. This angers Danny, as he knows that there is no way that Packy would have arranged a rigged fight. And secondly, the fight was tough and hard. There was no way that his opponent took a dive. Was there?
Danny follows up on this, approaching the gangster behind it all, a fellow named Malone, and tells him he is not interested in participating in any fixed fights. Later, of course, as any two-bit gangster worth his salt would do, Malone sends out his boys to rough up Danny. The thing with Danny is, that he was a Marine – and sure he knows how to fight with his fists – but he also knows other ways to fight too!
Of the elements I have enjoyed about the Fightcard series so far, is the diversity of the stories. Each writer has brought something new to the plate. If you’ll forgive the cinematic comparisons – but totally appropriate, because the stories are very cinematic – Felony Fists was like a cross between LA Confidential and Rocky – The Cutman was like a wartime Robert Mitcham film, crossed with the Godfather Part II – and Split Decision was like The Grapes of Wrath crossed with Robert Siodmak’s The Killers.
What does Counterpunch remind me of? The Big Heat. Fritz Lang’s The Big Heat, starring Glenn Ford as a relentless police detective, Dan Bannion, is one of my favourite crime films from the 1950s. Counterpunch shares more than a few similarities. At the start of The Big Heat, Bannion shares a steak and a beer with his wife. In Counterpunch, after winning a fight, Danny would always head back to Packy’s for a steak and a beer. Another similarity, is the almost relentless decency, that both men share, despite being drawn in to a corrupt world. And both men, refuse to back down, fighting for what is right – their way!
Of course, Danny is a boxer, not a cop, and Counterpunch is a boxing story, so there has to be a big fight at the end, and this has a good one. Despite being previously beaten by hoods with baseball bats, Danny has to get into the ring with a wrecking machine, known as Edgar ‘The Ogre’ O’Brien.
Counterpunch is another ‘kayo’ for the Fightcard series.
Set in Outback Australia, in Birdsville, one of the most remote towns on the planet, two rival boxing tents set up shop in competition with each other. In the sweltering heat, tensions simmer, tempers flare, and a tent burns.