Jonathan Ames's Punch-out!

Jonathan "the Herring" Ames (left) vs. Craig "the Crippler" Davidson.Photo: Alexander Birdsall

Since his New Jersey childhood, author and man-about-town Jonathan Ames has enjoyed a turbulent and well-documented side career as a boxer. In his first match, a fighter three years his senior beat the stuffing out of him. Ames was 6 years old. In 1999, under the nom de guerre “the Herring Wonder,” Ames took on David “the Impact Addict” Leslie, a friend and fellow artist, emerging from the fight with a broken nose. Last night, at Gleason’s Gym in Dumbo with friend Fiona Apple cheering him on, an undaunted Ames took to the ring yet again — this time, to duke it out with fellow writer Craig "the Crippler" Davidson in a publicity ploy for Davidson’s U.S. fiction debut, The Fighter.

The 31-year-old Canadian challenger, whose blurbers include Chuck Palahniuk and Irvine Welsh, had lost at least twenty pounds since being shellacked by a Toronto poet in a similar stunt last October. But what he'd shed in weight, he made up for in bloodthirsty, ring-won experience. Perhaps for this reason — and maybe because Ames has come to value the shape of his regal schnoz — both fighters wore Hannibal Lecter–esque masks and officials limited the match to three two-minute-long rounds. There were stretches of grappling, punctuated by impassioned flurries of punches to heads and torsos, though no blood was visibly shed. But competitiveness aside, the bout seemed to end in a draw, and as literati and topless performers applauded ringside, Ames and Davidson were presented with trophies of equal size and gilding. —Alex Littlefield