The jab that crunched into my nose before I had my guard up was a fine lesson in the importance of being prepared, but it is not a fond memory. Getting punched rarely is. A. J. Liebling, however, treasured the blow he received from ‘Philadelphia’ Jack O’Brien, an American pugilist already in his prime when Liebling was born in 1904. Liebling saw the punch as a precious relic, linking him to O’Brien’s era and the eras before that. Just think of the greats who had punched O’Brien, the greats who had punched them and so on back in time. Liebling was proud to be part of such a passage of punches.