For a man who has just stepped through a meteor shower of punches, John Joe Nevin addresses the world with infinite calm.
Ireland's first medal of the London Olympics is his, but John Joe's mind settles on a story that is cruel and intensely personal. That finger raised to the heavens at the end of his 19-13 defeat of Mexico's Oscar Valdez was to a cousin who should have been with him in the ExCel Arena last night. But David Nevin, an accomplished boxer himself, died suddenly in February. He was 25.
"He was meant to be here," says John Joe. "He was booking tickets like everyone else, but just took a heart attack out of the blue. He told me I'd go all the way. It was the likes of him that inspired me."
The Mullingar bantam had too much ring-craft for the rampaging Valdez and, despite having to survive a worrying third-round knockdown, Nevin has thus assured himself of a bronze at least. He now boxes Cuban world champion and No 1 seed Lazaro Alvarez on Friday at 2.0 for a place in the Olympic final.
"This means the world to me," said Nevin. "I'd trade everything in for this."
A tactical masterclass, thus, delivered just the 24th medal in Irish Olympic history, 13 of which have now been supplied by boxing. Nevin condensed the contest down to its barest essentials. "My tactic was to go in and annoy him, I didn't want to please the crowd," he said. "I was only thinking about winning."
Valdez did momentarily threaten to throw the contest on its head, delivering a vicious left to Nevin's midriff with 50 seconds remaining in the third round that forced the Irishman down on one knee, gasping for air. The knockdown set the Mexican onto Nevin in a furious, late attack, but it was clear he needed a knockout.
With the advice of Billy Walsh and Zaur Antia carrying the weight of commandments, Nevin had boxed beautifully against an opponent with just a single, aggressive setting. And to John Joe, the fight was essentially won by his corner.
"I want to thank Billy (Walsh) and Zaur (Antia)," he told us. "They're phenomenal coaches, I think the best in the world. To read tactics and tell you how best to fight a lad... I just go along with them because they're not going to tell you the wrong thing.
"I might have been thinking different things myself, but I just went with the boys' strategy and it worked. That right hook was catching him every time. He was a tough opponent. But he was missing with a lot of shots and getting tired."
Nevin, it should be said, is no stranger to heartache delivered on minutiae and he had reason to be wary of what has been some eccentric scoring in the ExCel this past week. His two World Championship semi-final defeats were both on the back of threadbare verdicts. In Milan ('09), he lost by a single point. In Baku ('11), beaten on count-back.
That is the worry, the sometimes arbitrary flavour of ringside justice. And it seemed scarcely credible that the first round was scored even, the 5-5 mark triggering a chorus of groans in the arena. Nevin's work had, clearly, been the cleaner, Valdez often looking like a man caught in a blizzard.
John Joe's style is to jab and feint, playing picador with opponents. He delights in the chase and, when it works, Nevin can look untouchable. But the huge aggregate of Valdez's shots created never-ending danger and, for a man who admits to modelling his style on the defence-less poise of Naseem Hamed, this constituted trouble.
The worry for Nevin is always how he copes when a heavy shell lands. If his legs momentarily lose their elastic, a man with his hands down becomes an easy target. Valdez's aggression drew regular gasps from the crowd, but Nevin was sticking to boxing.
He took the second round 7-4 to set the Mexican into a desperate chase and seemed to be cantering home until that late knockdown.
In his corner, Walsh raged against what he thought initially to be a low blow. "I thought it was because I was unsighted by Valdez himself. "It was only when it was over that John Joe told me it was a legitimate punch. He did well to get up after it because he was really, really tired at that stage.
"He'd worked so hard and used up so much energy over the eight minutes. But he boxed brilliantly and totally deserved the win."
For much of the third round, Nevin seemed in perfect union with his gift, jabbing and moving, feinting and rolling, throwing crystal clean shots that flicked the Mexican's head back as if on a spring. But then, from nowhere, Valdez threw a left to Nevin's body that almost turned the lights off. There were 50 seconds remaining.
"I remember thinking, 'this is going to be a long minute'," recalled John Joe. "It was a brilliant shot and I just had to go down. Either that or get knocked out. He's a very hard hitter. He hit me a few head shots too. I knew my tactics. I didn't want to stand there with him trading shots."
But his ring wisdom, his ability to make Valdez aim at places he'd just left pulled Nevin safely through. Next up the Cuban. Anyone got Michael Carruth's number?