Moriarty the Patriot’s interpretation of the infamous Napoleon of Crime is far more “heroic” than the character has ever been. Sure, “hero” is a bit of a loaded word, but this Moriarty is not the classic bad guy he has always been. No, William James Moriarty was a man who wanted to change the world and had no problem employing severe brutality when necessary.
And according to this scene, Moriarty had always been that way.
What made “A Pound of Flesh” so engrossing was how far our titular character was willing to go. Had his opponent stood his ground, there is no doubt Moriarty would have taken his contractually obligated compensation.