Wednesday, November 12, 2008

From Brighton to Madison Square Garden

I still don’t know whether I want to talk about my bout last week. I’ve heard nothing but compliments (“great fight, you looked good, he wanted nothing to do with you,”) assurances (“he was tall and stayed away, what more could you do?”) and verbal pats-on-the-butt (“hey, great fight, better that you had your ‘dang, he’s tall’ bout now instead of in the Golden Gloves”) from my gymmates, trainer and friends in attendance. But at the same time, I've never been more frustrated in the ring, nor grumbled more negativity (and expletives) immediately after. But then again, maybe it's good I - the one who has to learn from and build off this - am the only one with the chip on my shoulder.

The fight was basically a 30-second sequence cycling for 12 minutes, despite my very best efforts to break it. But alas, the kid had a 4-6 inch height advantage and made sure that this cycle would go on. And on. And on. Until the bell. My color commentary:

- I’d circle and move forward, he’d throw a stiff jab and step out.

- I’d stalk my way in, he’d throw another jab and step out.

- I’d lead with an overhand right (landing more often than not), move in, try to flurry with 1-2s and body shots, occasionally land some stiff shots, and have him tie me up.

- We’d step back, he’d jab and step out.

- Knowing I’d have a tough time circling in, I’d stand in front of him. He’d step in, jab and step back out.

- I’d circle, chase him, and deflect another jab…

It was very Rocky-esque. And unbelievably frustrating.

And by frustrating I mean infuriating.

Oh, and to quickly explain the Rocky comparison (they’ve been showing Rocky III and IV a lot lately and I, of course, have been watching) - I always felt like Rocky ate a lot of jabs; dozens each round for the first 8 rounds before he’d just walk through them and land 239 straight hooks and knock his opponent down. Which is kind of what I did. Only I wasn’t a bloody, battered mess. And I didn’t score a kayo. I just got jabbed…and irritated.

Anyway, my opponent wasn’t just tall, but fought tall. And smart. He kept his front leg out and straight, kept his head back, used his lord-knows-how-many inch reach advantage with a steady stream of jabs, and wasn’t scared to go in reverse at a moment’s notice. So kudos to him I guess, and a thank-you for teaching me a lesson in how to counter your stereotypical big, dumb, lanky boxer. I'm confident that, with some additional “tall-guy” preparation these next weeks, I won’t have the same problems getting inside and letting my hands go if I ever run into him or another kid that tall (and defensive) again.

Other recent developments:

- I jammed my thumb again during my bout, re-aggravating the most aggravating injury I’ve ever had. It sill flares up but is feeling better enough already that I’m not worried. Yet.

- I won’t outline the workouts, but I've been training hard and feeling very good since my bout. Given my thumb’s moodiness, I’m very timid with certain gloves and drills, but I’ve been getting my road work and cross-training in (usually the easiest workouts to neglect) and have been really pushing myself in the gym. I'm eyeing a December 12 bout and already training as if it’s my last. It's not, but the urgency and zeal is there - something I sometimes lack as I "go through the motions" of training.

- Went to NYC for the Calzaghe/Jones fight and a boozy weekend with my old roommate. I made 14,000 new Welsh friends, saw a living legend dominate a fight in the "Mecca of Boxing" and had an all-around phenomenal weekend. That, and I expensed the tickets, wahoo! Ah, boxing, bringing people together.

Speaking of great weekends, it’s becoming clear that my new job won’t hinder my training at all. AT ALL. Not only is my office located just a short walk from my gym, but my hours are pretty regular and “normal” and my co-workers are very supportive.

It’s my social life the past two weeks that’s caused the only hiccups in my regimen and given me a wee bit cause for concern that I’m building myself up but still not going to "truly" peak. My crazy weekend in NYC, Celtics and Bruins games, not wanting to ALWAYS tell friends and co-workers “nope, sorry, sparring in Brockton tonight, maybe some other time.” I guess boxing/play is a better imbalance to have then boxing/work, but, well, it’s still a problem.

But at the same time, maybe I’m just searching for problems. It wasn’t my cardio or strength or speed or stamina that frustrated me in my bout last week, it was my size and strategy – only one of which I can help. And next time, regardless of my career and hobbies, I’m training to be more than ready, so no matter how tall he is or how dumb I fight, I'm going to knock his head off.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Best Workout at the Best Possible Time

Despite having my November 1 fight confirmed last Friday - just 8 days in advance - I've been training the past few weeks with the zeal, determination and sense of urgency as if the date had been circled all year.

This has been the kind of week that really makes me wish I write in here more often. And not so there would be more content so much as more updates, especially now that I'm definitely hitting my stride. I think a lot of said updates have been shortened and thrown out on Twitter rather than developed into a brief post here. Oh well. Just know that the sweat's been pouring, leather flyin', endorphines rushin' and, most importantly, confidence building.

Recap of the workout schedule:

- Mon 10/20: 12 min jump rope, 3 rds shadow box, 3 rds sparring, bag circuit (3 rds each hook/double-end/heavy bags), ab circuit (50 each sit-up/crunches/swiss ball crunch, 3x15 roman chair)
- Tues 10/21: Upper body circuit (3x12 bench, 4x15 bicep curl, 3x12 forearm curl, 3x15 tricep pull-down, 3x12 tricep extension, 3x12 each lat pull-down close/wide grip, 4x15 shrug), ab circuit, 3 interval miles
- Wed 10/22: 4-mile jog in the morning, 12 min jump rope, 3 rds shadow box, bag circuit (3 bags x 4 rds)
- Thurs 10/23: Rest and beer, hooray!
- Fri 10/24: 12 min jump rope, 3 rds shadow box, 4 rds focus mitts, bag circuit (3 bags x 3 rd)
- Sat 10/25: Upper body circuit, ab circuit, 3 interval miles
- Sun 10/26: 12 min jump rope, 3 rds shadow box, 4 rds sparring, 4 rds focus mitts, lower body circuit (a 24-minute orgy of plyometrics, lunges, ladders, step-ups, wall-sits and everything else that makes you lose feeling in your legs and hate life)
- Mon 10/27: Rest and Tylenol and ice packs...and a beer, hooray!
- Tues 10/28: Shortened workout - 9 min jump rope, bag circuit (3 x 3 rds), ab circuit
- Wed 10/29: The best. Workout. Ever.

And by best I mean the look good/feel good/fight good/have an epiphany 'cause "damn I'm good" sort of workout that completely changes your outlook on life. (Or comes close enough.)

I strolled into the gym Wednesday and was immediately greeted by the gym owner, who said he had someone for me to spar with. (Psh, "hey, how ya doing's" are so totally unnecessary.) I stammered around for a second, thinking about how sparring this close to fight night would fit in with my regimented pre-fight schedule. (It didn't.) That, and I was physically and mentally unprepared to spar.

But of course, 30 minutes later I was gloved up and loose, standing in the red corner as the owner cleared the ring of a couple women working mitts so we could just "move around a little, real light" and "get a feel for each other." All I knew about this kid was that he was from Somerville, had been boxing for a decade, liked to throw bombs, and that I didn't particularly want to be in there anyway. But such is life in the squared circle.

The first round was as true of a "feeling-out" round for me as possible. I pawed with my jab, tried to pick up patterns in the other kid's movements, threw single punches at a time, and got a feel for this kid's speed (good), movement (head was good, feet were so-so, punches were wild) and power (solid).

While I won the first round (no, no one was scoring, but it was definitely mine - seriously! It was very Hopkins-esque) I cranked the intensity up from 7 to 8 in the second round. Instead of simply sticking, moving and counter punching, I started jumping in with combinations and pivoting/moving back out. Midway through the round, it was becoming increasingly apparent that I was the better boxer. Apparently my opponent was reaching the same conclusion around the 30-second mark but was a little grumpier about it, as he steered me into a corner (I was OK with it until...) and unleashed a barrage of haymakers that had that extra "I'm really pissed off" power and sloppiness to them.

I managed to slip/block/duck/cover-up and absorb the vast majority of the looping punches and danced back out into the middle of the ring - only after landing a stiff (cautionary) counter right-uppercut combo.

Hey, if the kid shows his teeth, I don't have to bite but I can't help but growl back...

In between rounds, the gym owner asked the kid why he was turning this into Gatti/Ward, to which I butted-in (warned) "Hey, I'm just feeding off of him..."

The third round began much like the second, with me being the less-aggressive but far more efficient and effective boxer. I kept a little distance for most of the round, refusing to engage and trade but keeping one eye on the ring timer all the while, waiting for the 1-minute mark to turn the intensity up (to an 11! this one goes up to 11!) and make my move. And an even bigger statement.

The first counter right I threw within 1 minute knocked the kid out of one of his shoes.

It knocked him out of a shoe.


That doesn't happen in real life.

With onlookers "oooh-ing," my opponent fumbled around to stuff his foot back in his shoe (picking up his dignity along the way, hardy har) and immediately bull-rushed me again. Throwing back with quicker, crisper and straighter (the real key) punches, I had the kid against the ropes - landing at will, snapping his head back and watching his eyes lose focus - when a couple of my training partners hopped up to the ring apron to make sure I was going to ease back.

I pulled off the throttle, let the kid come back to the middle of the ring and asked him if he was alright. (Hey, I can't help it I'm too nice to knock a kid out cold just sparring.) He nodded and said that he was fine, but I wasn't convinced. Dancing around him for the final 10 seconds, I landed a stiff jab at the bell to add an exclamation point to the session - to make sure that there was no doubt in anyone's mind that I was the one feeding off of him, that he escalated but I was the one not just under control, but in control.

Which - I have to point out - is as telling sign of an effective competitive boxer as any.

After getting complimented on a job well done (as well as reassurance that I did what I had to do to defend myself) I hopped on a short 3x2 rd bag circuit and worked (arguably) the best 5 rds of focus mitts with a trainer who had never held for me before. I finished the night with a quick ab circuit and stretched out well. Shirts and shorts soaked through with sweat, my hoodie didn't take the bite out of the New England wind as I walked to the bus, wondering how my quiet pre-fight saunter turned into a marathon.

From the cardio to the technique to the proven ability to dominate an experienced boxer at-will, I left the gym thoroughly exhausted and satisfied. That "feel-good" tired.

Best. Workout. Ever.

And, starting with my bout Saturday, a sign of even better things to come.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Far from the summit, but enjoying the ride

True to form, I’m continuing to update this irregularly and train even more erratically. That’s not to say I haven’t been in the gym a lot, I just have yet to find that certain groove, that brutal comfort zone of discipline and exertion that I need to be “bout-ready.” But I'm getting there.

Speaking of bouts, I’ve been eyeing a November 1 event for my "return." Yes, that’s not even two weeks away, and yes tonight I sparred for the first time in over two months, but I’m itching for a bout and feel like I’m physically prepared to get back in the ring. Besides, it’s only an exhibition (albeit one that usually draws a huge crowd) and it’ll be a good test of whether or not my experience coupled with my (still-in-the process-of-being-rebuilt) physical prowess is enough to get by on. Then again, my cardio is far from where I’d like it to be…

But I guess that’s the point. I know I’m not back to my peak, but I know I’m (well) on my way. And I’m antsy for a good scrum. So, end of the day, what’s with the second-guessing? It’s disconcerting knowing I’m not peaking yet, but maybe I’ll surprise myself. That, and a swift kick in the ass (or right cross to the chin) might be good for me – keep the fire fueled and help knock some of the ring rust off.

More than my (unfounded?) self-doubts, the main reason that I’m not locked up for the 1st is because the gym owner never asked me if I’m available, per his usual process of signing his fighters up. I shot him an email this morning and he acknowledged it when I saw him tonight, so we’ll see if something falls into place. By the way, I don’t acknowledge him as my trainer anymore – he’s got to get in the ring and, um train me to earn that title. Petty? Absolutely not – dude ain’t training me anymore.

Some bullets about what else is going on:

- My grandma passed away last week, so I had an unexpected and unfortunate trip to KC this weekend. She was 85 and had a long, happy life, so it truly was a celebration of life and good visit home, bbut for the purpose of training it was yet another unfortunate interruption. RIP Grandma.

- But back in Boston, it’s definitely working out swimmingly walking from work to the gym. Not only does it save me a round-trip commute, but it alleviates any anxiety during the day that I’ll have to skip my workout due to a late night in the office. If anything, it helps to intentionally stay at the office a bit later every night – I’ve got that much work but always know that everything will still synch up and fall into place over the course of the night. Last week I even started brown-bagging lunch and a light, pre-workout dinner, a practice I plan on continuing for the forseeable future.

- One of my sparring partners has not only begun working at the gym, but has decided to focus more on MMA. While this has yet to (and shouldn’t ever) cut into our sparring, it’s turned him into a bit of my trainer by default. He’s far more of a defensive fighter than I am and knows his stuff, so I’m optimistic that his new roles will help me a lot. Additionally, his MMA gym has recruited my old (and best) trainer to be the boxing coach there. I’ll have to see how scheduling and logistics work out, but I’m definitely excited to see how this develops and how I can incorporate some additional resources into my training.

- As mentioned in the first big paragraph, I sparred for the first time in well over a month tonight. (Hell, it’s probably been closer to two months.) I moved around with a hard-hitting brawler who never stops coming forward. And by never I mean, never ever quits stepping forward and throwing bombs. I’ve sparred with him before and usually get the better of him, outhustling and outthinking him to the point that I’m "counterboxing" rather than just counterpunching - sticking, moving, landing at will and then stepping back/out before he can even let his hands go. The 1st round was a similar story, but by the middle of the 2nd round I was slowing down and starting to get pinned against the ropes, avoiding and blocking many of his punches but getting all the more tired absorbing so many blows - counterpunching rather than “counterboxing.” (This kid is a solid competitive fighter, but, well, I can literally box circles around him when I’m in peak shape. Or not getting worn down.) I maintained my pace and output in round 3 but felt myself leaning too much, getting caught by a couple (stupid) big shots and just being a little too gassed to box effectively. But that was to be expected. A couple onlookers complemented both of us on our skillful aggression, so I didn’t feel quite as disheartened about being so gassed after three. Besides, an amateur bout’s only three rounds, so what’s the big deal, eh? Aside from constantly striving to be better, that is…

So all in all it was a great first sparring session back, the perfect measuring stick – a talented opponent pushing the pace for the entire fight, keeping me thinking and moving, boxing smart and truly seeing where I am. Which seems like a fantastic place given my recent hiatus.

I’ve got a long way to go and need to really keep buckling down – a little more attention to diet and roadwork immediately come to mind – but I’m enjoying the ride and eager to keep scaling the mountainous distractions, trials and tribulations of training.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Striking a balance

The past week+ of training has been nothing short of fantastic, thanks largely in part to quickly striking a work/play balance outside of the office. While this may sound like it's just increased self-discipline now that I'm healthy and training again (which it is), the fact that it's a work/play balance and not a work/life balance is a significant new development occurring largely because of the better logistics and culture of my new job. It's refreshing having to tell co-workers "sorry, can't make happy hour tonight, walking over to the gym," instead of calling and canceling on one of my training partners because I've got to stay late to rack up the billable hours and have it get too late (and me in too bad of a mood) to screw around with the commute out to the gym at 8:30 p.m.

Bitter? No. Just loving the new job and the newfound ability to synch up the different facets of my life - namely training consistently.

Some quick bullets regarding how the past week played out:

- Past 7 days of training synopsis:
Sunday: Upper body circuit, abs, 3-mile run
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 9-round bag circuit (3 heavy, 3 hook, 3 double-end), 3-rounds focus mitts, abs
Wednesday: Upper body circuit, abs, 3-mile run
Thursday: Rest (unplanned - flu)
Friday: Rest (unplanned - flu)
Saturday: Plyometrics, 12-round bag circuit, abs (bundled up to sweat out the flu - kinda worked)
Sunday: Crazy cardio and leg circuits with Antonio, 3-rounds focus mitts

I definitely want to start detailing my workouts (better than above) on a daily basis. I feel like typing out my workouts would help me see any possible holes in my routines and just make everything more efficient and consistent, although I'm confident that will happen on its own as my training gains some momentum. I guess putting it all out here will help keep me honest, but then again there's no lying or faking it in the ring, so...

- Being sick sucks. 'Nuff said.

- Looking to start sparring this coming weekend. That way I'll have 3 weeks of training behind me, have a comfortable cardio base and (hopefully) have some ring rust off before putting the headgear on. Speaking of which, Tommy (reminder: one of the best 140 lb boxers in the country) introduced me to a couple people he thinks would be good for me to spar with. I was glad to have my phone book expand, but couldn't help but laugh when he told his sparring buddy "Yeah, Jonathan's a good fighter. Great to spar with - real durable."

Yeah, that's right. I'm durable. I can fight the nation's best, he can hit me (essentially at will) and I'll keep right on coming. Durability - the stuff of champions, baby.

- Stayed in Saturday (after a great workout) to watch the Mizzou game (and by game I mean 52-10 ownage of Nebraska) and Boxing After Dark, which featured bouts with two fighters who are always entertaining (Yuriorkis Gamboa and Alfredo Angulo) and Sergio Martinez, a fighter I'd never seen fight before but whom I was completely impressed by. If you're reading this and aren't keeping an eye on these fighters, well, start. But then again, before long you'll be able to see shades of all three in me: Gamboa's otherworldly athleticism, Angulo's straight-punching aggression, and Martinez's blazing hand-speed and pin-point precision. That, and James Toney's love for food...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Home or Homesick? Neither - just hungry

"In the journey to be better or best, do not forget the simple joy of being."

So just this week things have "really" started moving along, work and boxing alike. In addition to maintaining my aggressive cross-training regimen and transitioning into my new job (going GREAT, thank you) I've also begun easing back into the gym. And yes, I've been going to that gym - the boxing gym - the one with the elevated ring, the bags, the musky aroma, the constant thump-thumps and electric ping-ping-pings from the bell.

Finally back and finally rolling, thanks largely to my improved health and the fact that, from work, it's a shorter walk to the gym than the bus home. I've been itching to get back in the gym for weeks and couldn't possibly get this ball rolling any sooner. However, after a couple days of solid workouts, my training campaign was (per usual lately) interrupted by a 5-day trip to Kansas City for my best friend's wedding.

And wowee what a trip it was.

But at the same time, I feel like it kind of triggered a mid- mid-life crisis. Nothing big, so much as a little nostalgia.

And a lot of introspection.

I've lived in Boston for 5 happy years but I still consider KC home. And of course, home is where the heart is. As such, when you go home, see your family and closest friends, hit your town and have (hands-down) the best long weekend of your life, you can't help but be sad it's over.

And by "it" I mean more than just the wedding weekend.

Since last weekend my memories > emotions > thoughts have traversed every corner of my meandering 23-year life. And this isn't one of those cliche, Hollywood-esque "what's it all mean? what's it all for?!" self-examinations. Everybody wants to win at something, everybody wants to belong, everybody wants to be happy, everybody grows up, gets older, reality and your fat genes set in yadda yadda yadda. I know.

But this is different.

I miss Kansas City. I miss my boys (and girls - especially a few bridesmaids, hardy har) and family and dog and baseball team and food and the smells and the seasons and everything back home. I wonder whether going to Mizzou would have been better for me than BC (in the sense of life leaning more towards weekends like the last, of course) or what course of life decisions would have been best for my boxing career or on and on and yadda yadda yadda.

But then I wonder if, no matter what I did up to this point in life, I'd be as happy with my job, apartment, friends, hobbies, lifestyle, my everything that I've got going for me in Boston. Because I'm happy here.

At least I think am.

I feel like I am...

What should make someone happy? What makes me happy? What makes/should make/would make/could have made me happiest? Am I happiest? Will I ever know? And even if I did, then what?

I'd keep on...keepin' on, I guess. What else is there to do? What else would I need to know?

Well I'm (obviously) not there yet. But I know how I've felt this week, in the ring and just thinking about it. I know I'm hungrier than ever. I know what I want to accomplish and I know how I'm going to do it.

I'm going to train. I'm going to fight. And I'm going to win.

Because I know boxing makes me happy.

And because I know that there's nothing that's stopping me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New (slow-moving) beginning...

So, unfortunately (always great to start a piece with "unfortunately," huh?) there's nothing new to report on the boxing front. My thumb is still creaky - better, but still a bit creaky - and I haven't put my gloves on in almost 6 weeks now. However, I'm still cross-training actively (not even going to bother posting my schedule and routines, just trust that I'm aggressively hitting the gym and road 5x/week) and am ready to hit the ground running once I get back in the gym. Which will now be sooner rather than later because...

I just changed jobs.

And I couldn't be happier.

I have a new found appreciation for athletes who battle off-the-field issues in the middle of a season. While I'm (obviously) currently only an amateur boxer and more working professional than pugilist (*sigh*) I never would have guessed how tiring and time-consuming job-hunting is. The "project" and "obligations" I mentioned in previous posts was a reference to me spending every hour not at work looking for, well, other places to work. I have a newfound understanding and respect for any athlete going through an ugly divorce, a family illness, or whatever storyline the Herald or ESPN feeds you, let alone the other aspiring, full-time desk-jockey/part-time athletes.

And not only am I getting settled at a great company, but my office is just a 15-minute walk from my gym. So no more setbacks or excuses.

The distractions are behind me. Work, while new, seems to be in order. Thumb is healing. Logistics are in my favor. I'm hungry, I'm in-shape and good lawdy am I restless.

Hopefully this is the last - no, this is the last - post illustrating my "out-of-gym" shenanigans. Not only will I have the time to update this more often, but I'll be able to actually, well, update it with progress and new developments.


These past two months have crawled by, but now, it's truly a new beginning.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Shortest Post to Date

It's been too long since I wrote in here and I don't have much of anything to report, so I went ahead and named this the "shortest post" in advance.

Slowly but surely my achy thumb is feeling better. I've been cross training actively - lots of body weight exercises, plyometrics and running 4-6x/week - but I've made sure to shut everything down at the first sign of pain. My first trainer always told me that the most important thing you can do when training is "listen to your body." I think he kind of used that as an excuse for skipping a tough workout, but I've adopted it as a mantra as I turn the intensity back up.

I actually wouldn't even call my thumb painful at this point - it's more like a dull but frequent soreness. So that's promising I guess. I'm going to try a bag workout tomorrow and see if it still throbs on contact. It will be my first true boxing activity in more than a month. My fingers are crossed that it's pain-free.

Looking at the situation in as positive of light as possible, I think this injury came at a relatively good time. It always stinks having setbacks and injuries, but I have a major project in my life right now (will reveal it at the appropriate time - hopefully soon) that would have thrown off my schedule anyway. All of my setbacks and other "life" obligations decided to strike at once and so I guess I'm "fortunate" they piled up while I was injured. At the same time, it's unfortunate that they're happening at all. But I guess that's what determination is for.

As I revamp my training I'm going to revamp my posting. Promise. My recent "big boxing push" is still very young and has already encountered a number of obstacles, roadblocks and nuisances, but I have reason to believe that my feet (and thumb) are back under me and that there are good times in the squared circle right around the corner.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thumbs Down

Haven't written because I haven't been training.

My thumb is officially an issue. Tested it sparring a couple weeks ago, bumped it (didn't jam it, just made contact parrying a punch) and felt another electric pain in the base of my thumb. Could put some weight on it, but it was unbelievably sensitive to the touch to the point that I decided to just shut it down. Have cross trained a little since then, but not nearly as consistently as I'd like (need) to. Too broke and busy to get an MRI or X-Ray. A doctor would probably just tell me to shut it down and throw a splint on it anyway, so I saved myself the doctor's bill and took those steps myself. Time and relative rest does seem to be helping it heal, but the fact that it still has pain "flares" after 2 weeks (more than a month since it was initially injured) is troubling. Whatever.

You have no idea how irritated I get when I nudge it on something and have napalm shoot through the nerves in my hand. Fuming just thinking (and writing) about it. Which is silly. But I'm that frustrated and that restless to get back in the ring. Anyway...

This blog was founded largely to document how my profession would mesh with my boxing conquests. Well, right now, there's no meshing. It's been straight, pure conflict. And while I still love what I do in the office, well, I love what I do in the ring a bit more. Is that so wrong?

Work is throwing pretty long hours my way and it has become a chore to find the hours to even get to the gym during operating hours, let alone have the energy to drive myself to complete a full, satisfying workout. Perhaps it's a blessing in disguise - helping me avoid weight and contact and allowing (whatever the hell's wrong with) my thumb to heal. Or perhaps it's a royal pain.

Definitely feeling the latter.

Yesterday I canceled my August 15th fight. Haven't been training, definitely won't be "fully" training this week either, and I refuse to rush myself into a bout knowing beforehand that I'm incredibly unprepared. And hurt.

I mean, obvious decision, right? I don't know why I keep tying so hard to convince myself that it's the right decision.

Oh wait, I know why - because I don't want to.

But I need to. Need to heal. Need to train. Need to clear my frustrations, get on a better, more consistent schedule with a trainer, discipline myself now so I'm disciplined when I'm preparing.

Need to get back in there.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Quick hits

Training has taken a detour (but still moving forward, mind you) for a variety of reasons, but I'm definitely about to regain some momentum. Some quick bullets:

- I've suffered a number of boxing-related injuries before, but whatever the hell I did to my thumb a couple of weeks ago definitely qualifies as the first of my revamped amateur campaign. After finishing a "typical" aggressive Sunday sparring session (did well and felt even better) I took my 20-ouncers off and found my left thumb throbbing. Howling. I didn't remember jamming it awkwardly while sparring, but clearly, well, I did something nasty to it. It swelled up and could hardly hold any weight for a couple of days, and now almost three weeks later it's still sensitive to the touch. I've been reluctant to hit anything firmer than a focus mitt from fear of re-aggravating it, but I'm definitely near the point of considering myself cleared to resume my full training regiment (namely sparring) and all the while am incredibly anxious that this will be nagging for awhile.

And no, I didn't get it checked out by a doctor. It's a thumb. Small joint, lots of nerves and tiny bones. Whether it was a break, a chip, a crack, or (the likely culprit) a sprain, there's nothing a doctor can do besides splint it and tell me to not use it. Which I did on my own. Kthanksbye.

- While my thumb woes effected my workout routine and efficiency, it did not alter my training schedule. I've been doing more plyometrics and cardio circuits and have used bag gloves for most of my workout to keep my fist uber-tight and ensure that my punches are landing on my knuckles accurately, far far away from my poor, aching thumb. I've had a healthy dose of weights and roadwork as well, which is an aspect of my training that I want to keep consistent. In all, I don't think I've lost much physically the past couple of weeks. Definitely not peaking, but certainly not declining, either.

- Between nursing my thumb, long hours at the agency, and indulging in the pleasures (read: vices) of summer I'm quite proud of myself for how well I've maintained my training regimen in the face of so many scheduling land mines. Company summer outing? Wake up at 5:30 a.m. and run. Four-day 4th of July weekend on Cape Cod? Train the 3 days immediately before and after the vacation so I utilize both the rest during the break as well as the"freshness" immediately after. Hooray self-discipline!

- Looking forward to watching Wladimir Klitschko fight Saturday afternoon. I've been a big Klitschko fan for a long time in spite of him becoming a frustratingly inconsistent fighter the past couple of years. I'm not a big fan of heavyweight bouts anyway (especially when junior welterweight - super middleweight are as stacked as they've been in recent memory) but I've just always enjoyed rooting for Klitschko, the athletic specimen with a PhD, and really the only heavyweight who stands out as a true talent worthy of being called "champ." I hope he dispatches Tony Thompson quickly and convincingly to, well, convince the world that he's on a level far-and-away higher than the other "contenders" in the weak division.

It looks like it will be mid-August before the next opportunity for a bout rolls around, which should be the perfect timing for me to be healthy and in top-shape again. In the meanwhile, I'm looking forward to picking up the pace and tackling the work I have in front of me.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friend or Foe?

My bout Saturday went very well. I bussed out to my gym at 11 a.m. and carpooled to the host gym with my cornerman (a kid named Dante I had just met, but he knew his stuff) and a couple other training partners from my gym who were fighting. I don't know whether it was the smaller, more laid-back crowd and atmosphere or the fact that it felt like just another lazy Saturday afternoon at the gym, but my preparation immediately before my fight was much more relaxed and smooth than in my previous fight. Perhaps the most interesting pre-fight experience was talking with my opponent for over an hour immediately before we squared off.

I was scheduled to fight fairly late on the card, so I made myself comfortable in the auditorium and watched some of the early fights. It didn't take much small talk before I learned that the kid sitting next to me was my opponent. With the circumstances of our meeting out in the open, I knew that our conversation could go two radically different directions. So what do I do? I laughed at the irony and continued to chat with my fellow combatant. From recalling past bouts to commentating the fights in front of us to subtly scouting each other (I made sure he wasn't a friggen southpaw) we discussed each other's boxing careers and preferences as if we were old acquaintances. The only reason our conversation ended was because I had to leave to go get ready to, well, kick his ass.

Odd? I don't know, you tell me. A great way to stay relaxed (being nervous before a fight is, hands-down, the easiest way to needlessly waste a ton of energy before a fight) and pass the time before my bout? You betcha.

Learning from my mistakes in my previous fight, I intentionally shortened my warm-up, essentially cutting it in half. 2 rounds of jump rope, thorough stretching, 3 rounds of shadow boxing and 2 rounds of light mitt work was all I needed to have my blood pumping and muscles loose and enter the squared circle in my fightin' state-of-mind.

I doubled-up the fist-pounding with my opponent (friend?) in the center of the ring, once when we received the ref's instructions, and a second time during the opening seconds of the 1st round. The opening minutes went as expected - feeling each other out with prodding jabs and diving in and out for quick exchanges, but never completely committing or loading up on one punch. The kid moved very well though, and definitely had an advantage over me in terms of raw hand speed. Or at least, that's what it seemed like before I realized in the 2nd round that it was a matter of timing - he had figured me out between rounds and now wouldn't let me get any closer than jabbing distance without sticking a 1-2 in my face.

Despite losing round 2 on points (my corner confirmed my gut feeling by greeting me with "he didn't like you getting inside, so he didn't let you that round - you need to fix that" as soon as I was on the stool) I had landed enough clean power shots that I still felt good. I entered the 3rd round with my confidence up, plenty of gas in the tank and the assurance that I, too, was figuring my opponent out.

The 3rd round started with another touching of the gloves (love fest!) and passed quickly, a long cycle of circling in the middle -> quick exchange -> working into the corner -> big exchange -> off the ropes and back in the middle of the ring. I felt like I definitely caught up on points in the 3rd round, but the fight was an exhibition so there wasn't a decision. My corner man and teammates all said I looked really good, and I felt the same way. I fought a smart fight, picked my spots, didn't eat any big shots, wasn't marked up, and, had it been scored, kept it very, very close. In all likelihood my opponent might have eeked out the win by amateur scoring, but I truly believe that I would have won comfortably had it been scored like a pro bout - which, against a very experienced opponent in just my 2nd fight in over a year, is fine by me. It was an exhibition, and I exhibited skill, ability and athletic prowess. More importantly, I learned from the experience, so it's all good in my book.

In retrospect, I really think I lacked killer instinct in that bout. I don't think this can be attributed to me becoming acquainted with my opponent immediately before the fight (though that definitely didn't help) so much as the setting - the small crowd, rundown gym and afternoon event just put me in too much of a sparring session state of mind. Regardless, it was great experience, and I've piggybacked off the positives to have a phenomenal week of training. It's now embedded in my mind to stay hungry - train for the kill and don't hesitate to move in for it when you see the opportunity.

Momentum is building. Good things are happening and great things are on the horizon.

More to come soon.

Go Royals. God bless.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Short Notice

My amateur boxing career is officially getting interesting. I went to the gym with my sparring partner last Saturday and ran into my trainer, who asked about my availability for bouts on June 21 and/or 27. Having discussed my scheduling conflicts on Fridays with him before (my increasingly late nights in the office and lack of a car prevent me from participating in most Friday events from fear of missing my ride or even the fight itself) I began to say "no, I'd like to, but I can't commit to either of those dates." My trainer pointed out that the 21st is a Saturday (and that the bout isn't Friday the 20th like he had originally told me) and encouraged me to fight. And thus, for the first time, I took a bout on one week's notice.

While I am obviously not a world-class pro that needs 3-6 months notice to properly train for a title fight, my training schedule has been erratic since my last bout, and having more than 7 days notice would have been nice. I am by no means in better shape now than I was a month ago, but at the same time I have maintained my conditioning enough that I'm confident a regimented week will let me adequately prepare for a fight. And I think that's my only worry - that come Saturday I won't be fully mentally-prepared, won't completely trust my body and I'll end up hesitating too much during the bout and absorb some unnecessary punches.

But then again, is there a better way to build on a successful fight than jumping right back into the squared circle?

With an above-average physical base, my training schedule the week before this fight (no weight requirement) will look like this:

Saturday: 4 rounds sparring, cardio/leg circuit, plyometrics, abs
Sunday: Weights (high-rep upper body circuit) and 4-mile run with wind sprints
Monday: 20 minute jump-rope, 4 rounds double-end bag, 4 rounds hook bag, 6 rounds heavy bag all with aggressive pace, 3 rounds focus mitts, abs
Tuesday: 4-mile run with wind sprints, Celtics game (World Champs, baby!)
Wednesday: 6 rounds sparring, 3 rounds focus mitts, cardio/leg circuit, abs
Thursday: light plyometrics, short jog
Friday: rest
Saturday: kick ass

All of this worked around 9-11 hour workdays. Bleh.

I'm truly happy that my trainer is encouraging me to fight so often, but I just hope that this quick turnaround turns out to be a positive, confidence-boosting experience instead of a tough bout that leaves me stewing for the next couple of weeks.

All I need to do is make sure that it's me - and not my opponent - that dictates the outcome of the fight and how I proceed after.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Off and running

I feel bad for not posting the results of my fight in a more timely manner, but, well, you see the rate at which I update this. My hectic life aside, not only did it feel good (correction: great) to get back into the ring, but it felt...normal. And real.

I must admit, I'm a bit surprised that I don't have the motivation to write some elegant prose about my bout experience back on the big stage (fine, maybe not that big, but it was legitimately a packed house) but I feel like that would just be a bit too melodramatic. The bout really went that well, and it really did feel that normal.

I arrived at the gym about 6:30 on Fight Night, thinking I'd be the last one there since all the fighters were supposed to report by 6:00. (Work, again, getting in the way of boxing time, but I knew I was not fighting until late and I'd be OK.) Like any good boxing event, the first fight started about 45 minutes later than it was supposed to. I settled in with my Sports Illustrated, fruit and Powerbars, and tried to pass the time in as relaxed of a state as possible before it was my time to get loose.

I went through my normal pre-workout warm-up routine, wrapped my hands, shadowboxed, and worked 2 rounds of focus mitts with Hector during the last 2 rounds of the fight immediately before mine. I didn't particularly like how fast, hard and active he had me working to get ready (he seemed more pumped than I did) but I walked to the ring loose, in the zone, and well-prepared to crush some skulls.

After noticing that the kid was about 3-4 inches shorter than me but was built sturdy and thick, I decided that it would definitely be a good idea to use the 1st round as the proverbial "feel 'em out" round. I spent the duration of the 2 rounds moving, circling away from his right hand and peppering him with 1-2's after his lumbering power punches careened off of my arms. Besides a couple of cheap shots (and they were cheap, damn it) breaking from the clinch (kid wouldn't stay off of me!) I don't think he hit me cleanly the entire round.

I went back to my corner feeling confident. A guy who I had never seen before (nor have seen since) was in my corner, with a kid named Joe from the gym helping (pamper me) with the chair, towel and water. Suddenly, my old buddy James (remember him from my 1st good workout when I started training again?) hopped up on the apron and spouted some advice between F-bombs. The strategy was simple: abandon the jab, quit dancing so much, throw lead right hands, and take it to this kid.

And take it to him I did.

The 2nd round was an absolute slugfest, with me doing the slugging and the poor kid throwing an occasional straight right to push me off of him. Leaping in with a lead right, I would string 4,5,6,8,12, Lord knows how many power punches together before hopping back out of range. Somewhere along the way I caught a stiff right hand across my nose (kid hadn't hit me much at this point, but when he did, damn it was hard) and began bleeding out of it. But then again, I've had people fart in my general direction from a block away and my nose has started bleeding, so I wasn't worried.

After picking my opponent apart for 2 minutes, the bell sounded and I turned back towards my corner smiling (ear-to-ear, baby). It was as perfect of a round as anyone could ever ask for without knocking their opponent out.

The 2nd break went very similar to the 1st: lots of swearing, Irish accents, squirts of water, and a towel shoved up my nose to stop the bleeding.

The kid was slow to come out of his corner at the start of the 3rd round, but when he did, he threw a curveball that I never recovered from: he switched up and boxed southpaw.

And I HATE southpaws.

Between a little fatigue and a lot of hesitation/overanalyzing my opponent's newfound left-hand, I spent the 3rd round standing in front of the kid far too much and throwing far too few punches. A couple buddies in attendance would later swear that I still won the 3rd round ("you easily took the first 2 rounds, and you at least got a draw if not won the 3rd") but as I went back to my corner after the final bell - my nose an open spigot of blood - I was nothing short of pissed. A dominant performance squandered by a sub-par final round. After dropping a few F-bombs of my own, my cornerman stuck the blood towel in my face and laughed "wipe this off, you won that fight. You won that fight!"

And I did.

While I was far from perfect throughout the entire match, I truly could not have asked for a better performance in my first bout "back." I put on the fight of the night (ask the gym owner - who hugged me and told me "fight of the night!" - or the dozens of gym members and spectators who told me likewise) with a technical, well-rounded win. Perhaps most importantly, I also discovered a number of areas that I need to correct before I compete again, namely making sure I don't square up so much, I prepare to throw non-stop for 3 rounds (rather than box for 3 rounds, and there IS a difference) and make sure that I rig the draw so my opponent is NOT a friggen lefty.

I'm truly off and running now with my competitive boxing career. I was back in the gym the next day, and while work and Celtics/Red Sox games have impeded my immediate training schedule, as of this weekend I am back on track and already have a couple of prospective bouts lined up for the end of this month. But more on that later. Right now I'm going to go revisit my last bout again - warming at the memories of my mind and body working as one as I landed combinations and the crowd roared, basking in the mountains of post-fight praise, and most importantly, taking notes on what I need to do to elevate my game to where I know it can be.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

All I Need to Know

I don’t know how or why these huge hiatuses between posts keep happening. It’s not like I forget about my blog, or don’t have thoughts or ideas for it throughout the week. I guess the lack of internet at home combined with my job requiring me to, um, write all day, makes for a nasty combination of procrastination and a lack of time at home that claims writing here with any consistency as a victim. Oh well.

I am officially on the board to have an exhibition bout this Friday. The gym and its competitive team are now sponsored by Powerade, which is exciting. There are all sorts of banners around the gym advertising Powerade and Friday Fight Night, so there’s a very cool feel around the gym – a professional aura in the rusty, dank Allston gym.

My opponent’s name is Sean Mullen and he is fighting out of Whitman, which is near Brockton, which is Home of the Champions. And that’s about all I know about him and his hometown. I don’t know whether he’s experienced or not, orthodox or southpaw, a boxer or a brawler, hell, I don’t even know how many rounds we’re going. Don’t know what I’m going to wear, whose gloves and headgear I need to borrow…

All I know is I’m fighting Sean Mullen from Whitman in an exhibition bout at approximately 9:15pm this Friday, May 16th.

And I can’t wait to whip his ass.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Let's do this...

I am tentatively scheduled to have a bout May 17. My opponent is still TBD, but my trainer approached me and told me he wanted to get me some competitive action ASAP. This will be my first bout in almost 15 months, and it couldn't be coming soon enough. More details soon, but things definitely are picking up again...

To steal my father's patented exclamation: "HOO-AH!"

Friday, April 18, 2008

Quick hits

No time for an intro - just some bullets while I have the internet. (Ha?)

Seriously though, nothing too big happening in my boxing conquests, but want to work in some quick hits.

- The Cotto card last weekend was well worth staying in for, although my picks were a bit off. Miguel Cotto was just too bad ass for Gomez, completely outclassing him with a dominant win that resulted in a doctor's stoppage midway through the fight. I don't think Cotto broke a sweat (literally) until the 4th round.

On the undercard, I was wrong in predicting that Kermit Cintron would be able to stick around long enough to outbox and overpower Antonio Margarito to win the big rematch. Margarito was just too aggressive and is clearly the stylistic nemesis for Cintron - a strong puncher that constantly comes forward and makes his opponents box like amateurs. (Seriously! You would have thought Cintron had a 20 lb. dumbbell attached to his head for how much he dropped it.)

While both fights were somewhat lopsided in outcome, they were very entertaining and set up a potential classic in July when Cotto/Margarito square off. Should be orgasmic.

- I'm going to skip over the plot of Bernard Hopkins fighting Joe Calzaghe this weekend - if you don't know the history of each fighter (correction: legends) then shame on you. (Check out the articles at's chic "Fight Credential" to be brought up to speed ASAP.) B-Hop has been one of my favorite fighters for a long time, but I think this will be a tough fight for him to win. "Slap"zaghe has mind-numbing hand speed, and likes to square up on opponents and let his "double barrel" action pick them apart. He has dispatched some of the best super middleweights in the world and just seems like a nightmare for Hopkins.

...but that's what experts have said about many a confident champ before they duel with B-Hop. As much as I can see Calzaghe winning a decision simply by beating Hopkins to the punch (literally) for 12 rounds, I just think Hopkins is too crafty, experienced and in-shape (do you realize what this man's camp is like?! and he's 43!) to not weather the barrages and land enough of his patented counter rights to win a CLOSE decision. Whatever the outcome, this fight is a once-in-an-era match-up between two of boxing's best living legends.

- There's really not a lot to report on my front - probably why there's so much above about the pro fights I've been excited for. I've been to Allston twice the past two weeks, but have been working out on my own the targeted 6x/week, so at least I'm still progressing. (I like to think so, at least.) I think my mixed motivations (not wanting to ride the bus for 1 hour round-trip but still wanting to work out) comes from the lack of a mentor-like trainer at my new gym. I keep harping on this, but, well, if my technique is going to plateau right now, I feel like I can get myself into better boxing shape on my own schedule than working around the commute to the gym. We'll see what happens to my schedule as the weather continues to warm up and I'm not having to battle the miserable Boston winter on my way to/from the gym.

- I'm sparring with Antonio tomorrow, and we're planning on going pretty hard. This will be a good measuring stick for how far my fitness and athleticism will take me while my technique stagnates. (Sorry, I just can't shake the feeling I'm developing bad habits. My previous trainers made me a machine and gave me the confidence, ability, and raw boxing skill and know-how to pummel people. It's not a coincidence that my best boxing has been when I, um, have a trainer investing himself in me...) It'll also be good to see whether or not my work ethic can trump Antonio's speed. Pound-for-pound I'm one of the strongest and hardest-hitting fighters in the gym, so if I can just get my body to the point where my hands and angles are a wee bit quicker and sharper like, look out.

Have a good weekend, y'all. Go Royals.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


So this time it hasn’t been a lack of activity so much as a literal lack of Internet that has kept me from posting in a timely manner. My roommate and I canceled our Internet service because it didn’t work half of the time and, even when it did "work," one of our neighbors had an unprotected signal that somehow trumped the connection our router provided. So since there was no reason to continue paying for our crappy Internet, I called and disconnected it. And of course, as soon as I cancel our service, the nice, reliable, unprotected connection…disappears. The only Internet connection I have at home is when I take my laptop over to Fenway (yes, the ballpark) and sit on the sidewalk and use their free Wi-Fi, and work has been crazy so I haven’t had a chance to put together a post until now. Thank goodness it’s warming up outside - probably going to be on my computer outside the ballpark quite a bit.

But yeah, that’s my no-Internet situation. And despite my stinginess leading me to remain disconnected, I still went ahead and got MLB Extra Innings and HBO the other day. Hmm...I'll pay for Royals games and boxing, but not the Internet. Ah, priorities.

Anyway, on to boxing….

- So Antonio has essentially become my training partner, which is working out great in a number of ways. We only meet 2-3x/week, but he has a set of keys to the gym so our workouts are usually at non-peak but super convenient times. We’ve been sparring more and more often, and it’s great work for both of us – Antonio being quicker and taking better angles, me continuously coming forward and keeping the pressure on. We’re at the same skill level as well and we both want to get back to competing ASAP, so our work in the ring is great. Ironically, we also touch base with texts throughout the week when we’re slacking, lamenting about class workloads (Antonio is a fellow BC Eagle and would have graduated with me if I didn’t graduate early) or draining, late days and nights in the office. In short, the support, structure, and intensity of having an unofficial training partner has been awesome thus far.

- I’m starting to vary the weight of gloves I use more and more, and I’m noticing the results. Traditionally I’ve trained with 20 oz. gloves all of the time, only switching to lighter gloves for bouts. Lately I’ve been using 16-ouncers when I work the focus mitts or spar. Not only is my speed and stamina noticeably increased (as it should be) but I’m having better success coordinating my footwork with my upper body movement. I definitely need to keep altering my glove weight with my workouts to develop consistency and continue to keep my body, timing and technique on the same page.

- The lack of a trainer who’s involved with my day-to-day training and workouts (like the ones I’ve had, um, everywhere else I’ve trained) is really starting to become frustrating. I’m getting back into competitive shape and the quality of my sparring is definitely getting me back to where I want to be, but there’s no way I’m going to truly peak at this place until a trainer, well, trains me. There are a couple of “assistants” who are helpful holding focus mitts, but there are only 2 true trainers here, and they’re always on their way out the door by the time I arrive around 8 on weekdays. Some of the competitive guys are helpful when they’re watching or in your corner, but at the same time, it’s just not the same as having a good trainer, let alone a trainer at all. More on this again soon…

- There are two fights this weekend that I’m incredibly excited about: Miguel Cotto vs. Alfonzo Gomez and Kermit Cintron vs. Antonio Margarito. Not only are these fights on the same card, but they’re sure to be entertaining barnburners – enough so that they prompted me to get HBO to make sure I could watch them. I think Cotto will outclass a game Gomez (I don’t know whether I underestimated him against Gatti or Arturo was just that far past his prime) and knock him out late or win a pretty lopsided decision. I'm a big Cotto fan, and would love to see him dominate Gomez and get a shot at Mayweather. Lots of people like Margarito to win again in his rematch with Cintron, but I think Cintron is an infinitely better boxer than he was in 2005 and will put Margarito on the canvas. This fight should be a war, and I think Cintron’s strength advantage will be the difference. You heard it hear first, but also check out this blog (great site - I check it out all the time) for a more detailed analysis. I agree with their breakdown completely, but disagree with their prediction that Margarito will KO Cintron again. Whatever the case, if you’re a fan of the sport or at least remotely interested in great fights, this card is for you.

Until I’m able to connect again to the World Wide Web, take care and God bless.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Whole Lot of Nothing

So it hasn't been a lack of time so much as a lack of activities worth writing about that has kept me silent lately. Training has been slow the past two weeks. I've only been making it out to Allston to box 2-3x/week and cross-training 1-2x/week on top of that. I've stayed pretty busy with Celtics games, March Madness, and late nights at work, but then again, I guess that's the point of this blog – it ain't going to be easy finding the balance between work, play and boxing and still trying to accomplish so much in the ring.

- I got some solid sparring in last night with two guys who will be great to work with. Vlad is about 3 inches taller than me, has great head and body movement, and hits like a mule. Antonio is about 2 inches shorter than me, has great lateral movement, and is a little quicker than I am. They both arrive late every night and are seasoned, competitive boxers on about the same schedule and skill level as me (for now). One of them has keys to the gym too, so hopefully exchanging numbers with them last night could lead to some opportunities other than just picking up a couple of solid sparring partners. I'm definitely in a groove in terms of training with the right people, and hopefully some phone calls also will make me plan workouts in advance and not ditch the gym in favor of, well, plans that don't involve me boxing.

- I've noticed that I've gotten better and better at not only predicting the winners of boxing matches, but calling the fashion in which the bout will end as well (see the Pacquiao decision in my previous post, let alone the 3 fights I've scored big on the sportsbook with this month). I guess I'm especially proud of this because boxing is televised so rarely, so most of the footage I see of a fighter is either clips, individual rounds, highlights, or bouts every couple of months that I fork over $10 at a bar to watch on pay-per-view. I'm seriously considering getting HBO and Showtime to help fix this problem, but I really REALLY hate Comcast and don't want to give them a dime more than I have to. Watching a lot more boxing vs. supporting Comcast. You decide. (I'm leaning towards more boxing.)

- Speaking of viewing more boxing, I'm going to watch Kassim Ouma fight on Friday Night Fights tonight. Not only is he a very active, entertaining fighter, but as this article will show, he has one hell of a story to tell. And unfortunately, it still hasn't quite had a very happy ending.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Quick hits

Wowee, I'm starting to neglect this thing. Balancing my job, lifestyle and (most importantly) training is tough enough as is, let alone trying to whittle out some time to make a worthwhile post on here. I think I'll try incorporating some posts with a little different format - some "quick hitters" that have bulleted thoughts, links and updates to bridge the gap between opportunities to write more.

- This has been a very inconsistent and frustrating week as far as boxing goes. Just as I felt like I had truly found a rhythm with my schedule, routines and training partners, I run into a week like this where I only made it out to Allston twice, and kept finding myself completely spent at the end of the workday before I even worked out. I must add that the two "boxing workouts" were very solid and encouraging, I lifted/ran/cross-trained two additional days, and am about to head out for some sparring as soon as I'm done with this post. Throw in the Celtics game I went to on Wednesday (played knockout on the court at halftime, too) and I guess you could say I did the best that I could with my schedule. But still - while I didn't lose any ground, I definitely didn't make any progress, either.

- Did some light work in the ring with a kid on Monday. I had a big reach advantage and moved well enough that in between rounds he had to ask "just how long you been boxing?" (Sorry, I just love "sneaking up" on people like this until I've gotten enough exposure and established myself at the gym to where everyone knows how comfortable I am inside the squared circle.) I was very (VERY) happy with my jab and stamina. I'm going to move forward with this a bit as I re-adjust my game: lots of lateral movement and angles, keep my jab in their face, use my hooks and straight rights only when I've set them up or see an opportunity to throw them while countering. I used to be a mix of a brawler and a "puncher" but I'm seeing an opportunity to re-define myself as a little more of a boxer.

- I pride myself on the fact that I never leave the gym with anything left in the tank, but I've become aware that during the process of wearing myself out, my intensity fluctuates. I feel like sometimes I'll just be "going through the motions" on a bag, instead of moving in and out with the speed and ferocity of a bout. To rephrase: I need to make sure that I am optimizing my workouts for competitive boxing and not merely getting in boxing shape. I'm by no means loafing, but I think I'm still looking for that happy medium of pacing myself throughout the (brutal) workouts to where I know that I am working the right muscles/skills the right amount for the entire workout. I have faith that over time and a couple of bouts this will work itself out.

- I think my diet is working itself out nicely, too. I have yet to implement a strict regimen, but I've always eaten very healthy, and the past month has been no exception. I've started making huge pots of beans and rice, eating it for a meal, and then storing the leftovers at work for healthy snacks/meals throughout the week. I'm eating lots of whole grain cereals, oatmeal, canned fruits and veggies, fish, sushi, chicken, turkey, hummus, pasta, and yogurt with fresh fruit. One thing I know I'll eventually have to watch: the amount of pasta I'm eating. My favorite lunch spot is an Italian eatery near my office (Viga). It's super cheap and delicious, but, well, it adds up to a lot of carbs at the end of the week that I ordinarily would not be consuming. When I need to start cutting weight in the near future, I know this will be one of the first places that becomes off-limits.

- I remember watching the first Pacquiao/Marquez fight live. It was an incredible fight, and I wish their rematch wasn't on PPV so I could watch it, but such is life. This is a much-anticipated fight, and both of these guys look to be in tremendous shape. I think Freddie Roach has supplemented Pac-Man's style enough that his strength advantage will be too much for Marquez again. For what it's worth, I see Pacquiao winning by a comfortable margin in a 12-round slugfest.

- I can only hope that the legends in this awesome article weren't the last great generation of boxers, and that some of the current superstars are as highly-regarded as these guys still are 25 years later.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Where I Want To Be

I knew Saturday's workout was going to be rough, with part of that pain being self-inflicted (pushing myself extra hard on the weekends, of course) and part of it being a result of the nature of the sport. Saturday, however, was not any old grueling workout - it was my first day sparring since I resumed training actively.

I am more than comfortable boxing (obviously) and Saturday was no exception. The squared circle, after all, is my happy place - it's where I want to be. But after almost a yearlong hiatus (has it really been that long?) since I got some actual work in (picked that kid apart, too) I was feeling some butterflies when my trainer stopped by the heavy bag I was pounding on and told me he was "gonna get (me) a little work in the ring with Tommy today." I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. After all, Tommy is one of the few people at the gym whose reputation precedes him. He is hands down one of the best boxers in all of New England, if not the country, and has the regional and national Ringside and Golden Gloves championships to prove it. And now he'd be able to add "Jonathan's first sparring partner in over a year" to his trophy case. (Ha?)

Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

But then again, Tommy is the benchmark of where I want to be: a seasoned, accomplished, highly-regarded amateur who in all likelihood will have a solid professional career. Steel sharpens steel, man sharpens man. The best way to get to where he is is to work with him and go "through" him. Right?

Boy am I far from there...

The 3 rounds weren't one-sided (honestly!) but he was clearly the superior boxer. He started each round with a series of lead left hooks, most of which I was able to catch or duck under and stick a couple of jabs in his face . My jabs stayed crisp throughout our session, but unfortunately this was my only real bright spot. To say I had ring rust would be an understatement: my game was completely corroded, and Tommy's ring savvy definitely didn't help.

I couldn't find any sort of range or comfort zone to let my hands go. I'd fall in with my right hand, was sluggish and standing too tall with my counterpunches (usually one of my strengths,) kept dropping my head, and was prone to just hide behind my guard against the ropes instead of getting my base and giving 'em hell. 2 more rounds with an uppercut-happy combatant named Hector drove home the point that I adopted some REALLY bad habits during my year off, and that I need to work out some of these kinks ASAP if I want to get back to where I was, let alone where I want to be as a boxer.

Afterwards Tommy acknowledged that he didn't hold back on me at all and that I did fine. He gave me some suggestions (namely pointing out my newfound bad habits) and insisting that I could hang with anybody in the gym. I told him about my long layoff, and how not only am I needing to get my comfort level back in the ring, but my conditioning as well. After all, there's a huge difference between plyo's/bag work/mitts and actual sparring. As I was stretching out, Tommy hollered at me from the ring and offered to guide me through an absolutely brutal leg workout.

Workout with the best to be the best, right?

My legs are still sore four days later.

But I guess there's some truth to the old boxing adage that you can't shoot a cannon out of a canoe.

Sparring and training with the best - I can't imagine a better route to take to get where I want to be in the ring. Which, of course, is having a career worthy of a fan making a baller tribute like this one on YouTube 50 years later.

Maybe expecting a career worthy of a two-part highlight is a bit much (w
hat, I can't aspire to be like Sugar Ray Robinson?) but hey, I'm on my way.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Sunny February Day...In My Boston Office

I’m feeling good today. Very good today. It’s yet another gray, chilly, melancholic afternoon in Beantown, but I’m in particularly good spirits. I don’t know which of these I should attribute my pleasant disposition to:

- Life being short (and the Royals looking to field their best team since ’03), so why not be happy?

- My increased metabolism and longer, more frequent workouts resulting in some (welcomed) residual endorphins prancing around in my brain

- Synchronizing my biological clock with well-timed caffeine consumption

- Settling into the groove of my life being “complete”

I know, that fourth bullet seems a wee bit quixotic. But as indicated in my first post on here [My (Sorta) Big Debut], boxing is my passion. It encompasses everything that I enjoy in life (athletics, dedication, accountability, camaraderie, competition…blood…strange, stale odors…) and is the sport in which my ultimate goals lie. I’m not ashamed (but am admittedly a bit weirded out) to say that the resonating pump-pump-PUMP! PUMP! PUMP-PUMP! of colliding worn leather in a gritty concrete gym echoes in my head throughout the workday. I love my job, but I love boxing more, and this is creating a somewhat odd dynamic for me during the week – I don’t spend my week (let alone a somewhat slow Tuesday like today) looking forward to the weekend, but to 7pm each night when I step off the bus and lace up my boxing shoes.

Which is exactly why I love to see articles like this article beginning to pop up again. Boxing is in such a sorry state right now (I’m sure I’ll hit on this more in later posts, but to quickly make my point, name another major American sport that will make your friends, family and co-workers say “you’re a competitive what?!” And quick: name the recognized middleweight champion. It didn’t used to be like that 10 years ago) that it truly excites me to see glimmers of hope like that article – not just for the sport, but for the kids involved, too. I’m incredibly blessed that my dilemma is convincing people that “yes I can” achieve my boxing goals while simultaneously progressing my “8-to-5” career, and not “yes I can” overcome the challenges of a poor, urban childhood in modern America and "escape" on the coattails of the American dream.

Like everyone out there, I’m just trying to “make it all work.” My job, my friends and family, my passion. Boxing. My life.

By no means do I have it rough in the meanwhile, but hell, it’s not going to be easy. At all. But I’m going to keep on keepin’ on until I’ve made it work. Yes I can. And I will.

And some people might find my goals ridiculous. Some might think this is all comical, a waste of time, a hobby-turned-obsession. A rare few might find this all inspiring, I don’t know.

But one thing I’ve already found out though, is that the simple pursuit of it all is enough to make me happy.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Back in the Saddle (And Already Saddle Sore)

So after only one week back in the full-swing of training, I’ve already learned what my greatest adversary is going to be: time. There just isn’t enough of it in the day. Monday-Wednesday was literally a 72 hour cycle of me waking up -> working -> making a pit stop at home to change and eat -> gym -> home to sleep. While the common (non-boxing) man might find this routine to be monotonous and drab, I find it to be nothing short of bliss. Seriously – words can’t describe how nice it has been getting back in the squared circle everyday. It’s just unfortunate that my weekdays no longer have time for things like, um, this blog. (My over/under for time until I neglected this new project was 6 weeks. Unbeknownst to me, it’d be a mere 6 hours before I became “too busy” to update it regularly. Oops.)

I broke my 72-hour model on Thursday when I had the lovely variation of lifting at my local gym instead of bussing out to Allston to box. Not only did I want to make sure to keep my workouts fresh and change my venue every now and then (hey, lifting’s important too) but my legs were spent from 3 grueling days of plyometrics, drills, and bag work. I’m quickly learning that there’s a fine line between drive and overzealousness that, when crossed, will take me on a fast-track to the DL. I guess it’s not exactly a problem that I have to tell myself “6 days a week is enough, Jonathan, just keep working and be patient.” The concrete floors I skip rope on, however, are already beginning to try to tell me otherwise…

I’ll attribute my kick-ass workout Friday to being well-rested. Trekking through a “Nor’easter” (it’s a blizzard, you yuppies) I was one of four gym members brave (dedicated? stupid?) enough to leave my cozy confines and workout. I couldn’t be happier that I did.

With one thing leading to another, I ended my workout by going through a lengthy focus mitt workout with a tall, Irish 20-something named James. This work-out accomplished the two things I had been so desperately seeking my first week back: to “move, feel good, feel alive, let my hands go and BOX again,” and to impress someone who is a better boxer than me. After all, I need to be “trained, not taught,” and I need a skilled/competent trainer/partner who can pick out flaws in my movements, point out opportunities to string combos together, and all in all enhance my game while wearing me out to do so.

Whether it was noticing my 20 oz gloves (most people train in 14-16 oz gloves), the pop of my right cross (“double it up, 2-3-2….ay, you hit hard”), my ring generalship and movement, or the fact that each of us wanted to ignore our exhausted, rapidly-numbing limbs and go “1 more round” ad infinitum, I definitely had a phenomenal workout with James, and based on the comments I got from everybody in the gym, made a strong impression on all. Of note was one trainer pointing out that I “looked great…have you fought before?” (ha?) and that “James is nasty…definitely stick with him.”

Ah, the breakthrough.

During my previous stint at this gym, I found the competitive talent to be very bottom-heavy, so hopefully this was the first of only a few eye-opening sessions before I’m looked at as, well, a boxer who can more than hold his own in the amateur ranks and doesn’t need to be coddled or eased along. You earn your opportunities in the ring, and I at least need the opportunity to be lumped with the “James’s” et al to earn, well, additional opportunities and avoid being unfairly tagged as a clueless new guy. I’m sure it will all work out.


I slept on my boy Bob-O’s couch Friday night since he lives 3 blocks from the gym. I don’t know whether it was the box springs on his pullout sofa bed or my berserk workout the night before, but it took a lot of effort to get up, stretch out the kinks, and hit the gym again. A platoon of fighters were leaving the gym for some exhibition bouts as I was arriving, giving me an added spark (albeit unneeded) to work hard in the desolate gym.

Ah, irony.

And envy.

And for that matter, IMPATIENCE.

All in all, it was a very solid week. My pre-training conditioning was in fact phenomenal, which is very re-assuring as I continue to, um, kill myself in my workouts and pray my body can keep up. As I mentioned earlier, all I need is time and patience…andmylegsandbacktoholdup wait, what?

Back in the saddle and on my way, baby. More updates to come, and hopefully more often.

Go Royals.

Monday, February 18, 2008


I have to admit, I'm a bit nervous about this first post. Not only is this my first (belated?) attempt at joining the global blogging community, but I feel like I need to produce a profound, mind-numbing and utterly rewarding memorandum to keep you all coming back. After all, if you're reading this first post, you probably were on the receiving end of my email blast and are wondering what exactly I have to say that's remarkable enough to bother you and most everybody else I know.

Well, as of right now, um, nothing.

But that's the point. I wish there were a melodramatic crossroad in my life that I've stumbled upon, or some epic dilemma that I'm currently struggling with that I could share with you all. But there's not. And again, that's the point. I feel like right now I have the rare (God-given?) opportunity to completely control the direction (note: direction, not outcome) of my life.

Yes, that is correct. I. Am in COMPLETE control. Of my life.


Between some new year's resolutions and sacrifices for Lent (not just for Catholics!), I have found the strength, created the time, dismissed the excuses, and amassed the willpower to kick off my campaign to become a professional boxer.

I am very happily employed at a PR firm here in Boston, and while that provides for me in every sense of the word, I still find my life to be lacking something - something is jut not right, and at the end of the day I just don't feel "complete." We all have it. That one passion, that one thing that is "it." It intrigues and amuses you, captivates and compels you. It fulfills you. Beyond the laundry list of adjectives you share with your friends to describe "why you like to ____," there is that certain intangible it factor that drives you to it again and again. And while all of my life people have told me to write (namely teachers and my Mom), it just doesn't do it for me. Writing is a huge part of my life - my Communications degree, my job, the impulse to create this blog - and I love it, I really do. But it just doesn't do it for me.

PR is my vocation, but boxing is my life.

Some of you might be saying "it is? Really? I knew you liked it, but..." And that's exactly the point. I've trained, I've stayed in great shape, I've "maintained" during frustrating dry spells of inactivity, I've waited for opportunities, struggled with logistics, failed at balancing school/job/bad habits with boxing, encountered every interference (read: excuse) in the book.

But no more.

This blog will serve as a running chronicle (journal sounds so totally junior high...) for my thoughts, actions and day-to-day life (inside the ring AND out, mind you), as well as a point of contact for you all to stay in touch and contribute whatever comments or opinions you'd like to share, not just with me but with my (minuscule now, but hopefully rapidly growing) readership. I swear this blog won't pigeon-hole itself on boxing, and while the editorial control here is supremely mine (as is my new campaign to "leave it all on the playing field of life"), I really would love to read people's comments and add an interactive dimension to this. After all, you clearly are or have been a part of my life, and that's what this blog is all about.

My subsequent posts won't all be this long, either. I promise. But then again, like everything in this world, this is a work in progress. I'd like to post once a day, whether it be an update, a monologue, a rant, a rave, or just something funny that happened. I'm bound to tinker with the format here as well - whatever it takes to keep you all (and myself) involved.

We'll see how this blog develops (again, with your help, too), but I do know that one thing will remain constant - my determination to live my life to the fullest and accomplish all of my goals along the way.

Lost opportunities never return, and I don't intend to let any more leave without me.

Go Royals.

God Bless.