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.

1 comment:

Kerin said...

Awesome, insightful writing regarding (what I consider) a brutal sport. Seriously, I can't watch it at all! But I do realize it is a sport, as well as your passion, so I support you 100+ percent and I look forward to reading more and 'watching' you improve through your blogs. Thanks for sharing.
p.s. are you STILL sore??