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.

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