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.

No comments: