Saturday, August 29, 2009

10 days out

So I'm 10 days out from the big fight and everything still seems to be hitting on all cylinders. I feel great - my stamina's up, my gloves are popping, I'm fighting smart and I just feel fresh and ready. To bullet out some random musings...

- Samson had his hair, I have my high socks. Honest to goodness, I don't box as well wearing normal socks as I do when I wear my long ones pulled mid-way up my shins. Fashionable AND functional...somehow.

- I went 8 rounds total between 3 different sparring partners this Saturday and felt fantastic throughout. What's more, I stopped a kid with a body shot for the first time ever. (Ever meaning I've never done that before in all my days and rounds.) This is a definite indicator that things are progressing. I'd be a bit more impressed with myself if it was in an actual bout and against someone other than a rotating sparring partner from my gym, but, well, this is good stuff. So here's to repeating the kayo when it counts on the 12th.

- Confession: the best part about my marathon sparring session Saturday is the fact that I went out Friday night and admittedly partied entirely too hard. But rather than having a sluggish, frustrating-to-the-point-I'm-sick (hungover) workout, I had one of my best in recent memories. That's how I know I'm ready for this bout. And yes, I realize that Saturday was me using my "get out of jail free card" and I don't plan on boozing between now and fight night.

- My two favorite combos this month:

First, is a lead hook-2. I show the lead hook, tipping the punch a shade with my shoulder and throwing it a little wide. Whether it connects for points or not (ideally it does, but it's a set-up) I get my opponent to commit to it and step in with my back foot, blasting a straight right (my ham-muh) through the shoot. This has been working incredibly effectively as of late, especially after a series of jabs that gets them cheating on the straight, peppering punches.

My other favorite is a 1-2-step-through/step-over that leads to, well, whatever punches I want - usually a big right hand, but sometimes I'll wind-up and come through with a hook to the body. I've gotten really good at hiding this movement behind my right hand, stepping through (almost hopping) and pivoting quickly, staying tight so I can get my final punch/combo off quickly and trapping my opponent behind behind my trail leg. Why I didn't toy with my footwork months (hell, years) ago, I'll never know.

- I have to renew my fight passport before the 12th and just mailed off my application today. My trainer's not worried that it'll get there, be processed and returned all in time for the tourney, but I can't help but be anxious. It'd be just my luck to find out during weigh-in that my paperwork's not in order and I can't compete. Aw hell, did I just jinx myself?

- Not having to cut huge amounts of weight is sweet. And that's all I have to say about that.

More updates as they happen in the coming days. Getting pumped...

Monday, August 24, 2009

The beat goes on

I didn't mean for it to be 2 weeks (yet again) before another update, but luckily it's been business as usual inside the ring and out.

As of today I'm officially registered for the Rocky Marciano tournament. I'll be fighting at 152 lbs. and my first bout is Saturday, September 12. The tournament is huge and the 1st round is going to be scattered across four different venues, so I'm still waiting to see my exact draw. Regardless, my trainer likes my chances to really make some noise and maybe take the whole thing (for serious) and I'm excited to fight for some hardware for the first time in 2009.

Speaking of bouts, my last one is almost an afterthought at this point, which isn't downplaying its size or outcome. For once in my life the other guy started off as the aggressor, constantly coming forward and throwing nothing but loopy power punches. And, for the first time in my life, I didn't immediately toe the line and bang with him, choosing instead to counterpunch, keep my jab in his face, build some distance with lead right hands and work some angles to outbox him until the 3rd round. By the last 2 minutes of the bout, he was tired and moving backwards, dropping his hands and allowing me to let my hands go, brawl a bit and score enough points to steal the fight. So I boxed a brawler. And it worked. Imagine that.

Since then I've been getting regular sparring in, which has been going equally well. I've been getting a lot of different looks from the wide array of skilled/sized boxers we have in the gym, so while my sparring partners aren't all tough S.O.B.'s like my last opponent, they're giving me the opportunity to continue to work on all aspects of my game. What's more, my trainer has continued working the focus mitts with me early and often, and then screaming while I'm sparring for some of the step-throughs, angles and combos we've been working on to really ingrain them in my muscle memory and make them second nature. I'm truly re-creating myself in the ring, and it's thanks to my work ethic finally getting the rounds and expert attention it's needed.

With the long workouts and increased sparring has come some aches and injuries, namely my nagging back acting up again and some soreness in my right hand. While my "ham-muh" hurting is new, my old-man's back is something I've learned to deal with, so I'll just have to listen to my body and keep on keepin' on as much as possible.

I'm going to be updating this more frequently the next 2 weeks as I gear up for this tourney. Big things ahead, people. Onwards I go...

Monday, August 10, 2009

On Track

Yeesh, just as I build some serious momentum in the ring I run off and forget this thing. Or not - I've just been devoting all my inner-Pacquiao into the gym, the road, the weights, the plyos, my opponent's dome... and, well, some stuff falls through the cracks.

But that's not to say there haven't been some good - scratch that, great - things going on though.

I had another absolute war of a sparring session last week with one of the gym's better competitive boxers. We got 6 long, aggressive rounds in (wore them on my face to work the next day too) and grabbed the attention of everyone working out in the building, including our defending national champ and the gym owner. Not only was there praise for our energy, but a lot of great feedback and pointers too.

This unsanctioned/unofficial/unplanned bout ended up snowballing into the owner and head trainer wanting to set-up regular 1-on-1's with me to wear me out on the focus mitts, yell at me ("instruct") during some bag work and just really fine-tune my game. Thus far it's been incredible and feels like the true missing link between me peaking and plateauing. So see, all I needed was a little attention and TLC to really start hitting on all cylinders...

And peaking I am. The momentum just keeps building and building and I just feel... awesome. I feel fast and strong and have some sort of reactor fueling me through some grueling workouts that, on paper, I don't get how I finish on the same tank of gas. But I do, and I do it with fervor and aggression, pushing myself at all times, wringing the sweat out of my shirts and feeling confident that my opponent can't possibly be working any harder than me. And with that comes a mental edge. And when physical prowess meets smarts and mental toughness, you have yourself one hard to manage 152 lb. farm boy.

And yes, you saw that right. Those who really know me might be aware that I've spent the majority of my amateur career fighting at 140 lbs. Well, no more. I'm too big, strong and active (read: bullish) in the ring to keep exhausting myself before the bell even rings. I've never, ever, ever EVER had issues gassing during fights, but I've been having a ridiculous amount of success lately embracing the bull rush and just outhustling, outworking and strong-arming my opponents, so we're going to shake things up and let keep some of this newly found/grown/built mass on my body. That, and my right hand is friggen' dynamite. Or as my trainer like to say in his sweet South Boston accent - it's a "ham-muh." So hooray beach muscles and food and decapitating straight rights and flurries in the corner and - most importantly - wins.

...of which I hope to tack on another tomorrow. I have a bout vs. an unknown opponent at a big show in Newton, MA tomorrow night and I'm ready for another training camp checkpoint. So for now, I need to eat a little more sushi and catch some shut-eye - I need to be well-rested to keep this freight train on track and rumbling along.