Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Trying to keep up - pt 1 of 2

What a whirlwind week. While I've been feeling relatively good in the ring with some encouraging results to boot, I can't help but feel a little anxious that I'm just doing enough to get by and I won't be able to keep savvy-ing my way to wins forever. (Who would have thunk we'd see the day where I ease off the gas, stop being so quick to brawl, use my head and dominate with "savvy?")

Speaking of which, the short-notice bouts continue to roll in. I was notified last Friday that I'd be fighting on December 4 and in our reality show season finale on December 11. Seeing how that's not even two weeks away, I'm officially behind and borderline desperate to get things "clicking" again - but tell that to the Dr.'s appointments, dentist drilling for oil in my gums, client projects and breakneck pace at the office. Oy. Just got to make it happen...

But to backtrack:

Last Friday I had a bout at an event hosted by my gym. Ironically, my opponent didn't show, so I was matched against a stablemate in a similar situation. I had never moved around with him before, but he's had some amateur success and is graced with - without a doubt, far and away - the fastest hands in the gym. Unfortunately, until I can post the video (and there will be video - this was recorded by a trainer as well as the TV crew) I'm stuck giving you the Reader's Digest version.

Round 1 was very much a feeling out round, with me gauging just how much faster he was than me (a lot) and figuring out what it will take to pin him in a corner, lower his work rate, slow down...anything to get him to keep his hands still and by his chin. Fortunately (for my face as well as my strategy) he wasn't one to push the tempo, engaging me at a pace that was borderline lazy. Noticing this early, I made sure to flurry the last 30 seconds to steal some points and the round.

Whether he got tired, lazy, comfortable or intimidated by my pop (the ham-muh was singing!) his work rate decreased further in Round 2 and I was able to consistently throw first. And since he was letting me get off first, I made sure to get off often, keeping distance with my lead right, sticking a healthy diet of jabs in his face, and pouncing in and out with 5-, 6- and 38- (if only) punch combinations.

Round 3 was a repeat of Round 2, only more lopsided in my favor. I kept my defense tight and feet moving to make sure we only engaged when I wanted to - we either traded individual punches at a distance or I was able to open him up, flurry in close and then quickly escape back out behind my jab. After the final bell, my corner and random spectators alike were telling me I "beat him up" - which, when going against a speedster, means a lot and is an indication of just how well I was able to neutralize his speed and fight my fight.

Another interesting comment I kept hearing was that I "looked so relaxed." I think that explains why I surprised myself with how much I had left in the gas tank. I also think it's a completely overlooked aspect of amateur boxing. There's no better way to tire yourself out, start lunging and getting sloppy than tensing up in the ring. It used to be a problem of mine, but I think time, experience and mental as much as physical preparation can help anyone stay calm, loose and composed in a bout, with far-reaching benefits.

Anyway, that brings us to a little over a week ago. Both a lot (sparring a nationally-ranked boxer on camera, learning about my two bouts early next month) and surprising little (um, not nearly enough time in the gym) has happened since then, but I want to leave that for another post this week. After all, with the holidays I'll definitely have time to crank out some more content, as well as (finally) tweak some visual stuff on this sorry-looking site.

You have to catch up with yourself before you can keep up (and move ahead) of the pack...

Until then, allow me to pose a question for the comments section: how would you fight a much taller opponent? And don't Google it - I'm much more interested in your experience, whether it be an in-ring lesson or outside observation. My answer (and rude awakening) coming later this week...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Preparation is key

I'm a creature of habit when it comes to the 36 hours immediately leading up to a fight. Last night, however, I had no choice but to break my rituals.

After swinging into CVS to buy a protein bar, banana, sugar free Red Bull and my other pre-fight necessities, I walked home and went to unlock my back door...when I couldn't find my apartment key. Key chain? Check. My apartment key? Nowhere to be found.

Thank you, Murphy's Law...

I call my roommate and of course, she isn't answering. I have someone let me into the building itself, drop my goodies off at my apartment door and do what any decent, patient man would do: walk to my favorite neighborhood bar.

So instead of a home cooked dinner of chicken parm, I had a (delicious) grilled cheese with fried pickles. And a mug of Octoberfest, because I was in that sort of mood. (Pre-fight rules be damned!)

A buddy was in the area, so we met up and one mug turned into two. It's been three hours and my roommate is still not answering or replying. And that's when the spelling bee started.

Yes, a spelling bee. Like on TV with the little, uber-geeky kids. Just at a bar. And it was awesome, albeit of no help getting me in my apartment and my bed.

10:30 p.m. rolls around and I'm still - for all intents and purposes - homeless. I line up a couch to sleep on, a ride to work in the a.m. and a washing machine to wash my clothes since I'll be wearing them two days in a row. I trek out into the night to hop on the train...

...when my roommate calls.

30 minutes later, I'm in my apartment, spare key in hand. I won't even tell you where my key was, but, well, it was in the most obvious place outside of staying on my key chain.

So in short: while I'm in good shape and have had good results the past two weeks in the ring, I am far from being peaked and truly "ring ready." I've worked a long week in the office (hell, I'm still at my desk now, just 3 hours before my bout), didn't get much sleep last night and have done nothing other than eat well today and hydrate to prepare for my bout.

But ya know what?

I'm still savvy, hungry and have more than enough to work with.

And I'mma whup this dude something fierce tonight.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

...And back on the upswing

Despite battling a nasty head cold that sent me to the doctor for the first time in years, this past week I've been able to fully regain, well, whatever it is I lost during my inactivity last month. I can't put my finger on whatever it was (Strength? Cardio? A little swagger?) but it's probably best labeled as ring rust and I don't think it will be around much longer.

In a way, this week has been a classic example of the proverbial leap "out of the frying pan and into the fire" - namely, I've already had an aggressive sparring session with one of the other, better competitive boxers from my gym. The quasi-bout was scored for the gym's ongoing team training competition, of which I'm sort of a hired gun since I really only come in to spar on behalf of the red team on Saturdays and do my own the thing the rest of the week. Regardless of my role, the competition is being filmed for a local network as a reality TV show, so it's exciting to have some intense sparring that's a little more high-stakes than just an ordinary workout or inter-gym competition.

Having said that, this is my 2nd "televised" bout and my 2nd victory. The dude I moved around with usually has an uber-high work rate and is constantly coming forward. Where that can give anyone trouble on the right (wrong?) days, I made sure to punch first, doubling and tripling my jab and throwing lots of lead right hands to keep him honest and at a good distance. With my range and power shots established, I was able to pick my spots to cut off the ring, angle in and flurry effectively.

So while I didn't feel as energized and strong as I did just a few weeks ago, I was able to outbox, outwork and out-land my opponent all 3 rounds. It was a borderline clinic...and I have the broadcast to prove it. (No big deal...)

At the end of my workout, my trainer said he wants me to fight in a big exhibition this Friday to stay active. Not only am I chomping at the bit to box, box and box, but I've found that having a hard date to work towards helps me push my limits within individual workouts leading up to it. It's not that I need the help getting to the gym or working hard, so much as this provides the sense of desperation and purpose that helps me keep the pedal to the floor even when fatigue starts setting in. After all, a bout's not an exam - you can't cram for it. A scheduled, confirmed date keeps me honest.

I had a few random notes that I wanted to touch on, but this post is getting long and I know y'all have other boxing news to catch up on. (Anyone else agree that we're in the beginning weeks of a pretty good stretch of boxing match-ups?) Definitely stay tuned though - with the upswing of action in the gym, I'm also planning on injecting some life into this blog and changing...stuff. No set plans yet, but this place needs a face-lift.

On the up and up...