It takes a lot to step in the ring. Not just are you stepping in the ring, but you are going in against someone who trained like a savage to leave you cold on the canvas. Never in all the universe is there such a naked display of skill. Nowhere else will your limits be tested with so public an audience. So, don’t fight yourself as well. These are five things to avoid before stepping in the ring.
Weight Gain. Fighters go through rigorous training regimes to prepare for a fight. A lot of fight camp is losing excess body weight in order to meet a contractually agreed upon weight. This process involves hours of cardio and limiting caloric intake severely. What makes this exhausting process worse, is showing up to fight camp overweight. Yes, fight camp does involve weight loss. But, it also involves training fighting techniques. All of that usually takes place in an eight week period. Why then, shorten your time to actually train against an opponent trying to knock you out by over-eating when not fight. The more you weigh outside of your weight class, the longer you will spend losing the extra weight. That means less time to actually train. Not only will you be less prepared , but you also will be drained from the weight cut and possibly be more lethargic come fight night. Can’t perform. Can’t win.
Underestimating the Opposition. In the seventh fight of his professional career, Leon Spinks took the heavyweight title from Muhammad Ali. Ali didn’t train for the relatively inexperienced Spinks. It cost Ali his title. All it takes to lose to what you perceived as a lesser fighter is a punch to the right place. Being on the wrong end of an upset loss will derail a career. It damaged Shannon Briggs in losing to Darroll Wilson. Mike Tyson wasn’t invincible after Buster Douglas. If you lose to a “bum”, what does that make you. Take everyone seriously. They are in the ring to hurt you, not end up on your highlight reel.
Training a Technique Improperly. Fight camp should be about watching tape and finding your opponent’s weakness. You should not develop a weakness for your opponent to exploit. Joe Louis had a hitch in jab, where he would drop it at his waist after firing. Then, he would bring his arm back to defense. Max Schmeling was able to notice the delay and time right hands to score a knockout win. Deontay Wilder would retreat ,with his hands spread away from his face, when attacked. Tyson Fury capitalized on this by trapping Wilder in the corner and throwing power shots for the knockout win in their second fight. A legacy of mistakes is a recipe for failure.
Excessive Contact in Sparring. I know I spent this entire article preaching training over everything else. But, all good things have a limit. Going hard in sparring with live, full power, blows will lead to concussion and injury. Every fight is a bit less of you that can go on in your career. Why throw fights away in sparring. Sparring should be an environment conducive to learning, correcting errors, and building rounds of practice. Gym wars should not exist. You aren’t even getting paid for the brain damage.
FRIENDSHIP. I appreciate sportsmanship. I understand that both combatants in any contact sport sacrifice time with their families, eating freedom, and their health just to make it to the fight. It's ok to touch gloves. But when you look across the ring, that figure across from you is not your brother or sister in the fight. They are an opponent who has signed a contract to take your dreams away. It’s easy to allow respect and reciprocity temper aggression. But, it doesn’t matter how much respect there is in a fight. If you lose, you only get show money. You won’t get win money. Is everything you tossed aside to fight worth only half of your purse? Think of MMA fighter Uriah Hall. He had all of the potential in the world after spin kicking Adam Cella into a ten minute slumber. He was feared on the Ultimate Fighter. Then he lost to the, at the time unheralded, Kelvin Gastelum. After losing ,Hall said that Gastelum was a nice guy. Dana White said, “ Well, that nice guy took half of your paycheck.” I n between bells, go in to kill. Respect the fight and fighter after you collect a full check.