Saturday, November 30, 2013

Final Post: my first (and last) match

Today was the day. I couldn't be any more disadvantaged than I was - the last month I've had exactly 4 boxing workouts, gotten sick, traveled across the world on a bunch of trips, and then hurt my shoulder only 8 days before my match to the point I couldn't even lift it up over my head until about 4 days before my match.

I went into today's match just wanting to put on a good show, and I believe I accomplished my goal.

I was in the senior division, so my opponent was a heavyweight roughly my height and weight but 10 years my senior. Senior division folks are only allowed to go 2 rounds instead of 3, this hurt me. He was much more skilled than I was even though I was faster and younger.

First round: I did what I was planning on doing. I used my jab, and stepped back and boxed defensively, which is fairly boring. I hadn't really gotten hit by him much so I didn't know the power he had, but he was a very skilled boxer who had been boxing for 16 years or so even though I think this was his first match. I jabbed, double jabbed, and used footwork to step in and out. I was faster than he was, though it seemed he had better stamina. He got me a few times in the body, but as always I got him in the head. My trainer said I won the round, and said to do exactly the same thing in the 2nd round.

Second round: For some reason unknown to me, I decided to get away from my strategy. He was dropping his right arm, so I started going in for right uppercuts but he had a really good left hook and overhand left. He got my head at least 3 times quite hard, I don't think I ever hit him that hard, and I was shaken back a few times. My mouth was bleeding, and there was blood on my shirt. I still jabbed enough that I thought it was close. Right before the decision, my trainer said it could go either way, he said it was really close.

Well, he won the decision. I believe my staying away from my defensive strategy lost me the fight. A number of other boxers came up to me to tell me that it could have gone either way, and that I shouldn't feel down, a few even said I probably should have won based on how many hits I got in on him. He was also really skilled in getting points. Sometimes he would just take his glove and put it on my shoulder, and then kind of push my head. I know that's a point, so I should have been aware of it but I was focused too much on my offense rather than thinking defensively as well. [I just saw the video of the fight, and it was pretty close. To my eye I think I still won the fight, I felt like I had more hits than he did but then again maybe he touched me more than I touched him. I'm not quite sure. Either way, it was pretty close after viewing the video. I give him all the credit for doing what he had to do to win the fight. He knew all the strategies to win in competition.]

I do not regret that I only had 4 practices in the last month, or that I got sick, or even that I had this shoulder injury. My only regret was abandoning my strategy in round 2. I felt like Michael Moore who lost to George Foreman. All Moore had to do was dance around, jab, and not get hit. If I did that I would have won for sure, but I saw the opening and thought I could bang inside with him - I was younger and faster, but his punches were much stronger. He was more skilled than I was, but I know I would have won if I had just stuck to my defensive strategy of jabbing and backstopping, and the like. I think if I had a round 3, it would have been a different story. Mostly, I regret not using more footwork to backstep and to slip back and to the side more. I just went straight into jab and then brawler mode which isn't my style at all. I'm a defensive style fighter who got away from his game.

A famous martial artist once said, "There is no losing. There is winning and there is learning." If this is true, then I learned a lot. I learned mainly that in the heat of battle, to think through just a tad bit more slowly and to continue to do what is working especially since I was winning (I believe at least). I congratulated my opponent who was a nice guy, I think he knew it could have gone either way and so said to me "let's keep on practicing so we get better" with a smile on his face. I give him 100% credit, he did what he had to do and won the fight against a younger and slightly bigger opponent. Overall, I went from knowing very little about boxing to actually being a boxer and having strangers who see me throw punches ask me if I box. I was surprised at how calm I was. I told my trainer that I used to wrestle, and so I'm used to not being jittery in these situations. He said, "that's totally different. You're not getting punched in the face and having to fight while bloodied." Turns out he was right. The end of the first round I got hit pretty hard in the mouth, and my lip/back teeth were bleeding so I was tasting blood in my mouth the entire 2nd round. It definitely was different from wrestling that's for sure.

Boxing in the last 4 months has taught me so much. Although I am tempted to try one more time, I've decide that I am not going to be in another boxing match. I think the head injury potential is too dangerous especially at my age. I am planning on taking up another sport. I'm still planning on going to the gym (I paid a year in advance) at least once or twice a week, but try to avoid sparring and just hit the mitts and the bags. So I'll be cross training in one sense. So I'm giving up boxing and will basically do boxercise, another form of cardio. I enjoyed this sport so much in so many ways, but in other ways the dangers of my head ringing - on two separate occasions I've had my head ringing from being hit pretty hard - one time my head rang for nearly 4 days from sparring with a young heavyweight. I guess I could spar lightly, but rather than do that I think I'm going to focus my energies on another sport. Even now, my head is still ringing slightly from that hard right from my opponent. I know I got him with a really hard uppercut/hook to the side of his head, and I'm sure he's feeling it as well. There's a beauty and a brutality to boxing, it's what drew me to it but it's the same reason I'm not going to be in a match anymore.

If you are a middle aged amateur beginner boxer like me, I hope this blog was helpful to you. I can't say getting in the ring was a fear of mine, but I am glad I conquered this hurdle. It would have been nice to win, but that was never the point. I'm in better shape than I have been in 20 years, I learned (and will still learn) a useful skill, and was able to get in the ring. I'd like to hit a boxing workout once per week or once every other week since I still enjoy it, but it's not as interesting without the sparring. Thank you for following along. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Shoulder Injury

Last Friday during my last sparring session, I pulled a shoulder muscle slightly. Right now it has been about 5 days and I haven't done much. I should have done some road work but I've been busy and haven't done much. Now, I only have two days left and so I have to do the best I can do with the time that I have. 

I can throw a jab and an uppercut with my left, but the left hook still gives me pain in my shoulder. Even when I sleep I feel the pain in my left shoulder. I'm trying to rest as much as I can. 

I'm still planning on fighting of course, but my attitude towards this match has changed. I'm going more to prove myself. After training really hard for 3 months, the last 3 weeks I've done almost nothing in terms of training so I know I'm not at 100%. With my shoulder injury, I'm even less than that. So I want to make sure I heal as much as I can. My cardio is nowhere where it should be, so I have to be careful I don't tire out too quickly and save my energy. I remember in sparring matches where by the 2nd round sometimes, I'd be so tired my smaller opponent would rattle me with hits. 

Either way, having an injury before my fight is one of the worst feelings. I can only hope it heals enough by Saturday afternoon. I'm in the middle of roughly 40 fights, so I'll have time to rest and calm myself down. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Workout #45

I had a really light workout today. I did mostly shadow boxing, and worked on my abs. The gym was kind of empty. Mostly, I'm still nursing my injury so I wasn't able to do much. I was there maybe 30 or 45 minutes.

I'm planning on two more workouts before my fight on Friday. I want to work mostly on footwork and think about strategy, and break a sweat and focus on breathing.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Workout #44

I was planning to go in for a light workout again, but turns out it was a sparring event to prepare people for the main tournament. I couldn't participate however since I had to leave early, so the head trainer asked me to spar one of the guys. He's a guy I've seen around, roughly my age and in really good shape from what I could tell. He goes hard every time he's in the gym, including on the heavy bag and the like.

After warming up a little bit, we went three rounds.

  • I was a bit taller so I just jabbed and jabbed. It had been a while since I actually sparred, more than a month, so I felt rusty just chasing him around the ring. 
  • He had a really good overhand right, where he would throw his right hand over my jab and ended up hitting me really hard in the head several times. 
  • Once I figured this out, I started double jabbing him, feinting, and then jabbing and stepping back so his shots mostly got me on my chest and shoulders from that point. Still, it was really hard. 
  • He had a decent body shot, but I was still able to tag him with my jab whenever he came in. I wish my uppercuts were fast enough to get him when he came in, but they're too slow so I have to end up using my jab. 
  • I'm not sure how the point system will work. My plan is to be be a bit slower in the 1st round and then come out aggressively with the jabs in rounds 2 and 3, in particular the jab-right-jab combo. 
  • I have to still work more on cardio and stepping back after my jab. 
All this happened on a Thursday, and then immediately after the match I felt this immediate pain in my shoulder. It's as if someone pulled one of my muscles really hard. It hurt so much I could barely raise my left arm over my head. I just stopped. It hurt enough that I wondered if I could recover in time for the tournament. It was even hard to sleep since the shoulder hurt so much. 

*Update 4 days later on the shoulder - it feels much better. I've been trying to do very little with it and that has helped. I've been shadowboxing by myself and my jab and straight rights are fine, my uppercuts are fine too, but I can't seem to throw a left hook without pain. It's the punch I use least anyways, but still. I'm going to go really light this week. My plan is to go into the gym about 3-4 times, ride my bike for cardio, do some shadow boxing at home, but mostly try and rest this shoulder. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Workout #42-43

During my nearly 3 week business trip I got to exercise mostly doing cardio, lifting some weights, and and the like. I did get a chance to visit a boxing gym for about 45 minutes where I did some shadow boxing and did about 3 rounds on the heavy bag and 6 rounds on the speed bag.

Today's workout was light. I hurt my shoulders sparring in this jiu jitsu class, and so I wasn't able to go too hard. It should be fine by tomorrow.

1. Jump rope 1
2. Shadow 3
3. Mitts 2

I needed a light workout back. I already found out my opponent for my match, though I know nothing about him. We'll see what happens, can't say I'm nervous since I feel ready. I see it as a sparring match with the potential to get one's nose broken.

My strategy will be to be much more defensive and rely on my jab and lean backs, and not throw too many combos in the beginning so as I don't tire myself out but it depends on what kind of guy he is. If he's aggressive, I have to either totally back off in defense mode or go on offense and go as hard as I can. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Workout #41

I've been a bit sick and getting ready for a long business trip. I'll be gone for the next three weeks. My plan is to do some kind of cardio, shadow box, and do other things to keep me in shape. It may actually be good for me to take a break. The only problem is when I get back I only have two weeks before my match. Such is the life of the white collar boxer, it's important but we're not professionals so we do what we can.

Rounds: 7

1. Jump rope 1
2. Shadow boxing 2
3. Speed bag 2
4. Heavy bag 1
5.  Double bag 1

Friday, October 25, 2013

Workout #40

Total rounds 12:

1. Jump rope - 1.5
2. Shadow - 2.5
3. Speed bag - 3.5

  • I finally feel like a boxer on the speed bag. Out of all the things I do, it's the one thing that makes me feel like I'm not a beginner. I'm not advanced, but I have the coordination now to feel I can go pretty hard and work on my accuracy and continue for several minutes at a pretty high speed on the speed bag. 
  • I think I'm much more accurate than a beginner b/c of my speed bag emphasis. I don't hit the heavy bag a whole lot, I'm not that concerned about power since I'm more a defensive fighter/want to win on points and accuracy. Also an accurate punch causes a lot more damage than a more powerful less than accurate shot. Anyways, I've decided to focus on accuracy.

4. Mitts - 2
5. Sparring - 3

I sparred a new guy today. About 5'8 and maybe my age. We didn't hit really, just kind of did really light sparring. I was taller so I was able to tag him fairly easily with my jab. He had no uppercut, so he started coming in a bit to hit me with bodyshots but once I got him with a jab or even once with an uppercut he was more hesitant. I think if I spar like this I won't get a whole lot of damage, but if I go any harder I will. It's still helpful sparring even at only 10% or even shadow sparring with no hitting at all. Today's session was good, really light tapping. It gives us a good basic foundation to learn.