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. 

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