Sparring The Champions


On November the 26th Eddie Hearn is hosting Matchroom Promotions professional boxing show at the SSE Arena in Wembley, London where there will be some exciting fights on! As the fighters prepared for this camp I personally had the pleasure of training along with and sparring some of the guys boxing Saturday night and I can say it has been one of the most enjoyable and challenging experience of my boxing life. Professional and amateur boxing are worlds apart and I had to learn quickly if I were to keep up with some for best fighters in the UK and the world!

 

Sprints:

By far the most challenging aspect of the training partly because it’s the least enjoyable has to have been the sprints! On a Tuesday and Thursday morning the team meets at 7:00 am sharp at Matchroom gym in Essex to go for sprints upwards stairs in the local park. That day there were 10 sprints scheduled and I managed 8 before my knee started causing me problems and I had to pull out (it wasn’t the lactic acid, I promise! LOL) – It just showed that to box for up to 12 rounds you really need to have a lot of gas in the tank.

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With former English champion Ohara Davies after 4 x 400 meter sprints on the track. Ohara fights Andrea Scarpa on the 26th November for the WBC Silver World Title.

 

Sparring:

The most fun and educational part of training camp has to have been the sparring! I was fortunate enough to mix it up with some of the best, including British champion Martin J Ward, Former English champion Ohara Davies, and good prospects Connor Benn, who is the son of legend Nigel ‘The Dark Destroyer’ Benn. Sparring was 3 x per week on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the first lesson I needed to learn was how to pace myself for 4 rounds of boxing. Fresh out of the amateur style I still had no idea how an extra round of boxing or two could really take the wind out of a fighter and the first sparring session I went in all guns blazing against Ohara Davies. With time and after sparring the others I started learning how to take a breather when I needed one and how to recover while defending and moving. I quickly noticed that when I attached the guys would defend and take their time to avoid and block my punches and once they noticed I was tired they would press the attack and throw accurate and hurtful punches back, so I had to learn to defend and box more on the ‘back foot’ (while moving back) too.

 

Dieting Bet:

Without a shadow of a doubt the most difficult part of the entire training camp after 2 years out was the dieting. I weighed 72.00 kg when I started boxing again and initially I found it rather challenging to improve my cardio with all the muscle I had to put on. The first step to reducing my weight was to cut down on my resistance training and reduce my food consumption and this is when I recalled one of the reasons why boxing was so tough for me. From the age of the 16 – 26 I boxed at around 60.00 kg which is the lightweight limit but as I got older it became harder and harder to maintain the weight and after going up to 72.00 kg the prospect of making lightweight limit again seemed painful at best. Not to be deterred by a challenge I decided to go for it while all along Ohara Davies was very skeptical that I could make weight so we decided to make a £50 bet.

My diet started looking a lot healthier with time and consisted of:

  • Breakfast-  Green tea and porridge with raspberries and blueberries (sometimes chocolate pieces).
  • Lunch – 1 x chicken breast, white rice and salad or humus, olives and Turkish salad.
  • Dinner – 2 boiled eggs with green tea and a slice of brown toast.
  • Snacks – Fresh fruits i.e. bananas, grapes and strawberries, nutrition bars, protein cookies.
  • Hydration – 2 -3 liters of water, tea, coffee or low sugar juice.

Needless to say I did everything in my power to sweat, sweat and the sweat some more, dropping gradually to 67.00 kg and even 64.60 kg at one point but that was all, I was absolutely spent. Could I have dropped any lower? yes. Did I really want to? No. Was it really necessary? It depends on your perspective. So I opted to dispose of my diet one weekend when I binged on a home cooked German meal called schnitzel and mash potatoes, with 2 glasses of wine and a tub of ice cream! So you can guess that I lost the bet.

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Lessons Learn:

  • When managing a sports injury it is best to go slowly and train at 65% maximum intensity to begin, while also paying visits to a physio.
  • Early night sleep is a must if you are to awaken at 05:00 am to go for sprints with professional fighters, I was opting to be in bed by 10:00 or earlier if possible.
  • Sparring with amateurs and sparring with professionals are two very different experiences. Sparring with professional boxers requires a controlled approach and a reduced pacing as it is at least 4-10 rounds sparring as compared to amateurs which is 3 rounds.
  • Boxing is better when you truly love and it and enjoy the challenge of getting fit, the thrill of the fight and have enough self-belief to step in with whoever is in front of you as an opponent.

Tomorrow night my friend Ohara Davies takes on Andre Scarpa for the WBC World Silver Title, don’t miss out out Sky Sports 2!