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Three weeks ago I started to write about my sparring sessions with my trainer, a pro fighter. You could read the first  entry here and the second entry here.

This was the first time I’ve sparred three weeks in a row in years and I already noticed something important–I was less anxious. I was aware I was about to get in the ring and see punches but it was more like I felt before a softball game. I wanted to perform well but I didn’t feel as  much concern for my safety. (I couldn’t bring myself to type the word “fear.” psychoanalysis welcome here.)

Actually there was more concern than softball.

Saturday night I watched two great fights for studying boxing technique. Pawel Wolak vs Delvin Rodriguez and Miguel Cotto vs. Antonio Margarito. Wolak and Margarito both stalk their opponents while Rodriguez and Cotto score their points while backing up, evading and counterpunching. Saturday night the two evaders won.

My trainer is smaller than me, is obviously a better fighter and he never ever takes a step back. It’s exhausting to fight an opponent like that. if I stand and trade with him he’ll out score me and it will hurt. My fight is to move side to side, jab to keep him off me and somehow try to make him pay for coming in on me. I try to be an evader. The difference is the guys who do it really well have unbelievable stamina. it is freaking exhausting and knowing the strategy is one thing while applying it with your conditioning is a world of something else.

I know this. I really do.

In the ring Sunday I did it until I got tired which was within the first 45 seconds of the first round. I tried to stay relaxed but it isn’t easy. The tension wastes energy and makes you less fluid. When a hard punch comes in on me I tend to back up instead of going to the side because that’s reflex. Hopefully sparring a lot will make going to the side more natural.

Like last week I’m trying really hard to not ever lose sight of my trainer but in the first round I ducked and found myself out of position. I wasn’t where I could be hit but that was just luck. My jab worked well and somewhere in the second round I landed one off the ropes that i felt in my knuckles. I say it felt hard to me because sometimes you can feel the bone of your knuckle hit the bone of face. My trainer acknowledged the shot verbally but showed no physical reaction to it.

There in lies the problem. In fighting a peer a good shot calms the action. A good shot against someone at the level makes them think, it makes them less aggressive and they often back off for a little while or they charge in out of anger and become even easier to hit. In a me vs the pro that’s not happening so I get no break.

We wound up doing 2 minutes of additional round for 3 2/3 rounds. It was tough catching my breath and in the last round I couldn’t execute the evading counterpunching that I wanted to.

Still, I felt more comfortable and though I didn’t feel it my trainer said this was the best I’ve looked.

Did I mention I pay him?