Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Strong to the Finish

by Doug Ward on February 17, 2012

Some of history’s greatest fights were decided in the championship rounds, the final minutes of the fight, when one fighter began to fade or the other simply decided he wanted it more.  There’s an invaluable lesson to be learned from this aspect of boxing history.  The question is…which fighter you are going to be.  The answer is in how you train.

When you’re nearing the end of your workout, do you let it wind down, take your foot off the gas and coast to the end?  Or knowing that you’re almost done; do you step on the gas and empty your tank?  Too many fighters let fatigue take over the driver’s seat and simply finish the final few rounds with a whimper, instead of going out with a bang.

How was Rocky Marciano, after being knocked down in the first round and being outboxed for the majority of the fight, able to dump Jersey Joe Walcott in the thirteenth round of their heavyweight title fight encounter? Trailing on two of the three judges’ scorecards, Marciano pulled out a much-needed knockout with one of the ring’s most perfectly-timed, powerful right hands ever thrown. Anything less might not have allowed him to retain his unblemished record.

While trailing on all of the scorecards heading into the fourteenth round, Sugar Ray Leonard was able to turn the tide and take the fight to Thomas “Hitman” Hearns in their 1981 championship battle.  Swollen eye and all, Leonard was able to retain his championship in front of a live crowd of nearly 24,000 spectators and 300 million boxing fans throughout the world with a comeback kayo that would unify the welterweight crown and cement his legacy.

Chavez vs. Taylor, Louis vs. Conn…the list of examples goes on and on. By finding the necessary physical and mental reserves, these fighters may very well have changed the course of boxing history…or at least their place in it.

As you are reaching the end of your workout, this is the perfect time to ask the question “How bad do I want this and what am I willing to give to get it?”  No, there is no tomorrow. Yes, there is every reason to test your limits and exercise some heart.  If you’re saving your energy for a hot date, simply choosing to not push yourself or lacking the motivation by not having a tangible goal/upcoming fight in sight, none of these are valid reasons for not giving it your all anyway.  Every day you give 75 percent, you’re giving up 25 percent of improvement.  You’re passing up on a chance to get better.  You will not run out of willpower.  You will not deplete your heart.  You will not run your well of determination dry. These mental resources will replenish themselves as long as you tap into them.  Demand more of yourself and use them to get better.  When the end is near, it’s time to FINISH STRONG.

When you only have three or four more rounds to go in your workout, that’s the time you need to leave it all in the gym.

There’s a reason old cliché phrases are old and cliché, it’s because they’re true and the truth never dies.  So, here it is…When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going.  Push yourself harder in the last few rounds and you will get your greatest gains. You will increase your threshold of pain, you will increase your lung capacity and you will exceed your own expectations.  You win in every category when you give it your all.

Those final rounds may be the hardest, but they have separated many challengers from champions.   They separate those who want it from those who go get it.  They may be the hardest minutes you invest, but in some instances, they pay the biggest dividends.

There is no secret formula to pouring yourself into those final minutes of your workout.  Making yourself go that extra mile is up to you and your own desire to get the most out of every workout.  Dig deep to find your real potential.  Some tricks you can incorporate to tap into that hidden reservoir are:

Do what you like best at the end of your workout routine.  The enjoyment of capping off your session with what you like most helps offset your desire to coast down the final stretch.

Save mitts or interactive work for last, where a coach or sparring partner will help push you beyond what you might think your fatigue threshold is.  Having someone else set the pace will help get your mind off being tired and back on getting your job done.

Try something new at the end of your workout.  Break the routine and stimulate your senses with a new exercise, varied timing or a different goal.  Give your mind and body something new to achieve.

Don’t let yourself walk out of the gym thinking…knowing that you could have done more.  Regret is a horrible thing to have heading into the final rounds of a fight.  Know you gave it your all…up until the final minute, the final bell, that you saved nothing for later.  Later or next time won’t matter to your opponent.  He will only care about right now and seeing who wants it more.  He’ll want to know who put in the extra effort to get it.  The answer to that should be you.

Doug Ward is the President and Trainer for the Underground Boxing Company.

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