I love the training in boxing. On the boat I’m able to train everyday. When I’m at home I train to a lesser extent. Yesterday I went to Lusby’s and I wasn’t expecting Lewis to be there let alone do any sparring. It was nice to try and put into practice some of the movements that I’ve tried to work on.
When I watch action-type movies you see a lot of people getting into fist fights and bar brawls, all different types of fights. It all looks easy. Someone comes towards you and bang, they strike or get struck. What’s incredibly tricky though is judging the distance when you’re able to physically hit someone. Not many people have been involved in physical confrontation and gauging that distance accurately isn’t something you can just pick up instantly.
It’s alright if the person isn’t expecting it. Sure you can just walk up and sucker punch someone no problem. They’re hardly in a position to offer resistance. But if someone’s waiting, ready for it… you’re talking inches. Just inches and centimetres. The difference between being able to land something and hitting plain, thin air… and then you have to be aware that you can also be hit back in return.
Pawing jabs and punches…
I love watching this Ukrainian boxer called Vasyl Lomachenko. I’ve mentioned him before but he’s a wonderful boxer to watch. His movement is really fantastic and there’s a lot of stuff you can learn when you watch him fight and train.
One thing I see him do in a ring is that he does a lot of these “pawing jabs” and punches. Just light taps. They’re not really going to hurt anyone but he uses them to occupy someone’s vision and whilst that’s going on, his feet are moving to a better position. It’s then he’ll stop pawing and strike you somewhere exposed with more force.
- This takes a lot of practice. My head movement, my guard… You’re trying to pay attention to what the guy opposite you is doing too.
- Against an orthodox boxer I’m always trying to secure an “outside” position with my foot. Against another southpaw, we’re even, so I have to box well, look for my openings and react well.
- Harder to put into practice than you think. Fitness has to be good of course but more experience in the ring is essential.
I’ve watched Lomachenko practice this on a heavy bag and there’s countless examples where he’s done it in a fight. His movement is amazing. The only way I can describe it that one minute he’s in front of you and in a flash he’ll skate around and just land a body shot or an uppercut.
- The very first thing I realized when I tried this is that you have to be close to the other guy. It’s more of an inside fighting move. When I tried it on Lewis, I was too far away and he didn’t have to do much to just react to it and as a result, I was too far away to land a body shot at times.
- I think you have to condition yourself to get used to being close to your opponent. I have to learn to be able to block well (because at such short distance, I’m going to be vulnerable too) and then be able to see the chance to skate around.
- I need to get close but that’s tricky in itself. You have to train your mind to accept you’re jabbing your way into harm’s reach.
There were a few times when I invited Lewis to come on at me and I would just block with my gloves in front of my face and and my elbows tucked in. I was trying to condition myself to get used to the feeling of someone pummelling me.
- When I tried this I forgot to open my gloves every so often so I could see where the shots were coming from. I need to work on that.
- Thinking about it now I should have thrown a few inside shots of my own but I didn’t, which I regret. Thinking about it again, this would have been a good moment to try that fast pivot I mentioned above.
- I escaped by just pivoting away and maybe in an ideal world I should have pivoted away and thrown a few shots quickly.
So that was it! Four rounds. It goes quickly. It gave me plenty to think about though and I’m further away than I thought as usual!
Here’s a great video of Lomachenko. You can see him doing the two things above and there’s an amazing track I love listening to just now. Tom Day – “Who we want to be”.