Preparing for your first boxing fight can be a real rollercoaster of an experience. To ensure that you don’t get met by any unpleasant surprises, we have put together some tips that will help you be your best come fight night. It is important to remember that safety should always be at the forefront of your mind as well as enjoying the experience!
Without further ado, let’s delve into what you can expect and how you can prepare for optimal results!
1 Managing nerves
You’ve trained for months, sparred countless times, many of which have been for the same duration as the boxing fight. Yet, when it comes down to fight time, your gas tank is empty after the first round. Not a good place to be. The main reason behind this sudden drop in cardio is something that is referred to as an adrenaline ‘dump’. Simply put, the excitement and nerves of the situation taxes your body. While in sparring there was no pressure other than from your coach and/or training partners, now you’re in a ring with people observing who you’ve never met before and this factor can drain your cardio.
Now that you know that this may happen, adjust to ensure you limit the effect as much as possible. We suggest doing the following; if possible go to the venue where the fight will be taking place (get yourself accustomed to the environment), spar slightly harder opponents than the fighter you’ll be facing in your fight and spar for longer than you are scheduled to fight. if you are scheduled for 2 minute rounds, you should also get used to doing 3 minute rounds in training to make 2 minutes feel like a breeze!
A big reason people get so nervous in a fight is that there are people watching. There tends to be a lot of pressure around fighting in front of a crowd. if possible, get some people to watch you in the gym to get you used to this feeling.
Nothing can prepare you 100% for a fight, but these tips as well as your strength and conditioning program should put you in a better position.
2 Fear of distraction
You may be concerned that you will find the people in the audience distracting in the boxing fight. You won’t. When the bell rings and your opponent is coming at you, you’ll have nothing else on your mind than the threat in the ring with you. This should give you a certain level of reassurance that focus won’t be a problem come fight night.
Try your best to listen out for advice from your coach when fighting. They are seeing the bout from a different frame of perspective due to their experience. Also, they aren’t having punches being thrown at them. Therefore, they are likely to see openings and opportunities that you may have missed while in the midst of a firefight. There are times when fights are won or lost based on the connection a boxer has with their coach.
3 Rest is essential
Getting to sleep
The week leading up to the boxing fight is generally the worst on your nerves. The night before tends to be when nerves peak. Do your best to ensure you get a good night’s rest. It won’t be easy but every minute that you get will make a difference in the fight. Although you fight with your hands, boxing is really a sport of the mind. You give your body and mind fuel with rest and a good diet. This allows it to function better when it comes time to throw down in the ring.
Do your best to eliminate potential distractions and interferences during your fight camp, especially fight week. While this may not sound fun, it’s essential if you want to show up in the best shape possible. Leave the partying, drinking, late nights and other similar behaviour until after the fight. Trust us, the after party will be so much sweeter with the W in your pocket.
4 Train for a champion
Expect them to be better than they likely are
Knowing as much about your opponent as possible will allow you to be as ready as possible for the boxing fight. Seeing as this is your first fight, you’ll likely be matched up with someone of the same experience level (confirm this beforehand!). Due to the lack of experience on both sides, little information will be available on your opponent. But, if you can find out the essentials.. such as; height, hand dominance and the kind of shape they’re in that would be excellent intel for your preparation.
To ensure you’re ready for anything that will come your way, assume that your opponent is going to be a lot better than you. This will motivate you to push yourself harder in training and really get every drop of effort out of you(ensure you don’t overtrain though! click here to learn more about that). Many people think that the fight is actually the hardest part of a boxer’s life, in most cases this is incorrect, it is actually the training. By imagining you’ll be fighting an absolute monster, you’ll become the monster.
5 Lead the dance
Make a statement early
As previously mentioned, you’re likely going to be up against someone with just as much experience fighting as you. Therefore, both of you are likely to be nervous as hell! You can use this to your advantage to impose yourself on your opponent early on. You want to have them on the back foot and defensively boxing from the start. You’re likely to do more damage, score more points and also take less damage this way! JUST BE SURE NOT TO BE RECKLESS!
Nothing will ruin your night like charging in to attack your opponent and getting knocked out, so be sure to keep your defence solid. It’ll take a bit of practise but having a convincing poker face and an always advancing mindset will likely unsettle your opponent. Fundamentally, it will put you in the psychological driving seat in the boxing fight.
It is worth noting that if you are more of a counter-fighter naturally (you like to wait for your opponent to make a mistake then take advantage of it), perhaps this may not be your go-to option. If you are unsure of what kind of fighter you are, we encourage you use this strategy until you figure it out!
Although it can be helpful training with significantly higher level sparring partners, it is also suggested to train with people of your own level too. This is to allow for your confidence to built. If you’re always finding yourself getting smashed by higher levels which leads you to always taking a defensive stance, you may bring this role that you play in your gym to the fight. Being the nail in the gym sometimes isn’t a problem, in fact it will help you grow significantly quicker. However, if you are always the hammer or always the nail, that’s not so good, too much of anything is never good for you.
6 Hands up
Protect your brain
Due to the shorter amount and duration of rounds, you’re likely going to be headhunted by your opponent. What is headhunting? It pretty much is what it sounds like, when you or your opponent are specifically aiming shots at the head the majority of the time. No matter if its an amateur fight or a professional fight we always suggest ‘cooking’ your opponent’s body all over. However, if your opponent is coming at you headhunting (which is very likely), you do not want to be dropping your hands. Although this may sound like obvious advice and is often implemented at the beginning of a fight, it’s one of the most important aspects of a fighter’s gameplan that gets thrown out of the window first. In an attempt to save energy for firing shots, fighter’s will keep their hands low, opening themselves up for headshots. Don’t be that guy.
No matter whether you’re shadowboxing, hitting pads, the bag or sparring make sure you keep your hands up and return your hands to a defensive position after throwing punches. This is especially important when you get tired! If you can build in these habits in the gym, it’ll ensure that you will do them automatically or as close to in a fight.
Obvious, yet often forgotten.
It’s not uncommon for people to hold their breath without even noticing when in a stressful situation. This can result in devastating consequences for a fighter in a ring. So much of the success a fighter can achieve relies on their ability to breathe properly. It affects how well you can take a punch, how well you can deliver a punch, the chances of you keeping a clear head even when under fire and how well you can maintain your gas tank. When caught up in a firefight it can be very easy to forget to breathe properly, but this seemingly minor mistake could spell the downfall of your chances of getting the W in your first boxing fight.
We breathe by default, thankfully! However, by becoming more aware of our respiratory system while it is being used, we become able to use it to our advantage in a combat situation. Become aware of your breathing when you are practising in the gym, aware of when you tend to hold your breath and counteract this damaging habit by re-establishing the necessary breathing to give your body and mind the oxygen it needs to allow you to perform at your best.
8 Stick and move
Admire your performance after the fight
Your intention should be to put on an absolute clinic on your opponent. By doing so, it will likely open up opportunities for you to finish the fight. This means you’re less likely to get the judges involved. It is not uncommon for first-time fighters to get caught while admiring a shot or combination they’ve landed. Don’t leave yourself open for a counter just because you’re left in amazement about how well you connected or the fact you were able to get them ‘skating on ice’. Be methodical, pick your shots and admire your handy work only when they hit the deck.
Having a teammate film your fight can serve multiple purposes. Not only will it allow you to enjoy how masterfully you dispatched of your opponent, it will highlight key areas that you need to work on in terms of developing your game. Don’t feel shy about being recorded, it’ll be a priceless memento and allow you to evolve as a fighter at an expedited rate.
Everyone remembers their first fight, it will be a special experience for you. Do your best to prepare yourself for battle as best you can by following the points mentioned above and don’t forget to train your socks off! At the end of the day, win or lose, you’re a full-on warrior the moment you step into that ring. Good luck, train hard and one last thing.. breathe.