Sunday, July 03, 2005

Training for Improved Stamina

Picture credit: Scandinavian Boxing Rankings
Excel web sharing - spreadsheet collaboration over the Internet made easy with BadBlueThe man many observers believe is the finest pound-for-pound boxer in the world -- Floyd Mayweather, Junior -- was on HBO last night. The broadcast was a repeat of last Saturday's pay-per-view event from Atlantic City, in which Mayweather opposed veteran Arturo Gatti.

I hesitate to call it a fight, though. A demolition, perhaps. Utter domination, certainly. The still-undefeated Mayweather exercised a hand- and foot-speed advantage seldom seen at this level of competition. After three rounds, Mayweather looked like he was hardly breaking a sweat, while Gatti was sucking down water, struggling to stay in the bout. After six rounds, Gatti's corner threw in the towel.

The punch-stat totals were as one-sided as you can imagine. Mayweather connected on 57% of his punches, compared to a measly 17% for Gatti: 168 to 41. The numbers were even more skewed for power shots: 115 to 10. It is hard to imagine a more thorough annihilation of a proven, experienced boxer by a younger man.

Why was Mayweather so fast and in such obviously superior condition?

Announcer Don Merchant let slip an interesting anecdote. During training, Mayweather eschewed the traditional three-minute rounds followed by one minute breaks. He frequently sparred in ten-minute rounds, with a new, fresh sparring partner for each.

In some cases, Mayweather took ten or fifteen seconds off between rounds, rather than sixty seconds. Combination work came in ten-minute segments and each continuous heavy-bag training session is fifteen minutes long, with no breaks.

The formula is really quite simple. Training sessions that require such enormous energy expenditures make the actual bout itself a walk in the park.

The lessons of Roy Jones, Junior

Another interesting training tidbit relates to former pound-for-pound great, Roy Jones, Jr. Jones was trained by his father, who reportedly pushed his son into greatness through a training regimen that would have felled most human beings. Among his unique training approaches: one-handed sparring.

Supposedly, a series of sparring partners would be brought in to face Roy, Jr. One at a time, they would box a round with the son, who was permitted to use only one hand during each round. The hand he was permitted to use varied from right to left based upon round: even round numbers got the left, odd rounds got the right. Not only that, but the sparring partners were, say, sixteen years-old while Roy, Jr. was twelve or thirteen. Talk about a rough indoctrination.

Hard Training

While great genetics is a primary determinant in the development of world-class athletes, another lesson is equally clear. The best athletes have generally trained harder, smarter and faster than their opposition. Michael Jordan's brutal pickup games and Mia Hamm's outrageous regimen helped build the foundation for improved confidence and mental intensity. And, if you want to be a world-class athlete, it probably doesn't hurt to have a father willing to push you to the limit.

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