Why You Need To Have A Short Memory in the Ring…..
The man in the picture is one of the heavyweight greats, Joe Louis. Louis was as composed as they come, rarely ever getting into brawls, always cool inside the ring and always balanced, in position to throw his punches. One of the most efficient and best punchers boxing has ever seen.
Recently I was discussing boxing with my coach, a former champion and TV pundit, someone who had fought champions and been in the ring countless times as a pro and amateur, he had even sparred Naseem Hamed whilst they were both pros and building a career for themselves. He said something which made a lot of sense but can be very hard to adhere to when you are right there in the middle of the ring, adrenaline pumping and all. So what were those words of wisdom he imparted on me?
‘You need to have a short memory…’
Yes, when boxing, you need to have a short memory, no that doesn’t mean you forget everything your opponent is doing and just storm forward not taking in what is happening, you still need to read what your opponent is doing, pick up on any mistakes or pick up on any patterns, see if they are being predictable and use that to set up your next attack. By having a short memory, what is meant is that if you happen to get caught with a shot, you don’t let your emotions get the better of you and suddenly see red so much so that you lose sight of what you are doing and your game plan.
Very often, and I am guilty of this just as much as anyone else, when you get hit with a hard shot or someone throws a hard flurry at you, whether they get through or not, you think to yourself, ‘right, I’ll show you now,’ and you immediately go on the offensive and try to hit them with even more punches than they threw at you, or you try to hit them harder than they hit you. All this results in is a brawl, wild swinging, leaving yourself open to getting hit again and draining yourself of energy leaving you tired for the rest of the round.
What you need to keep in mind, is if you get hit with a shot, forget about it, move on, compose yourself, keep your shape and carry on. If you were setting your opponent up with a feint but got caught before you could set them up, put it to the back of your mind and continue setting up your shots or throwing the feints. A fight is a long time, it could be 12 rounds, 10 rounds, even if it is 3 rounds, sure it is shorter but for those of you who have been involved in 3 round fights, even that feels like a very long time, you have more than enough time to take a deep breath and compose yourself after being hit and then continue planning your next step. The only time this tends to change is in the final seconds of the last round, often fighters will engage but if you’re comfortable in the belief you are easily ahead, then there is no reason to enter into an exchange at that point either.
Now earlier I said this advice can be hard to follow when you are right there centre stage having someone throw punches at your head. So how do you get around this? Well my opinion is that the only way to learn is to put yourself in the situation, this means lots of sparring so that you eventually learn to keep calm when boxing and you learn getting hit isn’t the end of the world, it is a boxing match and not a street fight. Technical sparring such as jabs only is great for this, because you are restricted in sparring to using only one punch – which is also the most important punch, falling back onto the jab in tough times will get you out of a lot of tough times, it helps to distract your opponent and break their rhythm all whilst allowing you to hold your shape and compose yourself, ready to set up the next punch. Try it, perhaps have a few rounds under the eye of your coach with one boxer using both hands, and then the other using the jab only, watch how much tighter the boxer using the jab becomes and how much more composed he becomes, he has to fight behind his jab and looks more in control of himself.
Another element which could help with keeping your cool is having good fitness because you will be better able to control your breathing, slow deep breaths rarely make for an agitated fighter.
So try to put your emotions to one side, don’t get hot headed if someone lands a punch on you, it is after all boxing, you are going to get hit. Forget about it and carry on with your strategy.