Your first boxing match is a nerve-racking proposition. You go into the ring sure about only two things. The guy across the canvass from you is a trained boxer, and he's going to start punching you in just a few seconds. Even the greats like Waldcott, Tyson and Ali once had their first fight. Although they probably wouldn't admit it, it's a fair bet that they went into that fight as nervous as you feel right now.
Do Your Roadwork
World champion boxing coach Bill Packer advised his fighters that boxing is much harder than it seems. Many fighters are surprised by just how much cardio it takes to go the distance in a bout. Even if you don't love running, get your roadwork in. If you can't jog at a good pace for twice as long as your bout will last, you'll run out of gas well before the last bell rings.
Do Your Mental Work
Have a game plan going into the fight. If you had the chance to research your opponent, you should plan how to avoid his strengths and capitalize on his weaknesses. If you're going in blind, have a basic strategy for how you'll capitalize on your own strengths while protecting your weak points. Talk with your trainer about this ahead of time. Fight coach Dave Coffman recommends rehearsing your plan mentally in the days leading up to your fight.
This Might Smart
Getting punched hurts. Getting punched by an experienced boxer, even through head gear and gloves, hurts more than you think it will. Packer says there's no real way to prepare for that first punch, but you should know it's coming. Many fighters panic after taking their first real bell-ringer, abandoning their game plan or giving in to anger. Do your best to accept the pain as part of the experience and stick with your plan. Regular contact drills and sparring with someone of a comparable or more advanced skill level can help take some of the shock and mystery out of getting hit for the first time in the ring.
Make Weight Early
If you're cutting weight, regardless of the sport, it's best to make weight early. Wrestling coach Andy Brick advises getting down to your fighting weight at least a week ahead of time. You'll need to maintain that weight over the rest of the week, but maintaining weight allows you to take in more food and fluid than losing weight. That extra food and fluid means better performance in the fight.
Use the Bathroom First
You will be very nervous in the minutes before your first bout. One common symptom of nervousness is a false sense of needing to use the restroom. Once you've gone, you can ignore that sensation. However, if you go into the ring actually needing to pee, you're in for some of the longest minutes of your life.
- Bill Packer; boxing and kickboxing coach (dec); Bad Company; Albuquerque, NM
- Dave Coffman; martial arts instructor; Hillsboro, Oregon
- Andy Brick; wrestling coach; Hillsboro, OR