Thursday, October 4, 2007

Reflections on a night's sparring (and the morning after)

The gym last night was busier than I'd ever seen it, and not with the usual few boxers and the rest audience willing to mill and mingle and watch the action. No, everyone was there, it seemed, to fight.

Never a bad thing in a boxing gym, of course. There seemed to be a peculiar energy in the virtual air. Everybody was itching to do some punching, to the point that Karine felt obliged to expand the lower level and add a third ring to the facility.

So my dance card was pretty full, you might say. First a long go-round with Karine, whose skills I've blogged about before. I like going up against the higher weight classes in practice. It gives me a chance to sharpen my skills by going against an obviously superior fighter. God knows what they get out of going against me. A good laugh, I suppose.

Immediately after Karine and I were done, Allison Tobias needed a sparring partner. Karine was done for the time being, so I volunteered. Allison hasn't appeared at the tournament yet, though I think we'll be seeing her there soon. She styles some fast, elusive footwork that keeps an opponent on his toes.

After Allison, I turned around to find middleweight Derrick Cult standing in the other corner. Derrick is known in the gym as a bit of a cut-up, but last night he was all business. His style is a quirky one that works well for him: Short, sharp movements that keep him out of an opponent's range with the overall plan of catching him on a vulnerable side or, better yet, back. Derrick is consistently one of the leading contenders for the middleweight title, and, for my money, one of the best fighters we have at Averlast. I'm pleased to report that I more or less kept up with him, though I'm not so great a liar as to say I was "winning".

After Derrick, I needed a break. This was about when the place really started filling up. New fighters were asking for help and experienced ones were looking for space. jesica showed up about then. We agreed to spar, and when Karine opened up the third ring I bolted for it, thinking jes was behind me. Unfortunately she wasn't and we were separated, so no sparring for us. Sorry, jesica.

I did manage to claim dibs on the new ring, though. And not long afterward, who should come down to it than my nemesis from the last tournament, Buffy Soderstrom. I say "nemesis" not out of any personal animosity (she's actually quite friendly when she's not trying to punch me into orbit), but because we always seem to be so evenly matched, right down to our brawling styles. Like Allison, Buffy is fast, but also much more aggressive. We both sent each other flying out of the ring with no clear advantage to either of us overall. I think we make the best of rivals.

After that, it was time for me to go to bed. So I bid everyone good night and turned off the computer.

I had a few hours before going in to work the next day, so I logged in again and my buddy Kev Hastings was there. After a little small talk, we inevitably began sparring, and...

... I was a complete and absolute mess. Kev seemed to knock me out of the ring at will. I was literally walking into his punches. Try as I might, I just couldn't muster up the mojo that I had had the night before. My speed was gone, my punches hit air, and one time after Kev hit me I found myself on the roof of the gym. Kev had literally punched me through it.

I'm not saying that I should have been dominating Kev. He's far too good for that. But damn, I should have at least been giving him a fight. I really can't explain it.

Ah, well, chalk one up for humility. At least I wasn't lagging that time.

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