Although many people use boxing as an effective form of exercise as it offers both cardio and strength and conditioning benefits, for others, the goal is to fight. Before preparing for your first fight is even on the cards, you’ll need to get the green light from your coach. Committing to your first fight is a big decision, and it’s vital to ensure you are ready.
For most boxers, it takes between 4-12 months before signing up for their first bout. So take your time. There’s no rush! Remember, the longer you train and gain more experience, the more likely you are to have a successful outing.
However, once committed, you then have a deadline to get in shape and the right mindset to fight. In this post, we’ll cover a range of aspects to consider and focus on while preparing for your first fight.
Training for your first boxing match
Before we start this section, here’s one simple yet critical piece of advice… Don’t overtrain!
Overtraining in the build-up to your first or any boxing match is self-destruction at its finest. While you may think as much training as possible is the best way of preparing for your first fight, it’ll hinder you more than help you. And this is something every athlete has or will experience at some point. By no means do we mean you should take it easy in training, but if you’re already fatigued when the first bell rings, and your opponent is fresh as a daisy — it’s not difficult to guess who will have the advantage.
Consistent training is essential, but it’s a good idea to reduce training sessions to about an hour two weeks before your first fight. That said, it’s essential to consistently work on your cardio, agility, strength, and conditioning to ensure you’re sharp and strong on fight day. It’s important to be well prepared in all of these areas, as boxing is very much about endurance, and it’s often the fitter boxer out of the two that has an advantage. With this in mind, if your boxing match is three rounds, train for six.
That sounds like us telling you to overtrain, doesn’t it? Please don’t. You just need to find the right balance that works for you.
Train smart: preparing for your first fight
Next, train smart. What we mean by this is that you also need to implement some tactics and research into your training. Find out about your opponent. Are there videos of them fighting online or on social media? How tall are they? Do they have any specific techniques they favour or aspects you can exploit?
While coaches often take the lead in this regard, you need to research opponents yourself. Learning about them first-hand is a more effective way of retaining the information and being able to use it during a fight. Research and tactics play a vital role in creating a game plan for your defence and attacks. You’re not just learning about an opponent. You’re learning how to beat them.
Mentally prepare for combat
The mental side of boxing and combat sports, in general, can be challenging. You can prepare as much as you want and be immensely confident, but it doesn’t mean that your upcoming fight won’t be on your mind or stress you out.
It’s perfectly normal to worry about your fight, but getting into a confident mindset in the weeks, days and immediate build-up to your battle is essential. For more information on this particular aspect of preparing for your first fight, check out our ‘Mind Over Muscle‘ blog post, which focuses on the mental side of boxing.
A common piece of advice for your mental is ‘get some rest,’ which is solid advice, provided that you actually get some rest. By this, we mean you should get plenty of sleep and not scroll through Netflix until 1am every night. Your body needs to heal and repair itself, and the best time for your body to do this is when you’re sleeping.
So, let’s talk about the night before your fight. It can be tough to sleep as you’ll naturally be anxious no matter how confident you are that you’ll win. To help, try the following to relax and get the rest you need:
- Get comfortable early in the evening, somewhere with minimal distractions where you can just rest and relax.
- Check all your gear. Make sure it’s in working order and ready for the next day. There’s nothing worse than last-minute panic because of a gear mishap.
- Turn the TV or some music on, shadowbox for a bit and practice some techniques. Sharpen your tools!
- You know yourself. What’s the most effective way for you to clear your head? For some, a walk is perfect, whereas others meditate or take a long bath with no distractions.
- Once you’ve spent the evening relaxing, it’s time to get to bed. Before you sleep, take some time to stretch everything out, 30 minutes should be sufficient.
- Now hit the hay. No, not at 1am after hours of scrolling. But at a time that ensures you get at least 7-8 hours of sleep.
Now let’s talk about mentally preparing for your first fight, right before the bout. Every boxing great had their own ways of mentally preparing, as everyone is unique. So only you will know what gets you in the zone. Whether it’s a song, video clip, conversation with your coach or anything else — focus on that for a few moments and ignore everything else around you. Now you’re in the zone and have the right mindset to fight, you’re good to go.
Cutting weight (safely)
You know how this works. Fights are categorised by weight classes, and fighters must be the right weight if they want to enter the ring. Therefore, it’s crucial to keep an eye on your weight leading up to the fight and ensure you are on weight. Don’t get caught by surprise. Your coach will help you here and have the experience and knowledge to get you at the right weight, but you need to work hard too. Making sure your boxing diet is healthy and consistent is one of the most critical aspects of preparing for your first fight. However, you must always hit your target weight safely and without risk to your health. Failing to do so puts you at a massive disadvantage during a fight.
Listen to your coach, take the appropriate steps to lose the weight, not drastic steps out of desperation. This is where your consistency and hard work come into play. Losing weight in a rush will cause significant dehydration and reduce your muscle density. It can even have long-term and severe detrimental effects. In fact, drastic weight cuts can shorten your life and drastically impact your health. Examples include fighters withdrawing from fights due to serious health concerns like liver issues.
You have plenty to think about and prepare on the day of your fight, so we’ll keep this section as simple as possible.
Check, double-check, then triple-check your boxing gear:
- Mouthguard: never leave this behind. Your teeth will thank you.
- Clothing: clothing like a jumper, warm socks, t-shirts, and joggers will help you avoid cooling down after your warm-up.
- Boxing gear: Boxing gloves, headgear, foul/groin protector, hand wraps, gauze, knuckle padding and sports tape.
- Extras: bucket, Vaseline, First Aid kit, rag or towels.
- Fruit (for after your weigh-in)
Drinking water before your fight is essential, but don’t go overboard. In the hours building up to your fight, it’s sensible to drink as much as you want, as you’ll need to keep urinating and flushing your body out. However, you should only be sipping water around an hour before the fight. Having a stomach full of water can make you tired and nauseous (nerves don’t help), and then you have to consider that you’ll be hit in the stomach a few times. The same can be said for food. You don’t want a stomach full, so no food for the two hours leading up to your fight.
Get someone to organise your family and friends
Support from friends and family is a huge source of motivation and helps you mentally during a fight, especially for boxers preparing for their first fight. However, it’s a good idea to have plenty of space before the fight and not be distracted by others. While it’s great to have support, socialising won’t help you get into the zone. This is why it’s helpful to make sure someone else is organising other people and making sure they get to the venue. These types of tasks can be added stress, stress that you really don’t need.
Are you looking for more advice for preparing for your first fight, or any other topic related to boxing? Check out our blog for more helpful guides. Need some new boxing gear? Check out our online store for all your boxing gear needs.