By: Henry Deleon
Boxing these past few weeks has definitely been something to talk about. Whether it’s great matchups like Teofimo Lopez vs Vasily Lomachencko, or a devastating knockout like the one Leo Santa Cruz suffered at the hands of Gervonta Davis, or maybe it’s the “legendary” matchup between two all-time greats, Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. that gets people chatting. One thing that has definitely kept boxing buzzing these last few months has been the crossover of YouTube stars Logan and Jake Paul.
Jake Paul’s recent victory over former NBA star Nate Robinson has been the talk of the town. Across social media platforms you see things like “you don’t play boxing”, “Nate Robinson had no business Boxing”, “Boxing isn’t for everyone.” Which may be true, but in this scenario only to a certain extent. Nate losing to Paul wasn’t because Jake is an example of what “Boxing” is supposed to be. People need to understand that there is a process one goes through to find out if whether or not they’re cut out for this sport. A process that not only challenges you physically but mentally too; a process that played a major factor in Nate Robinson losing. It wasn’t Jake’s representation of the sport that led him to victory. For many of you who have never fought (I’m not talking street fighting) or stepped foot in a ring, I would like to share a little insight on an aspect that many first-timers go through; to help you understand Boxing a little bit better.
In boxing, there is a psychological phase that people just starting out have to go through. There’s a bunch of emotions, nerves, fears and doubts that tend to kick in that one has to learn to control and overcome.
You spend months training for your first fight, practicing form, combos, footwork, defense drills. All these things you’re practicing over and over again, day in and day out. Trying to engrave them into your mind so that It almost becomes second nature for your body to react and respond in a certain way.
On the day of your fight, you have the pressure of not wanting to look bad in front of your friends, family and anyone else watching. You have the fear of getting hurt or possibly losing. Doubt starts to kick in because you don’t know exactly what to expect. You think you have an idea but then you’re not sure and you begin to question things.
Once in that squared circle and that bell rings you realize you’re head to head with someone who is intentionally trying to hurt you. A lot of that stuff you practiced back in training goes right out the window. The composure, the nice combos, BOOM gone. You’re no longer thinking clearly in that moment, and automatically you go into one of two survival modes, Fight or Flight. If you’re in flight mode, you’re moving around the ring trying to stay away from the other person, which is totally normal, it’s a natural human response to move away from something that’s causing you harm. If you’re in fight mode than you’re probably coming forward letting your hands go, not so much strategically but more to try to overwhelm your opponent so they don’t let off on you, usually resulting in you exerting more energy then you should because you’re inexperienced and unfamiliar on how to pace yourself in that kind of a situation. You could have done all your road work and felt like you were in the best shape of your life going into the fight, but after that first round because of those nerves, you’re exhausted. You go back to your corner, your hearts beating fast, you’re tired. You’re taking big breaths but the air you’re breathing in feels ice cold. Your eyes are wide, you’re like a deer in headlights. You see your trainer talking to you but you’re not quite hearing them. Training for your first fight, is training to learn to survive.
Over time, the more you put yourself in that situation the more comfortable you become. The better you learn to pace yourself, the better you learn to think, the more you learn to see, the better you learn to apply what you’ve been practicing. You learn to remain relaxed under the pressure of someone trying to hurt you. Then when you start to win, you begin to build confidence that will eventually overshadow whatever doubts you once had.
Now back to my YouTube “friends.”
Jake Paul had this slight psychological advantage over Nate Robinson, probably why he managed to score a knockout. It wasn’t “skill” that resulted in the Paul knockout because let’s be real, for a pro fighter, his ability is without a doubt questionable. His victory was a complete fluke. It was simply the fact that Nate Robinson was unfamiliar with how to swim in these kinds of currents. Jake Paul has had a bit more experience in that sense, and due to a previous victory, a bit more confidence going in. Is he a skillful fighter? No, He was just fortunate enough to go in there with someone who didn’t quite know what they were getting themselves into.
It’s a different ball game when you are in the ring with someone who is no longer training to survive, but training to hurt you. Someone who has perfected how to see and think clearly under the pressure that boxing brings. Someone who isn’t going to be easily phased because you landed one or two good shots or scared that they might get tired. Someone who has been doing this all their lives and that survival mode doesn’t exist in them anymore. Someone who’s mentality is all about breaking the other person down physically and mentally, inflicting pain and seeing the other person hurt.
Logan Paul vs. Floyd Mayweather, scheduled for February 20th, 2021, will be a perfect example of that. You basically have a“wannabe” fighter going toe to toe with a seasoned and experienced professional fighter. A one-sided fight, an amateur vs. a pro, hence why they made it an “exhibition”. Do not be surprised once Mayweather starts countering Logan, that Logan will freeze up and become hesitant, no longer letting his hands go. Don’t be surprised if Floyd stops him, though it’s an exhibition so I doubt they’ll allow it to get to that extreme.
There are levels to this sport and there are levels for a reason. Many people question if this is a fight that Floyd Mayweather should be taking part in? Some might make the argument and say Floyd has done more than enough for the sport to be able to pick and choose who he fights, even if it is for a quick payday. Others argue if he’s taking part in an exhibition bout, then why not against some other former fighter? Floyd has always emphasized the fact that “if it makes money then it makes sense.” So there really is no surprise in why he would partake in this. For those who think the Paul brothers shouldn’t even be at this level of the sport, at least it may be rewarding to see Floyd give Logan a proper beat down, that shows these YouTube fighters what it’s like being in the ring with a legitimate fighter, and not another YouTube or former NBA star, no?
The Paul brothers have a large following that converts into viewers and potential ticket buyers. Networks and promotional companies are tickled by this and therefore will continue presenting them with these kinds of platforms to perform on. Some may say it’s a spit in the face to the genuine participants of the sport who have sacrificed their entire lives in the hope of that big payday that’s going to one day change their lives. Some world champions don’t even see the payouts the Paul brothers have generated. But the question remains, is this good for boxing? Is this what boxing should represent? Well, it really comes down to all of you reading this article, the fans. You guys are what make this sport. Are these cross overs something you all wish to continue watching?