1. GET INTO ‘FIGHT MODE’
IN the evening training session, it’s usually sparring or what we call ‘Fight-mode pads’ for eight-10 rounds. I attack Nick with the pads so it’s closer to a fight than when we do placement pads in the 2pm session for accuracy.
Two of us do it and we swap to keep Nick working at a high rate. We try to replicate whichever opponent we’re looking at for his upcoming fight. We always try to make sure Nick’s jab – which is excellent – is accurate and hard so we try to replicate as close as we can the height of the opponent.
A few weeks back we were hoping to have a rematch with Max Bursak [who contentiously outpointed Nick in Ukraine last September] in a 10-rounder on this Monaco show, so we were doing 12 rounds of ‘Fightmode pads’. Then it looked like a 10-rounder with Sergey Khomitsky but now it’s only a six so we’re doing six, eight or 10 rounds of pads.
We only train for a maximum of an hour for each session we do of any kind, sometimes only 40 minutes; because he trains three times a day we need him to recover well so he can give his best in every session.
2. VARY YOUR S&C
The CrossFit sessions Nick does are mostly one-to-one and tailor-made for him, based on three-minute rounds.They always send me details of what they are doing but I can tweak it a bit, if, for example, his legs are a bit weak, we can focus on them. He likes the competitive element of CrossFit generally too, he’s always trying to beat the records they have on the walls in their gym. With me, he does a lot of explosive power work, barbell-based mainly.
We’ve also got a hammer strength ground base jammer here; it was originally designed for American football linebackers, and it starts from using your legs then using your whole body. Nick starts in a squat position, with his upper body on an angle slightly up and forward.
We attach weights, he sets himself and explodes forward to push the weight up, until his arms are fully extended and he’s standing on the tips of his toes. It gets your body to work as one unit. We also do a lot of stretching, deep tissue massage and roller work, because of the amount of training he does – he rarely takes time off after fights.
3. SPAR BIGGER PEOPLE
We’ve had to get heavier lads in for sparring this time as most middleweights are no longer strong enough to stay with Nick. Khomitsky looks very strong and we recently went travelling for sparring to judge where Nick is on strength, but he’s on another level now. We had a big, strong light-heavyweight come in and he only managed three rounds.
We are looking for people who can force him because if he feels a sparring partner isn’t that strong, he can step off the gas and we don’t want that. We often have to travel for good sparring. We sparred [English middleweight champion] Danny Butler who’s come on leaps and bounds. Nick is stronger but Danny is very active so we can use that. We’ve been over to Gary Lockett’s gym for Nick to work with Liam Williams wich was great for Nick. Nick has also sparred Matthew Macklin, Carl Froch, James DeGale and regularly spars Billy Joe Saunders.
4. SHARPEN THE MIND AND BODY
We use a nutritionist and a sports psychologist. We’ve been using the sportspsychologist, Stuart Morant, for six months and he’s very clever about how he puts things into Nick’s head. Here’s an extreme example: everybody is afraid of how hard Gennady Golovkin hits, but Stuart would put it into the context that you can avoid that hard hit, so you’re not being wary and avoiding something you need to do.
Nick also uses NutriStrength, who are based locally. Nick has a lot of tests done to make sure that everything they do works. It means we know what we need to do forthe weight to come off, but so he stays big. I look at the plan just to make sure it all agrees with him.
I’m not going to say I swear by it but if he likes it and it works for him I’ll go with it. If he thinks branch-chain amino acids are working for him, its great.
The mind has to be in the right place. If he enjoys it and he thinks it benefits him, it’s nothing but a plus.