IN the amateurs, I neglected core work a lot, I had youth on my side and I didn’t need it as much, but now I’m maturing as a man and in the pro game you need any advantage you can get. I remember Jimmy showed me the Superman press-up, where you lock out your arms and I thought it’d be impossible for me, but after three-four weeks of work, I can do it better than Superman himself! I’ve been sparring a few cruiser weights including Simon Barclay and I feel just as strong if not stronger than them.
I put that down to nutrition, core work and hard training. At the end of a session we always do a bit of ‘middle’, just for five, 10, 15 minutes, depending on to how I feel; Jimmy guides me and I’ll do less if it’s been a hard day. On an easier day, he might give me extra core work. We do the crucifixion press-up, where you come up halfway and hold the position with your arms out and head back, a few core moves where Jimmy holds my legs, we do stand-ups from the sit-up position, sometimes with a weight in my hand that I lift in the air when standing up.
We also do a circuit, where we do three minutes on the racing bikes – 20 seconds ticking over then going hard for 20 seconds, alternating – followed by 10 bench jumps, 10 squat thrusts and 10 press-ups; we rest then do the same circuit but with nine of each exercise, and so on.
KEEP ON RUNNING
I run nearly every night, I just have Sundays off. I do my own running, I have done all my career. Sometimes I’ll have a little plod, sometimes I’ll pick it up, with sprints, for example. I get my iPod on and my head down. I rarely do less than six-and-a-half miles except on Saturdays. I do my runs near me in Hatfield but my hill runs on a Saturday are over Dunstable Downs. A non-boxing mate showed me that route and it’s a hard run. Which type of run I do depends on how I feel, if I feel I’ve had a hard week, what’s the point in pushing myself too far; it’s not going to get you any fitter. If I’ve had a hard day I might do a six-and-a-half-mile steady plod, or a mile at 70-80 per cent, then a mile at 60 per cent and so on. I did a six-miler recently because I was sparring the next day, but then when I feel fresh I might do seven miles with four of them at a hard pace.
In sparring, part of me thinks, ‘Let’s have it all-out’, but I don’t want to use it now, I should just sharpen my tools and get ready for the fight. I pay my sparring partners, so if they travel 150 miles and we only do three rounds, they can’t complain because I’m paying them; it’s what we want, not what they want. If I ever catch a sparring partner to the body or the chin and they’re hurt, I always step off, but without embarrassing them. But if they want a war, I’ll bash them up. If they want to learn, I’ll try to teach them what I can at the same time as they’re helping me.
Once I sparred a light-heavyweight and he was really going for it, trying to knock me out, so I put it on him, dropped him and it became a bit spiteful; that happens, but when they try to take your head off you’ve got to give it back. But Jimmy keeps us in line, he’s in complete charge of the sparring. You can’t beat sparring, it’s the key to everything. Putting the gloves and gear on, feeling your way in, you’re so focused; the only way to come close to the focus for a fight is sparring. I start sparring around five weeks out from a fight, because I’m fit. Then I spar every Monday, Wednesday and Friday until 10 days before the fight.
IN THE SHADOWS
I like to do a 36-minute shadow straight off. Some people think it’s easy but if you concentrate on your own, like you would in a fight, or in sparring, for 36 minutes, throwing proper punches, see the next day how you feel. You can watch your feet, and work out what you need to work on because there’s no one pushing you, so you can focus on yourself. Boxing is still the most important aspect of training. We work one day on, one day off, so we might do shadow today, pads tomorrow, bags today, sparring tomorrow. But we do some form of boxing every day.