THE immediate hours before a fight, especially one as big as Cotto-Canelo, are often among the worst times in any fighter’s career. Literally every waking moment can see a boxer’s mind filled to the brim with what feels like millions of thoughts running through, sometimes several different thoughts at the very same time. You find yourself playing out every possible scenario for and against you on fight night. Most often, a boxer will mentally run through his training camp to see if he covered all the bases.
Did I feel good in sparring? Did I run enough? Did I rest enough? Did I eat the proper foods? Am I bringing the right strategy to the ring? What if that strategy doesn’t work? Do I have a solid backup plan?
You even can find yourself asking yourself the most bizarre questions that actually seem rational and important at the time.
Am I good enough? Do I belong in the ring with this guy? Am I as good as I was before? Does this guy have a style that will cause me great problems? How hard does he punch, better than other guys I’ve fought?
It’s all just another reason why preparation is so extremely important. You can train for weeks on end in isolation and do everything you need to do but if you slipped up even just one time and it comes back to you in the days right before the fight, for some guys, it could be enough to cast enough doubt to seriously affect the fight. It’s why the trainer and the fighter and everyone in their camp must work together to not only leave no stone unturned and leave no holes for doubts to creep through but if there is a slip up they must be physically and mentally ready to overcome it and still do what needs to be done to get the win.
Each trainer will be going through something closer to what the fighter will be going through than anyone else involved. Being a trainer in some ways is actually almost as nerve wracking as being the fighter is. The boxer’s career is essentially in your hands as a trainer and the pressure to give the best possible advice between rounds in under a minute can be pretty intense. Just like a fighter can’t help but imagine scenarios where he falters, the trainer often finds himself doing the same thing as he lays in bed at night thinking about the fight. Am I prepared to give great advice? Have I studied the opponent hard and long enough? Have I properly broken down the opponent and his style and his tendencies? What if they come at us with something I didn’t expect and prepare my guys for? Am I up to the big stage and the big lights?
The trainer has a career to think about, too, just like the fighter does and these matches reflect on him in a very big way and just like the boxer does, the trainer needs to be mentally and physically prepared for the toughest night if it comes down to that.
I can remember several fights in my own career as a trainer where I literally was so physically exhausted and mentally drained in the minutes and hours immediately afterwards that all I wanted to do was go to the hotel room and sleep for a few hours.