Conditioning and Career-Ending Injuries

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Last August 1, 2015, I witnessed a three-round boxing bout between two very young fighters, Gil Christian Paydowan, Jr. and Ruben Cadpa, during the Clash of Warriors at the Baguio Convention Center. It was a match that I enjoyed during the first round and the early part of the second round but that enjoyment turned to fear and anxiety towards the end of the second round and the third.

My personal instinct tells me that there was the inability of both fighters to take steps in protecting themselves against possible long-term or even fatal injuries in preparing for the bout. I would even consider it a stroke of luck that they commonly lack of preparation. This instance made possible of the bout ending without too much of an incident except for the official results.

Action was not a problem in this bout as both fighters decided to let it all loose in the face-off. Cadpa was the more aggressive one, usually the one who initiates the action in the first round. Paydowan, however, did a good job in ducking and covering majority of his punches and did land the crispier, more telling punches that bloodied the nose of Cadpa towards the end of the round.

The second round started the same way with Cadpa now pressing more attacks at the expense of him being wide open. Paydowan again took advantage by defending majority of the punches and connecting with well-executed counters that cut Cadpa above the eye at around the two minute mark of the second round.

It was here that my fear and anxiety kicked in as I noticed something about the boxers’ conditioning at ringside. When the referee stopped the time to allow the doctor to take a look at the cut of Cadpa, Paydowan, who was at the neutral corner, sat down on the canvass. And it wasn’t due to a hit he received as his face was clean at that time. It was actually due to exhaustion.

Sensing this circumstance, Cadpa continued more relentless attacks and absorbed more counter-punches from Paydowan. He did connect a better percentage of his attempts this time but the sting of his punches was no longer devastating because he punched himself out aside from the hits he received. At the end of the bout, Cadpa absorbed more hits but was actually the fresher fighter. Paydowan could hardly react when the referee raised his hand as the victor of the fight.

What worried me towards the end of the bout, especially for Paydowan, was the connection of a sneaky, hard punch could change the enjoyable bout into an epic catastrophe. If a good hit was connected on the right spot during the end part of the second or the third round, it could cause severe consequences, like career-ending, or even fatal, injuries for both fighters. And both of them were too out-of-shape to defend against such hit.

Paydowan was at the mercy of Cadpa during the third because he obviously lacked conditioning. Sitting down on the canvass during a break in the action of round two in just a three-round bout shows how poorly he was ready for the fight physically. He was lucky Cadpa was also out of shape to execute a good punch that could have disastrous effects on both his health and his career.

Cadpa, on the other hand, showed his immaturity by not being in top shape while employing techniques that will leave him wide open for a counter shot in order just to land a punch. He was actually taking chances of disregarding his own safety even though he was out-of-shape to sustain the offense that will take out his exhausted opponent and prevented him from absorbing more punishment. He was lucky Paydowan was also out of shape to execute a good counterpunch that could have disastrous effects on both his health and his career.

Hopefully, these two young fighters will learn, if they haven’t yet, something about conditioning from the experience they had if they intend to go far in this sport. Paydowan is only 17 while Cadpa is even younger at 16. The fight was both fighters first bout. If one of them was in a far better condition than the other, all other things being the same, and connected a good one in the third, it could had a disastrous result for the other.

Boxing is a very tricky sport. It is more than just winning the bout. It is also how to survive the bout physically unscathed. It is not just about dishing out punishment; it is also about avoiding punishment. It is more than just the ability to connect a punch; it is also about the ability to absorb a punch. It more than just knocking out the opponent, it is also about having the durability to be stay in a match that could go the distance. It is more than just offense, it is also about defense.

There had been numerous career threatening injuries and deaths in the ring brought about by boxing matches and being out-of-shape has been numerously the main culprit in most cases. While it is true these unfortunate incidents could not be totally eliminated in a contact sport like boxing, it can definitely averted by being properly conditioned.

Proper conditioning as part of preparing for a bout could definitely increase by leaps and bounds a boxer’s ability to survive a bout physically unscathed, to avoid punishment, to absorb a punch, to remain fresh even if the bout goes to the full distance, and to play defense while executing an offensive pattern. If one is not wise about being in tiptop shape entering into a bout, it could end up in a very fateful tragedy.

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