So here's the question: Does COVID diminish boxers? And for how long?
Now beware the long post, but I figure this one is worth putting up. Like a lot of you I've been frustrated by fights getting called off, due to COVID. But I wonder if we really are seeing a trend of boxers coming back as "lesser beings," following hard bouts with COVID or even light bouts of it. I remember seeing Povetkin literally stagger around the ring--maybe that was the worst example, but it seems like there are others.
Anyway, this point was brought home to me this weekend--I went back to do some light sparring for the first time since COVID. Granted, I'm a pretty extreme case, as I caught it twice, then had blood clot issues, but I'm over it, and I actually felt good and have been training hard since early August so I figured I'd be ok. (My doc did say light/medium sparring would probably be no issue--so I wasn't being irresponsible here). Anyway, here is what happened:
The first couple of rounds were warmups--the type of rounds where one guy goes at you and you just play defense and then you reverse the situ in the next round. No hard shots--just getting warmed up. Well, right then I knew I was in trouble. I mean my legs are shot. Like completely shot. Like never before, Like unreal. Worse, I literally knew this 30 secs into the round and by the end I was breathing with my mouth open and we were hardly doing anything yet. The guy hitting me was going at 50 percent or less.
Things went downhill from there. I had no pop, no reflexes, no timing. I actually could get some movement here and there and for a brief second or two set some minor-league traps, etc, but generally speaking, everyone whipped up on me and they were taking it easy. From newbies to intermediates to a (quite serious and actually pretty skilled) chick about half my size. More distressing is that I just had nothing even for a light sparring setting. As in NOT-A-FREAKING-THING.(Couldn't keep my hands up either, and I actually favor the high guard and that's never been an issue).
Now I'm almost 55, and I know age plays a factor here (and the first day back after more than 18 months or so of a break was going to be rough, but apart from that... this was pretty disturbing. I'm one of those guys that never really got tired during sparring. I'm not saying that I've always done well, but I could always do round after round. Oh well. That's clearly not the case now.
Which brings me back to the original question: does COVID maybe make much more of a mess of boxers than we realize? We've seen others (aside from Povetkin) who had a "light bout of COVID" and then a very lackluster performance. (Actually, didn't Berchelt also have COVID before the Valdez fight?) Anyway, at a level where every millisecond of speed counts--and every inch of precision on slips, combos, etc., I am really wondering if this disease is making a much bigger mess of boxing than we've up until now understood.
I guess the upside is that youth probably still prevails. Vergil Ortiz supposedly had COVID, and he still looks like a terror (although we did see him for the first time really struggle against Kava--depends how you rate Kava, I guess), but apart from screwing with fight schedules, I'm getting quite convinced that this has a real effect on fighters--that it diminishes them. I wouldn't expect young guys to fall apart like Povetkin (and obv, they are all at a massively different level than I am), but it will be very interesting to see, for example, how Teo looks--or even Fury--in their upcoming fights.
Anyway, just thought I'd throw that out there. I'm at home now sipping tea and slapping Deep Blue on my shoulders--licking my wounds. If I never spar ever again, no big deal. I've got a different life, day job, etc. But I'm still shocked that my effort, skills, everything were bad to the point of being embarrassing (and troubling) today. Glad nobody filmed this (not that anyone would care enough to do that, but I'm still glad). But worse... yeah, I'm getting old, but I'm pretty sure this is COVID.
Anyway, this has been a long post--and I know vaxxing is a personal decision so I'm not trying to stir up that debate--but after today I'm thinking that every single pro should get vaxxed simply to negate even a light case. I mean they are living (and even dying) on this sport. Even if it just reduces symptoms... anyway, if I was a fighter's manager or trainer I'd want him to vax just so he avoids a reduction in ability (and a delayed fight). Yeah, I know there are breakthrough cases (which worry me), and I guess this is all anecdotal, but let me tell you when it comes to reduction of physical abilities... I am now convinced. Honestly, I really felt good before we started today. It was after we started that reality hit.
On a side note... damn, I took a lot of shots today. I'm going to try to do extra road work, jump rope and footwork drills and then maybe go back in two weeks. We'll see. Nobody my age needs to get hit that often though.
But on another side note, I used some new Cleto Reyes cheek protector headgear--and it was AWESOME. Great visibility and protection... Probably saved my nose too. Everything else was on me.