Endurance in Boxing Events

The feature scene of Rocky I was when Rocky Bilbao was seen getting up and going out for a run before his fellow citizens of Philadelphia had even risen from their beds. He is pictured running through the city’s industrial heartland before completing his run by scaling the 72 steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Although a boxing round only last 3 minutes endurance is tested to the limit as the work rate is so intense. Some boxers are strong in the early rounds while others get stronger as the fight gets longer. A professional boxer needs to maintain his fitness through twelve of these rounds.

Ali on top, eventually

One of the most famous fights where an opponent took advantage of the later rounds to beat his opponent occurred when Mohammed Ali fought George Foreman in Zaire in 1974. George Foreman was the undefeated 25-year-old defending champion, while Ali was 32 years of age, an ex-champion and not as sharp as he had been in his earlier years.

The fight became known as the ”rumble in the jungle”, and started at 4.00am. It wasn’t long before the stronger Forman started to get the upper hand and Ali reverted to his “rope a dope” trick. This involved him leaning back on the ropes and then by using his arms he would attempt to defend himself. Foreman needed no further invitation and he rained blows down on Ali. The problem was that Ali, despite his advancing years, was still a master craftsman of the boxing game, and he managed to block the majority of the wild punches that were being thrown.

As the rounds mounted up the tropical temperatures started to take their effect on Foreman and him visibly tired. In the eighth round Ali, after defending another onslaught, suddenly turned defense into attack and a mounted a viscous assault which ended the champions hopes and take the title. A more recent example occurred in 1913 when the Super Middleweight World Champion Carl Froch boxed the young upstart George Groves. Groves was a precocious talent and the West Londoner showed little respect towards the champion in the pre-match build up.

Froch down but he got back up to win

In contrast Froch was an unassuming quiet character who was popular among the fighting fans. On entering the ring Groves was booed by the majority of the Manchester crowd who had come to see a Froch win.

The fight however, did not go to plan as from the start Groves looked the far sharper of the two boxers. At the end of round 1 the champion was sent stumbling to the canvas as a right hand from Groves caught him flush on the chin. Froch was saved by the bell. The following rounds followed the same pattern with Groves being sharper and dominating. By the ninth round Groves was ahead on points but was visibly tiring. Froch who was 11 years older had always prided himself on his fitness.

A rapid counter attack from Froch left a stumbling Groves in the referee’s view unable to defend himself, and victory was handed to the champion. There was great controversy after with many claiming the fight should never have been stopped.

A rematch took place at Wembley Stadium in May 2014 in front of 80,000 fans. The contest followed pretty much the same pattern as the first fight with Groves competing well in the early round but as the fight got longer Froch got stronger. In the eighth round a right hook sent Groves tumbling to the canvas and despite trying to get back onto his feet the fight was stopped.

Endurance is vital in boxing. It isn’t just about having the energy to hit someone, it is also having the energy to get away being hit. The training that boxers do to extend their endurance levels is of a very high intensity and it is really needed by those brave enough to step into the ring.

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